It’s not uncommon for people to have unrealistic expectations of the building industry. Clients just want to get into their new home. They don’t realise how many moving parts there are in building a house. Unfulfilled expectations cause unnecessary stress, when owner builders have to change plans, cancel appointments, or reschedule tradespeople.
It’s important, for your own mental health and well-being, to consider the following points when building your home.
Building a House is Not a Picnic
It’s fairly common for clients to underestimate the work that goes into building a home. Sometimes people ask for quotes and expect to have them back same day, while providing nowhere near enough information.
Building a house yourself is a custom job. Everything (and I do mean EVERYTHING) will factor into the engineering, the energy rating, the construction design, and the cost. There are no factory settings here. You aren’t choosing from a catalogue.
So please be patient with your tradespeople. They want to work with you to create your beautiful new home. But it WILL take time and they will need a lot of information from you.
Plans Take Time
Plans have to go through a process within the building industry before being submitted with your permit application. Drafting, engineering, energy assessment, septic tank approval, and town planning (where applicable). Industry professionals, for each stage of the process, must coordinate in order to finalise your plans.
It’s worth mentioning that every time you change your plans, the process has to start again. This is a frustrating and time-consuming process, for you AND those in the building industry. It is also expensive. (For a list of other ways to save money when building a straw bale home, click here.)
Permits Can Take Months
After your plans have been finalised, it’s time to submit them to the approvals agency or council to get your permit.
Although this seems like a simple task, compared with the convoluted steps involved in creating your plans, it can take months to receive your permit. One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to schedule working holidays before you get your permit. Many a client has wasted (or had to reschedule) their leave, because they underestimated how long permits can take.
In order to decrease the wait time, ensure you have included everything on the permit checklist before you make your submission. If the approvals agency is waiting on things you have missed, your permit may be put in the too-hard basket and you’ll have to wait even longer.
Try to understand that your building industry professionals have many jobs to do at any given time. Expect everything to do with the building industry to take time, and you won’t suffer from unmet expectations.
Sometimes Tradespeople Are Late
Tradespeople don’t always know what is going to happen at a job. Complications happen which can cause your electrician (or other building industry professional) to run late. It is not their intention to make you wait, and running behind schedule is stressful for them too.
A few years back we noticed a section of our carpet was inexplicably wet. We called the plumber, and organised a time for him to come and find out what the problem was. Now given the vague information we were able to provide, how is he supposed to know how long the job will take? He didn’t know he would have to cut through our laundry cupboard, and replace a section of pipe that a mouse had chewed through, until he arrived.
It can be extremely frustrating when your electrician is 2 hours late or doesn’t make it there at all. However, try not to blow up at the tradesperson. It won’t help. If you want to make yourself more attractive as a client, ask your subcontractor to bring along their bank details. Tell them you will make same-day payment. This will make you much more of a priority than the client who waits 30 days to pay.
Even Straw Bale Homes Can Struggle to Achieve a 6 Star Energy Rating
A common misconception is that straw bale homes automatically achieve 6 star energy ratings. While straw bale houses do have an edge in this department, as straw bales are a super-insulator, other factors can still fail your rating. Large, open areas, south facing windows, roof colour, site orientation and window glazing all make a difference to your rating.
Despite the fact that straw bale homes perform extremely well in practical applications, thermal performance assessment software only recognises straw bale walls as R4. While substantially better than standard brick or weatherboard walls, this rating is not enough to overcome bad design. Considering that even government websites state that straw bale walls are R10, we hope that this will eventually be reflected in the thermal performance assessment programs.
Energy assessments sometimes anger or upset clients, as they finally decide on their design only to be told that they have to make changes. Having some idea of energy efficient design in the planning process, can avoid some of this anguish. It will also save you some time and money, as you don’t have as much back and forth between your energy assessor and your draftsperson.
It is also necessary to say that energy assessors are not being sticklers just to make your owner builder journey difficult, they are just following the federally mandated rules. An energy efficient home will save you thousands in heating and cooling costs over the years, and be an entirely more pleasant space to live in.
I hope this helps you while you’re on your straw bale building journey. Do you have any questions? Let us know in the comments, or send us an email for more information about how you can build a straw bale house!