Ready to be an owner builder?

3 March


What is involved in a commercial owner builder project?

Taking on a commercial building project is no small task. It’s a big decision, and definitely worth taking some time to mull over before you commit to being an owner builder.

There is a lot of information online about how to approach a residential owner builder project, but not a lot of guidance when it comes to commercial building projects. Whether you are building a storage shed, warehouse or factory, the owner builder requirements and responsibilities are quite different from those of a residential home builder.

For starters, the buck stops with you: responsibility for the entire project rests on your shoulders, meaning you need to have a good handle on what is going on at all times.

You’ll find yourself looking after a myriad of tasks including maintaining a safe environment for your contractors and trades, organising your own public liability insurance, choosing and managing all your professionals such as architects and engineers, and coordinating inspections with building certifiers and Council representatives.

Perhaps the most important part of the process is having the right team around you to ensure your commercial building project is a success. As an owner builder, you need to choose your people wisely, making sure you work with licensed and insured trades and contractors.

All up, taking on a commercial owner builder project is a big commitment, but also allows you to oversee every detail, go at your own pace, and work to a more relaxed schedule which can have a positive impact on your cash flow.

What kind of person makes a good commercial owner builder?

Because there are a lot of moving parts to the project, people who have an eye for detail and are naturally good organisers make excellent owner builders.

It also makes the process much easier if you have a background in building and construction, which means you are not having to learn about the industry as you go, and you can hit the ground running.

People who are efficient decision-makers and are confident in making difficult choices will excel at being owner builders. Individuals with these personality traits find it easier to keep the momentum going in their project and will not shy away from having hard conversations with contractors if the work isn’t up to scratch.

If you think that you could be a successful owner builder for a commercial property, that’s great! We’re happy to work with our owner builder clients to provide support throughout the process, whilst you manage and coordinate the bulk of the project.

When isn’t it a good idea to be an owner builder?

Although there are financial advantages to being an owner builder, you will soon find that the workload and the sheer amount of coordination involved in a commercial building project will outweigh the benefits of saving money on a project manager. Your time is money.

If you have no prior building knowledge or are not a very practically-minded person, it would be wise to employ a project manager or find a builder to look after your commercial structure.

There is a surprisingly high amount of hands-on involvement in the project, often requiring an owner builder to be on site regularly, meet with contractors and trades, and look after all the approvals, admin, safety and insurance requirements. This means if you are time-poor or want to manage the build 100% remotely, you may find your project stalling or taking much longer than you anticipated.

Alternative options: finding a reliable commercial builder or project manager

If the owner builder approach isn’t right for you, we can suggest a handful of trusted commercial builders and can vouch for their quality and communication. A commercial builder will run the entire project for you, end to end, taking a lot of organising (and potential stress) off your plate.

Another way to approach your build is to use the Steelcorp team as an intermediary: we can provide some project management assistance but the final responsibility still remains with you.

Whatever you choose, our team is here to help wherever we can. Get in touch with Steelcorp to find out more.


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