What is an “owner builder” and can you be one?

An owner builder is someone who is capable of supervising and taking on building works on their own property and land.

An owner builder could:

  • intend to use their own skills or expertise to build, renovate or extend a house
  • intend to supervise and manage sub-contractors to complete building works
  • be a registered builder who intends to build, extend or renovate a house on your property

You are only eligible to apply for an owner builder certificate, once every 5 years and you must intend to live in the house once works are completed.

As an owner builder, you assume the following responsibilities:

  • complete all or some of the works yourself, except for work that is to be completed by licensed tradespeople
  • supervise licensed tradespeople and sub-contractors – you must remember to check their qualifications, registrations and insurances
  • apply for and arrange all relevant council plans, permits and building inspections
  • ensure all required insurances policies are applied for and approved prior to building works commencing
  • the occupational health and safety of workers on-site
  • liable for any defectives works and associated financial costs to repair or rectify

Advantages of being an owner builder include:

  • increased control of the project including design, hiring of tradespeople and reduction of costs
  • more flexibility for timeline of works to be completed

Risks associated with being an owner builder include:

  • spending increased time and costs on the project than initially expected
  • taking full responsibility of the the works and finances
  • facing and resolving complex situations and disputes

How do you become an owner builder?

If you wish to be an owner builder and the works you wish to have completed are less that $16,000, you need to:

  • Apply for relevant council permits through an independent Building Surveyor
  • The Building Surveyor will then issue the relevant permits for works to commence

If you wish to be an owner builder and the works you wish to have completed are more than $16,000, you need to :

  • Read and study the Owner Builder information and study guide to determine if an Owner Builder Certificate is suitable for you
  • Complete an Owner Builder e-learning assessment through the Victorian Building Authority
  • Apply for a Certificate of Consent to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA)
  • Await approval from the VBA for your Certificate of Consent – this can take approximately 3 weeks
  • Once you receive your Certificate of Consent, forward this to your independent Building Surveyor for them to issue the relevant permits for works to commence.

Top Shelf Carpentry can assist you through the owner builder application process if you believe this is suitable for you and you choose us as your selected carpentry and building tradesperson.

Alternatively, if you decide that the Owner Builder Certificate is not for you, Top Shelf Carpentry can arrange all the relevant plans, permits and insurances for your works and complete the works in a professional and timely manner. Contact us today to discuss.

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