Monday, May 25, 2009

Would We Do It Again?

Would we do it again? No, not at our age now. We have done it once, enjoyed the journey and now we are happy to live out our days enjoying the fruit of our labour. However if it was a question of the clock being wound back would we go down the owner builder path again? We certainly would. We thoroughly recommend that everyone at least consider the owner building process. If you do, we found the following helpful

· Undertaking some major renovation tasks at our previous house provided us with some building experience
· Choosing subcontractors wisely (recommendations are useful). The cheapest is not always the best. Look after subcontractors (cups of tea etc). A good relationship will often yield good advice and valuable information. We may have just been lucky but every one of our subcontractors did an excellent job, fitted in with us and were very helpful. Many contractors are happy for you to reduce costs by doing some of the work yourself.
· Having access to paid long service leave enabled a lot of work to be completed in a shorter period of time
· We contracted a qualified builder (Rod Sheppard) to help us erect the frame, and we worked as his labourers. This saved us money, gave us the chance to learn skills on the job, and meant this complex stage was completed in a quarter of the time it would have taken us to do by ourselves.
· Attend as many house tours as you can, to get ideas for your own project and to learn from other people’s experiences.
· Publications such as Earth Garden, Renew Magazine, Grass Roots and Owner Builder frequently have useful articles and useful contacts. These and many helpful books can be found in local libraries.
· Improve your bbq skills so that friends look forward to visiting (and helping when you need an extra hand). This doesn’t always work, but it’s worth a try.
· Learn as much as you can about good design. By this we don’t mean the so called “good style” demonstrated in coffee table magazines, but design that works for you and the planet over the long term.

In conclusion we recommend the completion of a Permaculture Design Certificate. This course introduces all the basic principles and concepts needed to develop plans for an energy efficient, environmentally friendly house which integrates with other infrastructure.

Here is a list of tradesmen/contractors we used or know, and whom we would happily recommend:
· Rod Sheppard - Marysville –survived the fires (Builder, building designer, draughtsman, building timber supplier) Top photo
· Kevin Jones -Chirnside Park (Very skilled and knowledgeable. Did our excavations, driveways and dams) Bottom photo
· Bill Hayes -Lilydale (Plumber & House fire defence sprinkler systems)
· Stephen Cook- Glen Iris (Top class Electrician)
· Glen Morris of SolarQuip Healesville (Solar Supplier & Installer)
· Regis Bezencon Healesville (Solar Supplier & Installer)
· Janelle Murphy of Australian 5Star -Bayswater (Energy Rater who will work through the process with clients, and Insulation consultant)
· Alan Duke of A&A Wormfarm Waste Systems - Hastings. Disposal of all grey and black waste water. Middle photo


Geoff said...

Thanks for the series of posts about building your home. Lots of great insights and inspiration! I especially like the idea of contracting a builder to help put up the frame, it seems so logical I wonder why I'd never considered it. The framing is the most daunting part of the whole building project, and the main part that had me considering getting builders to do the whole lot. Thanks again!

Andrew and Heather said...

Thanks Geoff, apart from getting things up quickly and expertly, we learned a lot working alongside Rod as we erected the frame. He was happy to share all sorts of hints and information which were very helpful later when finishing the rest of the building.
Most of our contractors charged by the hour and were happy for us to do the more mundane parts of the job which also saved us quite a bit.

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