Before some of my owner builder students get up in arms about this post, let me set the record straight.
As a tradesperson myself, I consider myself a professional. Being professional in your occupation is about how you present yourself and your services and the way in which you treat and interact with your staff, your clients and your fellow contractors.
So now I have that said, this post is about which, who, how and to what level owner builders engage or interact with what are termed the professionals or consultants that are encountered on a typical domestic construction project.
These 'professionals' are generally tertiary qualified and act on a fee for service basis generally determined by an hourly rate.
Owner Builders need to be aware that just like your trade contractors, you need to establish that the professional or consultant you are engaging, is appropriately qualified, experienced and insured for the type of project you are undertaking.
The professionals I am referring to in this post include but are not limited to:
So how does and owner builder select and build a relationship with these 'professionals'.
The answer is pretty simple and it follows the same precepts that I discuss in most of my posts. There is a genuine and tangible benefit in being disciplined, respectful and demonstrating a thorough understanding of your project and the principles of managing a domestic construction project.
When engaging with a professional (consultant), the Registered Builder already most likely talks the same language as the provider and can relate easily, demonstrating their ability and experience.
In my past dealings with my owner builder students and having mediated on many occasions between providers, suppliers, contractors and consultants, it is evident that many of these so called professionals show little respect or have little faith in their owner builder clients abilities and knowledge. They often try to railroad the project and force their own ideas personal preferences on the owner builder.
Do not let this happen. It is your project and unless there is a compelling efficiency gain or legal obligation, you are entitled to get what you want. My advice to my owner builder course participants is simple. If you are not getting what you want, have been promised or reasonably expect then change professionals.
Put yourself on the front foot and from your first meeting with any potential consultant, demonstrate your understanding of your project, be strong about your own personal requirements and expectations and show that you are organised.
Document and record discussions, ask for evidence of previous similar works and do not be worried about offending by asking probing questions about relevant experience.
Of course do not engage any professional until you are satisfied that they are carrying the appropriate insurance and level of cover including professional indemnity insurance.
As Abacus Training owner builder course students, you can always drop us an email if you are uncertain about the services or advice your professionals are offering.
Until the next post, take care and as always.
Happy Building .....
I wholeheartedly agree with the need for careful research and probing questions of the professional you engage to support your project. I recently accepted some specifications from a local engineer and submitted them as part of my DA which was approved. Subsequently I tried to order the materials as specified only to be told that those dimensions and quality ie. H3 MGP12 240X45 bearers, were almost impossible to source locally. I had to look for a substitute which turned out to be a bigger dimension with a higher price tag. A bit more research upfront and a discussion with my carpenter would have saved time and money.
I agree !I engaged a building designer who tried to rail road me into what he wanted to design,so we parted our way.After a lengthy discussion with the next guy who was totally on the same page and very patient we got our design easily.
Thanks for the comments Joanne,
I agree with this post. I've had two experiences so far which might help others. The first professional was recommended to me by a close family friend who had a long personal relationship with this person. All my dealings with them have been extremely positive and constructive. A second was a professional identified online. That ended up being a much harder relationship to manage and there was not the same level of trust.
As I have always taken the advise of professionals working for my interest and as yet have had no dealings with builders it seams I'm going to have to look out for this. Thanks to all for the heads up.
Hi, I feel totally out of my depth with my guy. He seems to want to just get the plans done regardless to the fact that hes young archetict is not doing a great job... Ive found small mistakes and feel that I'm being a pain in the arse if I complain about these issues. IHe has been recommended by a family member who works in the industry and I don't kno anyone else...so frustrating.
I agree that communication does seem to be the key. I have had a couple of experiences where the building designer/architect, pushed their design opinions on me when I already had a clear idea of what I wanted, design-wise. They just didn't seem to want to listen to my ideas and it felt like if 'communication is a two-way street', I was walking a 'one-way lane' that ultimately ended in a six-month long 'dead-end.'
As a first time owner builder, i find I am so out of my depth having not dealt with many designers ,engineers ,certifiers ,etc , and obviously unless your a very confident person or you have had a lot of experience in the building industry or associated fields it is hard to talk with some confidence to these professionals, obviously it will come with each project and the more knowledge one has .
It's also good to be aware that as an owner builder (not necessarily knowing the basics of building) you may be leaning on your consultants a lot more than they would be used to compared to the professional building contractors they normally deal with. To keep them on side, offer to pay them an hourly rate consultancy fee - their advice through your project can be worth it's weight in gold to keep your project moving
I found the use of a drafts person and then consultation with an interior designer very useful before we finalized our plans. Having that second set of eyes picked up a few things like we had left out a linen cupboard and that the space that we had allowed for the entry way to the internal laundry would be unlikely to accommodate a washing machine being maneuvered in there.
Very interesting - i've had the same experiance. Was talking to an engineer and they were all about canterlievers, as that is their specialty, but when interigated on the issue was able to push back with what we wanted. It amazes me how some trades and professionals alwasy want to play to their strengths, and not actually step in and work with the client. Takes a few goes to get the right ones.
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Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.