Owner Builder Timeline
The Owner Builder Center has been teaching classes and providing support services to both people who are building or remodeling their own homes and to the local construction community of subcontractors and vendors since April 1884. Over the years, thousands of people have attended and been trained to successfully build their own homes, even with little to no experience. The Center’s gone through many changes over the years so in case you are interested in knowing I will cover some of those changes.
First Owner Builder Center
Skip Weahunt is living in Suisun and applies for a teaching position at the Solano County Community College to teach a house building class. The College had contracted with the original Owner Builder Center from Berkeley California to offer the class. The format of the class was 14 sessions each 3 hours long focused on an aspect of house construction. Each class involved lecture and then a slide show.
Skip Starts Teaching at Owner Builder Center
Skip decides he enjoys teaching and decides to offer the same class at the Junior College in Santa Rosa California. Then in that same year teaches also at the University of the Pacific in Stockton.
Skip Purchases Rights to Open Independent Owner Builder Center
Skip decides to open his own center in the Sacramento area he contracts with The California State University Sacramento to offer the 7 week course starting in the spring of 1984. The class is a huge hit with a full enrollment and is offered each semester for a many years. Skip decided to offer a series of hands on classes as well. The students along with Skip and various trades professional build a small house twice a year. The class is taught on succeeding Saturdays with one day each spent on Carpentry, Plumbing, Electrical and Roofing. The class is a lot of fun for the students and the houses are donated to various locations like the Children’s Home and to the University itself.
1990 - 2000
Skip Opens Owner Builder Center in Sacramento
The Owner Builder Center decides to discontinue teaching through Colleges and Universities and starts teaching at their own offices in Fair Oaks. They offer the Seven week version of the class as well as various other classes and workshops both hands on and by instruction. A course in How to Build a Swimming pool is now taught as well as several one day workshops on how to tape and finish drywall, steel stud framing, tile installation and many other topics. Skip decides that even though the workshops are fun and well attended they are really just entertaining for the participants. You cannot really teach a construction skill in one day, so slowly the class evolves into its current form “Owner as Contractor”. The current two day workshop focuses on how to build a home acting as your own contractor. It still goes through the same categories as the 7 week class, but instead of sending 3 hours showing how to set up foundation forms and tie reinforcing steel bars, it teaches how to deal with the foundation subcontractor, what to expect as a scope of work, what it is likely to cost, what inspections are needed and what problems to avoid. A general contractor’s job is to manage the construction, schedule the trades and materials to keep the job flowing, not to be a mechanic.
Present Day Owner Builder Center
Since the inception the Owner Builder Center has seen three major swings in the housing and real estate business; in response to the oil embargos of 1974 and the Feds raising interest rates to fight inflation killed the housing markets in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Then again in the early 90’s once again due to the Fed’s manipulating the markets housing took a nose dive. Then again in the third quarter of 2005, the Fed’s housing and credit policies killed housing for almost a full decade. The point I am trying to make is while we know that housing leads the way into and out of economic changes, on a smaller scale the enrollment of students in our house building classes is the perfect bellwether. During the boom years of 1998 thru 2005 we had full attendance of around 70 students, often with a waiting list, for each offering. As late as 2014 we were having to cancel classes due to lack of signups. I am pleased to say that currently, although we do not have 70 attendees, we do have at least a couple of dozen students in each class and attendance is rising. This bears well for everybody and we hope it continues on this trend.
In addition to teaching, we also offer Real Estate services to assist clients in finding a perfect piece of land and to arrange construction financing, especially “Owner Builder Construction Loans” without a contractor and construction consulting anywhere from cost analysis (cost breakdown) to hands on full construction management.
The Owner Builder Center will continue to offer support services and assistance to its loyal students and friends. Our philosophy is “You can do it and We can Help”