Become an Owner Builder Versus Hiring General Contractor To Build Home in BC

Become an Owner Builder Versus Hiring General Contractor To Build Home in BC

It’s possible for BC residents to build their own house through do-it-yourself methods, however, most first time home builders find the experience disastrous. Have you ever put  together furniture yourself? Maybe that sofa which took four hours to build instead of one. Now, imagine putting together all the parts needed to build a home. Experienced builders will usually advise you to hire a general contractor instead of going DIY. Both routes, however, have pros and cons.

Let’s take a look at what house-building would be like if you build it yourself over hiring it out. For professional help on your specific project, talk to our seasoned builders at Building Space Custom Homes.

Pros and Cons of Building a Home Yourself as Owner-Builder

While it’s a dream to construct a house your way as you save tons of money, reality is often different. Being your own contractor can turn into a massive headache, which some homeowners end up regretting. Here are the upsides and downsides of becoming an owner-builder.

Advantages of Being an Owner-Builder in BC

  • Potential savings. If all goes smoothly with your build, you may be able to save money. Most estimates say that owner-built projects can cost about 15 percent less than those built by general contractors. Again, that is if everything goes well with the project.
  • More control. As owner-builder, you’re not only in charge of everything, you get to move the project on your own time, too. You can choose your tradespeople, materials, vendors, and construction methods. You can adjust the project schedule or make changes as you wish. If you run into issues, you can apply your own strategies and your decisions will be the final say.
  • Pride in the finished product. How many people can say they built their own house from the ground up? Completing your own home can give you an immense sense of accomplishment, as it’s a tangible mark of your major effort, investment, and management skills.

Disadvantages of Being an Owner-Builder in BC

  • Risk of losing money. Despite the possible savings, building your own home is a significant financial risk. These projects often suffer from cost overruns (unexpected expenses) and budget blowouts, such as site issues, additional requirements, design changes, even worker injuries. Experienced builders have this advice: whatever your wildest budget is, prepare to spend 30 percent more.
  • Complicated compliance requirements. In British Columbia, you need to pass the Owner Builder Exam and obtain an Owner Builder Authorization before you can build your own house. This authorization comes with a strict set of rules. For instance, you must do most of the project and not delegate it to another builder. You’re also liable for any defects on your building for up to ten years.
    All this, on top of the extensive list of requirements to get building permits and make your home up to code. Even the most learned owner-builders can take a year or more to fulfill their permit requirements, not including subsequent inspections.
  • Agonizing delays. Expect delays at various stages of your project, from authorization and permitting, to designing and construction. If you’re working with multiple sub-contractors (which is usually the case), you’ll have to coordinate timelines when one part of the project goes off-schedule. This can be difficult given the different availability of each team.
  • Limitations in skill or know-how. Whether you’re building for the first time or already have some experience, there may be areas to home-building in which you’re not proficient. You’ll need to enlist tradespeople who are experts in those fields. And in British Columbia, it can be challenging to secure reliable trades if you don’t already have working relationships in the building industry.
    Remember, you can’t take shortcuts or pull magic tricks in building. All parts have to meet standards – otherwise, they could cause inspection failures or be grounds for the building to be torn down.
  • Overall stress and time consumption. A home-building project can take over your daily life and effectively become your full-time job. It will also demand your organizing, management, and problem-solving skills. You’ll have to manage not just the design and construction, but also the budget, schedule, bookkeeping, insurance, vendor accounts, and more. You’ll have to know how to resolve issues that inevitably crop up in the project. And you’ll have to iron out everything fast, as time and money tick away.

How Much Can You Save as An Owner-Builder Over Hiring a Contractor in Victoria, BC?

In theory, an experienced owner-builder in British Columbia may be able to save 15 to 20 percent if all goes well with their home build. In a project worth $300,000, that amounts to $45,000 to $60,000 in savings. The big caveat, however, is that this is rarely achievable in real life.

Real-world DIY build projects are almost guaranteed to go over-budget. Much of this is due to lack of experience, which leads to inefficiencies, wasteful decisions, and costly mistakes. This is especially true among first-time owner-builders. In addition, handling a build project by yourself will pull you away from your job or business, thus costing you your income for the project duration.

Is It Worth It to Become an Owner-Builder in BC?

For some, it may be worth it to be the owner-builder of their home, but many others will strongly recommend against it. Some even describe it as their “living hell”! Even those who have financially and mentally prepared for home-building end up exhausted, frustrated, or both – so much so that they would not try the project again.

The consensus among these DIY builders? It’s much better to hire a reputable general contractor than to go through the nightmare of being an owner-builder in British Columbia.

That said, you should assess your own situation, resources, and skills, and weigh the benefits and challenges of owner-building.

Contact a Trusted Building Team in BC

Homeowners in the Vancouver metro are very pleased working with us at Building Space Custom Homes. With over 20 years of experience, we provide comprehensive home building services in BC, which include planning, permitting, construction, touch-ups, and more. Our expert project management takes away so much of the headache associated with home-building. You share your vision with us, and we’ll create the perfect build experience for you!

Let’s start with a consultation about your dream home. Schedule your Building Space meeting by calling (604) 726-5839 today.

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