Advice for Owner Builders

Advice for Owner Builders

An owner builder is someone who decides to build and oversee the construction of their property themselves. You don’t need any formal trade qualifications to be an owner builder.

You can choose to do all the work yourself, or employ contractors to do all or some of the work. Specialist work – eg plumbing, gas fitting and electrical work, must be completed by a licensed professional.

If you organise for the construction or renovation of two or more buildings within a five year period you may be considered to be carrying on business as a building work contractor. All building work contractors must have appropriate licences.

Building your own home often takes longer and costs more than originally planned. It can be expensive, stressful, time consuming and complex, but if  you have building experience the savings can be significant.

An owner builder’s responsibilities

If you decide to build the property yourself some of the things you will be responsible for include:

  • Being aware of and complying with all the regulations that apply to the construction
  • Providing plans, specifications, engineering and technical details to the appropriate authorities and contractors
  • Getting the necessary approvals from all relevant authorities – eg local council
  • Calling for tenders and quotes, selecting and contracting professionals, and organising payment
  • Dealing with any disputes or problems that arise
  • Oganising finance
  • Ordering, delivery, management, storage and coordination of materials and services
  • Organising for the building to be inspected by a professional building works supervisor or surveyor on completion and obtaining a signed statement of compliance
  • Ensuring all necessary insurance is in place – eg public liability insurance.

Employing a contractor

You may choose to have contractors complete part or all of the construction, or construction up to the lock up stage and finish the work yourself. Lock-up is the stage that the doors and windows can be locked. It usually happens after the completion of the:

  • Floors
  • Walls
  • Roof
  • eaves
  • Doors and windows
  • Electrical work and gas fitting
  • Drainage and plumbing.

If you employ a contractor for any building work that costs $12,000 or more they must complete a domestic building work contract with you. If council approval is required, the builder must take out building indemnity insurance. This can only be taken out by a licensed builder.