Are you considering doing a home remodeling project or room addition and acting as the Owner-Builder for the project? This is your legal right as a property owner. Below are a few things to consider before taking on the job. 

As an Owner-Builder you will be responsible for all of the following and much more:

  • Pulling all of permits or having each Subcontractor pull their own.
  • Understanding the inspection process. 
  • Dealing with inspectors 'face to face' for inspections.
  • Understanding construction terminology and having basic knowledge of the construction process. 
  • Finding good Subcontractors for each trade.
  • Scheduling subcontractors and keeping the project on schedule. (This can be difficult and if done incorrectly will often result in work being torn out and redone at your expense.)
  • Finding a deputy inspector for concrete pours and epoxy hold-downs.
  • Knowing when to order materials and when to have them delivered.
  • Negotiating up to 10 contracts (instead of just one with your General Contractor).
  • Keeping the job clean, safe, and compliant with OSHA standards.
  • Overseeing all plan revisions that are ordered by the city building inspector.
  • Addressing and paying for unanticipated damages. 
  • Ensuring the completion of work NOT included in your Subcontractors' duties.
  • Paying taxes and workers compensation insurance for labor hired.
  • Containment of yard run-off. Offenses can incur fines up to $75,000 by the State of California.
  • Hiring licensed contractors. The California State License Board (CSLB) has stiff penalties, including jail time, for hiring an unlicensed contractor. The CSLB often visits job sites to check pocket cards. 

The intent of the information above is not to scare you, but to inform you that acting as a Owner-Builder is a greater undertaking than simply hiring people to do the work for you. There is significant liability and responsibility involved. 

Things to consider before you get started as an Owner-Builder:

  • What is an Owner-Builder?
  • How do I act as Owner-Builder?
  • Does an Owner-Builder need to have insurance for the job?
  • What should I do first?
  • How do I stock materials?
  • What kind of Subcontractors will I need for my project?
  • When must I pay each Subcontractor?
  • Should I sign all of the contracts before I start, or as I need them?
  • What if a Subcontractor tells me 'that was not included in the price'?
  • What do I do when the inspector writes a correction notice and the Subcontractor says that it is not part of his job?
  • What is a Release-of-Lien?
  • When is the job legally finished?

GOOD NEWS: If you can handle all of the above situations you are ready to become your own Owner-Builder. If it is done right you can save about 20% or more on your project. 

BEST ADVISE: Take your project in baby steps. Research your project, have an attorney review your contracts, and perform a background check on all contractors you are going to hire. Don't sign all contracts right out of the gate; sign as you go. Once the contract is signed, you are legally responsible to pay that contractor the FULL AMOUNT. 


Don't hesitate to contact us for a free consultation.