So you want to be an owner builder?

Owner building your home can be a very enjoyable and rewarding endeavour, but before you jump in there are a few things you need to know. When considering owner building as an option for constructing your new home it is important to fully understand and consider the risks involved.

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What is an owner builder?

An owner builder is someone who intends to use their skills to build, renovate, extend or manage tradespeople to do the work on a home that they live in or will be living in. An owner builder can also be a registered builder that builds, renovates or extends a domestic dwelling on their own property.

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What are the main advantages of being an owner builder?

• You will have more control and flexibility over the design and construction of the project
• You will save the cost of the builders margin

What are some of the disadvantages of being an owner builder?

• You may not save as much as you think, when you consider your loss of income while you are working on the project, it is unlikely you will be able to buy the materials at the same rate as a registered builder
• You will be taking on the responsibility for the finance of the project and the quality of work
• There will be issues, sometimes complex, that crop up every day that will need to be addressed, managed or rectified. Even professional builders can miss items that need to be addressed that can compound, escalate as a job progresses, and end up being costly and time-consuming. Without the level of training and experience there is more risk of potential issues getting out of hand.

Looking to create the perfect plan to build on your block? Take a look at our “Your site” page to see some of the considerations required for designing and building on different types of sites.

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What are my rights and obligations as an owner builder?

The first thing to understand as an owner builder is that most of the laws that apply to registered builders also apply to you. This includes taking on many of the responsibilities of a registered builder and accept any associated financial risk.

As an owner builder your rights and responsibilities are governed by the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995 and the Building Act 1993. You need to:

• Obtain the relevant planning permits from your local council
• Be named as the owner builder on all permits
• Engage an independent building surveyor to obtain your building permit and occupancy certificate (or certificate of final inspection) at the end of the project.
• Obtain a certificate of consent, prior to commencing domestic building works over $12,000, from the Building Practitioners Board
• Make sure all work conducted meets building regulations, laws and standards
• Organise legally required building inspections at the appropriate building stages


What do I need to do before I start my project?

• Before deciding to become an owner builder it is highly recommended that you seek appropriate legal advice
• Obtain financing approval for your project
• Contact your insurance company to discuss the proposed building works
• You will need to complete both a Construction induction training course and a site induction training course
• Before starting works with a value over $12,000 you will need to obtain a Certificate of Consent from the Building Practitioners Board
• It is also recommended that you complete an owner builder course

See Our Services page for a range of design services we offer.


Selling your owner built home

If you decide to sell your owner built home within 6 years and 6 months from the completion of the building work you must provide:

• A Defects Inspection Report (which must be less than 6 months old) for all work
• Your domestic building insurance that covers the work that you have done
• The details of any domestic building insurance related to work conducted by a registered builder.

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There many things to be responsible for and it is no simple undertaking to build your own home. With this in mind it is logical to step start with the biggest advantage possible. Your plans for your home will be the road map for building your new home. The higher the level of detail and accuracy in your drawings will provide the best chance of a successful build and will reduce ambiguities, mistakes and costly variations. When it comes to plans an architect will generally provide the highest level of design based on their extensive training and experience.


Whatever you choose it is critical that you do your research, are well informed and are vigilant throughout the entire process. If after all of this you are still undaunted, happy building!

If you would like to discuss how we might help with your owner build project you can call us on 1300 637 837 or send us an email and we will call you.