Thursday, December 12, 2013

How much did it cost to owner build our house?

How much? This is easily the most frequent question we have been asked and is the most difficult to answer for a couple of reasons.
  1. It's none of your damn business! Well, OK maybe I am overreacting here but I have been amazed at how often complete strangers have asked us how much we have spent on our home. At first this was incredibly confronting! I've calmed down a bit on this now and am happy to give this information to genuine owner builders like yourself but I suspect that most of the early queries were from nosy neighbours just looking for gossip on the newcomers.
  2. All houses are different and all owner builders are different so in effect the question is the 'how long is a piece of string' classic. However, I will try to answer in more detail below.
So, to actually answer the question. Building our two storey eco-home came in at around $150,000. This is in the same ballpark as a (boring but cheap) one storey brick and tile project home of average size with basic finishes. We also had to deal with some fixed costs due to our rural location. The on-site wastewater treatment system and underground rainwater tank came in at just under 20 grand combined so in reality our home cost closer to $170,000.
So how did this stack up compared to how much we expected to spend? Oh, man, we blew our budget BIG TIME. I thought we could do it for $120,000 and Greg was even more optimistic (he is still recovering from the shock!). If you are a fan of Grand Designs, you will know that hardly anyone estimates the cost of their build accurately - we are all in a bubble of denial at the start no matter how 'realistic' you think you are being!
There weren't any major budget-busting building shocks either. It was just that things all cost slightly more than we thought. Building materials did go through a bit of a price hike during the process (especially copper pipe). The big ticket expenses were definitely trades (electrician, plumber, stairs joiner, waterproofer). But also, little things really added up too. For example, I think we spent nearly $1500 on screws and nails.
Plenty of people consider owner building as a way to build cheaply but our experience taught me that the real value in doing it yourself is having a better house for the same money.

Saturday, November 05, 2011

Our house is finished (no really!)

After 5 years of hard work, our home is now finished. I'll tell you this, there's no better way to appreciate all the doodads that make up the average house than to have to add them yourself .......aaah door knobs you are so wonderful, oh carpet we love you so much, oh light fittings you are appreciated!

So take a look at the photos, and you'll see how far we have come.
Main bathroom
master bedroom
front driveway
Oh the joys of a front entrance without red mud!
Landscape with a chicken called Numpty

Could we be any more green? vegie patch and solar power 

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Update 2010

After more than 2 years, I thought it was time to update the blog. We have been very busy with life but have managed to make alot of progress on the house and garden.
The most exciting for me was the landscaping around the back deck. As soon as we moved in, a new house sprang up behind us and combined with our own hideous dirt pit in the backyard, the panorama was not pretty. As a result, our deck was not being used. But that has certainly changed now. The addition of privacy screens and plantings means we virtually live out there now - take a look...

Other additions include chickens, apple trees and solar PV panels which are currently producing enough power to eliminate electricity bills for most of the year.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

We're in!

Yes, folks we have been in our new house for 2 weeks now. So why the delay on the blog update? Good ole Telstra have given us a little bit of last minute grief in getting the new connection on but after 4 failed attempts to show up and flick the switch, Barry the very nice Telstra man came on Tuesday afternoon and waved his magic telecommunications wand and voila!
So what's been happening?

Firstly, all the nasty things I said about buying a kitchen from Ikea are still true, however, putting it together was really easy and the result is fantastic. We still have to get the door handles on and the kickplates, oh and the wall tiles, but I LOVE MY KITCHEN!!!!!

Now, the interior fitout is far from finished but the downstairs is completely plastered so that is where we are living. It is a giant studio apartment with our bed in the area that will be the lounge. Hmmmm, maybe we should have built a house only half the size!! 

The most exciting development (apart from having cooking and showering facilities), has been our new stairs. We used Jones Joinery and they have done a really nice job of the external stairs (front and back) the timber and wire railings on the upstairs balcony and the solid hardwood staircase inside. I can't show you the internal staircase yet. The stairwell is shrouded in black plastic to prevent the warmth wafting upstairs and straight out the top of the building. You see we haven't lined the soffits so there is a lovely draft running through the upstairs at the moment. And, as you all know, it is the middle of bloody winter!!

Note that the gaping hole at the top of the house is finally gone. Greg broke many safety laws and possibly even the law of gravity to get them up there - 8.5 metres from the ground. The procedure involved a trailer, a platform on the trailer, a bloody great extension ladder on the platform and a large amount of pure adrenalin. Did I mention that Greg did it on Tuesday - the windiest day for years. I am pleased to report that no DIY madmen were harmed during the exercise.
So, things will slow down on the building front now as we prepare to go back to the job of earning a living and paying for it all. It has been a big journey, with much passion, frustration, elation, boredom and exhaustion. It almost killed us, and yet, and yet we still catch ourselves saying "Next time we build, we'll do if differently......." AAAAAAAHGGGGGGGHHHH!!! When will the madness end? Stay tuned.....

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Ikea Kitchen Fiasco

We wanted a quality kitchen, without having to sell a kidney. "Hey, why not get an ikea kitchen" I said.
So we visited the megastore, looked at the cabinets and benchtops, took home all the info. I measured up and spent many hours browsing the catalogue to find the perfect solution.
After weeks (no, months) of thought and mind changing, I was set.
All I had to do was order it. Of course you can't order over the phone or online. You have to visit Ikea in person.
Ok, no problem. I'll take Greg with me and we'll get it done in an hour or so.
Here's the thing. The staff are probably nice people when they are not at work, but while they are on the clock, they are trained to be as unhelpful and surly as possible. At the kitchen section, I spoke to a staff member who seemed irritated that I had interrupted her busy schedule of standing around and bitching with the other kitchen staff member. Well, sorreeeeeee!
The kitchen section staff don't help you choose a kitchen by the way, they are there purely as data input people. Don't ask for help, you will be disappointed.
I told her what I wanted, she typed it in. She checked availablility. Oh yeah, that's another thing. If what you want is not in stock, you can't order it, noooooo You have to come back in and get it at a later date. A tad inconvenient when you are ordering a swag of gear and want it delivered.
Anyway.... The Ikea chick printed me a list of 66 items that I required (this included hinges, knobs and such). Now for the fun part....
Grab a trolley and go and find all the items in the self serve area. No, better grab another 2 trolleys - and they are big trolleys!
We spent around 2 - 3 hours finding everything we needed and getting through the checkout. Then we also picked up another 2 trolleys of stuff from the 'full service' desk.
Now that we have everything (we hope), it's time to arrange delivery. Take all 5 trolleys to the delivery counter and they take all the stuff and put it in a different room awaiting delivery.
All up, we spent 4 hours, 15 minutes in Ikea. It was dark when we emerged, tired, broke and hungry.
Ok, so this may be my most negative rant so far on the blog, but I am still happy to have the kitchen I have chosen. I just wanted you all to be aware of the drama associated with buying a kitchen from Ikea.
There may be a further entry about assembling the blasted thing yet.

Less than 4 weeks til move in day

Ugly steel beam..... how do we cover it?

Voila! Beautiful timber beam is now a feature.

I just love the beautiful timber door and french doors now they are finished.

We have been given notice by our landlord so our move in date is now fixed - the 9th June.

Wet areas are ready to tile. The licensed waterproofer has been and stung us for $825. It took him 3 hours or so. He used half a bucket of waterproofing goop. This could well be the industry to get into methinks! If we had known what a scam it was, we might have been tempted to be less law abiding and create our own 'waterproofing certificate' to satisfy the building inspector.

The kitchen cabinets arrive friday ( in flat pack), the tiles arrive tomorrow. Plastering & cornicing is half done (downstairs that is) so we are on track... I think.

Our goal is to have the downstairs and wet areas completely finished by move in date. Bedrooms can wait - we'll just sleep in the living area for a few weeks.

Stay tuned for an indepth account of buying an Ikea kitchen - not as simple as you think....

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Plasterboard is going up

Lounge with new plasterboard walls.

Entrance. Solid Meranti door still to be stained.

Looking more complete on the outside now

There has been plenty of activity on the jobsite over the last month. The plumber has finally finished after 3 weeks (a total of 6 days on site over that time). We put in a big effort on the shadowclad cladding and have finished except for a couple of sheets right at the top. Greg will put those on when we hire the necessary equipment (we'll get the soffit linings on at the same time). So, finally, after several months of painstaking, methodical work we can move onto other things - like internal lining!

Wow, what a difference a wall makes. We have insulated all our walls with 1.8R bats and with the plasterboard on in the entrance, lounge and dining areas, the place already feels quieter, cosier and more like a house. We'll be continuing with plasterboard and villaboard for the next couple of weeks and then some of the really fun stuff will start (for me anyway) - kitchen, bathroom fitout and tiles. Next weekend will be ceiling sheets - we are hiring a panel lift to make the job easier, well actually to make the job possible for 2 people. Greg has a ludicrous sense of optimism about what the two of us can accomplish but even he has conceded that we need help on this.

The internal spaces look so different now that the plasterboard is up. I realise now that there is plenty of hanging space for paintings so I want to keep the wall colour light and neutral in order to showcase the art.

Thursday, March 15, 2007

The tradies are in!

Greg (aka Manuel Labore) saves us about 1200 bucks
by digging the trenches for the plumber.

Energex hooks up our power line

A rare glimpse of our plumber at work.

Downpipes are connected to tank so where's the rain?

The last 3 weeks has seen a flurry of wildlife on our property. We have sighted an electrician (Sparkus expensivus) as well as the rare and endangered Drainus exoticus (licenced plumber). A flock of Energexus standaroundus (energex linesmen) also appeared once the sparkus had left.
Finally some of the hard work is being done by someone other than us! Stuart, our electrician spent a day doing the electrical rough-in while Greg helped by drilling about a thousand holes for the wires to pass through.
Energex have now connected up our meter box so now we can plug in our power tools without borrowing power from next door. This is a significant improvement as Jedda the giant (but friendly) slobbering dog from next door almost knocks us over with enthusiasm every time we venture inside their gate.
More significantly, Tony our plumber has connected up all our downpipes to the water tank so now we can catch all the lovely rain. Of course it rained for 3 weeks before he showed up and now the weather is dry dry dry! Ahh... the irony.
We passed our first plumbing inspection (stormwater drainage) but it looks like we may have to dig a trench to the boundary from the water tank for an overflow - about 25 metres. Yuk. Still waiting to hear back on that - there may be a loop hole yet, fingers crossed.

The plumber will be back next week to finish off the wall plumbing - so we'll be sheeting the wet areas soon. Of course, we have to finish the exterior cladding first - stay tuned for an update later tonight.