Owner Builder Oddities
I was driving down the freeway today and I noticed a small truck carrying a bag that would have measured about 1100mm x 1100mm x 1100 mm.
It had sling type handles on it to allow it to be lifted by a forklift, bobcat or small backhoe.
Although I could not see the contents, I think it was most likely a course sand for use in bricklaying mortar.
I can hear all of my owner builder course students saying "so what?"
Well it got me thinking, the use of bags like this for loose materials such as soils, sand, gravel and concrete mix are a relatively new innovation.
But what is innovative about it?
To me it means a small truck which is not a tipper, can go to the landscape suppliers, pick up a small quantity of product and not have to manually handle it when it gets back to site.
Not only that, in the past, this small load would most likely have been simply dumped on site, causing the contractor (read owner builder), issues in respect to storage, containment, loss of product and potentially sediment control (run off entering stormwater etc.
Now, I have grown up in this industry and now have 40 plus years experience in considering the benefits and use of material handling improvements in the building industry.
As an owner builder, without the benefit of many years experience, how many advantages can you identify in handling loose materials in this way?
Moreover, how often do you see things on a building site that you do not fully understand or appreciate.
So through this post, I want to open it up to you, our owner builder course students, to respond and ask questions about products, processes or techniques you have come across but do not fully understand.
I will try to respond to your questions and explain use, advantage or legislative requirements by way of explanation to your enquiries.
Basically In want our owner builder students to have the opportunity to understand why we do some of the things we do in completing a typical domestic construction project.
I hope this generates some real activity and enquiry and look forward to demystifying some of the 'trade secrets'.
To kick this off, I will place a post on the Learning Management System website directing our owner builder course students to the post.
For now, best regards and,
Happy Owner Building,
The staff at Abacus Training would like to take this opportunity to wish all our Owner Builder Course students (past and present) a very safe and Merry Christmas.
It is a time of great joy for many people but also a time of manic activity on many owner builder work sites.
There are two very important things I want you to consider as we come into this holiday period.
Firstly, we hope our Owner Builder have used their project management and scheduling/planning skills to make certain their owner builder projects continue seamlessly over a time where many suppliers and trade contractors are simply not available.
Everyone needs a break, so I hope you have pre ordered and allowed for about a 3 week lull in availability of some services. This will save frustration and keep your project on track.
If not, relax, please dont stress as it will not achieve much and is simply not good for your or your close ones.
The second and more important thing to consider is site safety.
The holiday season often sees and increase in accidents and incidents on woner builder sites. This is sometimes caused by uninitiated visitors to the site, including family and friends. A second cause is the urgency and rush 'get it done' attitude that tends to creep in over the short break.
You can only do what you can do and the safety of yourself and all those who visit your site must be the number one priority as always.
Think before you act and make certain you and the persons on your site make it home safely to your families at the end of every day.
Once again, merry christmas and have a great New Year, 2017 promises to be very exciting and we guarantee we will be continually improving our course offerings and services to our owner builder students.
Very Best Regards to you and your families,
Rick Heaton and all teh Abacus Training Staff
Owner Builder Extension Courses
We have been receiving some great feedback on our course content and it encourages me that there are at least some owner builder students that recognise the importance of acquiring skills and knowledge relevant to running their projects.
With this in mind, we have decided to release extension courses to our owner builder students.
Available now are the following course offerings to even better equip you to administer and organise your project.
Interpret plans and specifications (nationally accredited)
Basic estimating and costing (nationally accredited)
Plan and organise work (nationally accredited)
Introduction to Project Management
The nationally accredited Units of Competency result in the award of a Statement of Attainment and the Introduction to Project Management course R esults in the award of a Certificate of Completion.
In recognition of the loyalty of our owner builder course students, we are offering significant reductions to the cost of these courses with a single unit costing only $27.00. The cost per course becomes even less when bundled together.
We look forward to working with our owner builder students to ensure you get the best experience from your owner builder project and in reaping the rewards and satisfaction of 'doing it yourself' albeit with the constant support from Abacus Training.
Best Regards and as always,
Well, it is happening again.
We have some new entrants into the owner builder course provider space.
It happens every couple of years.
They last for varying length of time, generally create havoc, make a quick buck then disappear as quickly as they appeared.
Whilst I am an advocate for online learning, it removes some of the barriers to entry that provide some protection for those Registered Training Organisations that do the right thing.
I have never and will never directly complain to the authorities about these organisations, I will let the affected consumers (in this case owner builder course participants) do that. However it is frustrating and difficult to continue to compete and provide quality courses against such competition.
There are several RTO's out there, including a couple of long standing providers, who persist in advertising 3 hour owner builders courses.
Fact is, these simply cannot be compliant!
Doing these courses in 3 hours is simply a waste of your hard earned cash, does not prepare you for the process and requirements of owner building and does not do what Vocational Education is required to do.
All Vocational Education Unit of Competencies result in the issue of a qualification. For the owner builders, this is a Statement of Attainment (SOA).
In Queensland, owner builders receive a SOA that include one only competency. It has been designed as a short course and includes 2 specific elements. The course owner is the Queensland Building and Construction Commission and it has a mandated volume of learning which is accepted to be 24 hours including the assessment.
This 24 hours came about because the face to face delivery of the course took a full weekend with two 8 hour lecture days and then the completion of the assessment.
we know this because we were involved in the design of the course and the development of the then QBSA Study Guide which is now in its 4th edition.
The course is valuable and provides the opportunity for the owner builder student to develop real skills and knowledge which will be tangible and demonstrable benefits in the running of their projects.
For New South Wales Owner Builders, a slightly different approach has been adopted.
The New South Wales Department of Fair Trading in the past, approved education providers on an individual basis to deliver custom courses designed by the educational institute.
We had such a course and to the most part it was designed around the philosophies of the Queensland owner builder content and structure.
Our course was in two distinct parts, covering the legal responsibilities of the owner builder and relevant NSW legislation, with the second part covering the generic Project Management principles as they apply to owner builders and a typical owner builder project.
In 2010, the Department of Fair Trading NSW developed and had accredited their own course specific to NSW owner builders.
Whilst in my opinion, the course was far too onerous for the typical owner builder (many of my fellow Registered Builders would have struggled), it did provide the opportunity to develop the skills and knowledge required by owner builders.
The mandatory text for this course was 5 volumes and consisted of approximately 800 pages of text!
After around 5 years, (normal course accreditation life) the Department of FT elected not to renew this and to simply pluck 5 Units of Competency from the Construction Training Package.
Unfortunately, for owner builders, these are simply too generic and unless the provider has great understanding of the specific challenges of owner building, they do not satisfy the learners needs.
Now here is the rub.
There are two primary issues surrounding the NSW owner builder course.
Firstly it is made up of 5 units of competency, each with a learning volume averaging approximately 8 to 10 hours each. Equating to a learning volume of around 60 to 80 hours to complete all 5 units.
Secondly, they are competency based so by legislation, require the owner builder course student to demonstrate the required skills and knowledge as detailed in the Elements and Performance Criteria of the Unit of Competency.
It does not take a genius to work out that no RTO could provide this in 3 hours and that those who advertise 100% guaranteed success are simply not complying with the rules of the Vocational Education Training Act.
I guess this post is a bit of a rant, but it is also a thank you to our owner builder course students who diligently complete the courses we provide. It is satisfying that there are still some owner builders out there who appreciate the value of real skills and knowledge and the ongoing support we provide.
Hopefully, the regulator, (ASQA) will identify the less than complaint RTOs and sort this out for the good of the industry.
Till next time,
Happy Building .....
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.