How to Become an Owner Builder

Fancy yourself a DIY master around the house? Looking to upgrade your renovation skills to home building skills?

If you said yes to these, then becoming an owner/builder might just be for you.

With the advent of TV shows such as The Block, Renovate Australia and other home building shows, doing it yourself has never been more popular. Whilst owning your own home is one of the greatest satisfactions one can have, there’s something a little more special to your homeownership when you’ve also built the house yourself.

An owner/builder is anyone with the skills or capacity to build their own house or supervise construction work. 

Before you go pulling out your power tools, overalls and drop sheets, there are quite a number of things to consider before you can call yourself an owner/builder. You will become responsible for overseeing and supervising all service people, obtaining all DAs and council approvals, managing the building site, ordering the materials and adhering to certain rules and regulations. 

There are many more responsibilities to carry out in addition to these, so it’s good to be prepared ahead of time knowing exactly what is needed to become an owner/builder. 

If you’re confident you can be responsible for your own construction work as a fully licensed builder would be, then becoming an owner/builder might just be the right route to homeownership for you. 

What are the responsibilities of an owner-builder? 

As touched on before, as an owner/builder you will become responsible for every aspect of your build, and that may include some details you hadn’t previously considered. You will need to fully comply with the law in regards to finance, tax and insurance requirements, be aware of your WHS (Work Health & Safety) commitments, employ only appropriately licensed and insured contractors, and control all materials and work operating as part of your build.

You may face significant charges and penalties if you don’t comply with your responsibilities. It’s a big commitment and not one to be taken lightly. In addition to your responsibilities, you will also need to apply for certain permits before any work is carried out. 

Understanding building permits

If the materials and labour cost less than $10,000 for your home build, or you don’t need development consent; you won’t need to apply for an owner/builder permit. However, it’s more than likely that you will need this permit and that you’ll also need to make sure you’re eligible for it. 

The Development Application (DA) must be in respect to a single dwelling house or secondary dwelling and must also be only for residential purposes. A permit cannot be issued for renovations to an existing dwelling. 

To obtain the owner/builder permit with Service NSW, you’ll need to provide proof of a number of documents, such as evidence of ownership, a current general construction induction training card, development consent or DA approval, as well as evidence you have met the owner/builder education requirements.  

Understanding required approvals

Finally, before any building work can start, there are a number of approvals needed. You will more than likely be looking to seek approvals for development consent, construction approval, compulsory compensation cover, consent to use licensed tradespeople, contracts and selling an owner/buyer built home. 

Whilst this sounds like a lot of reading and red tape to go through, past owner/builders have said the process is surprisingly simple, and can be obtained online within a number of hours. The secret is to be prepared well in advance, and know what will be needed from you beforehand. 

The benefits of being an owner-builder

Being an owner-builder isn’t for everyone, but there are some benefits to taking on the role. Not only can you cut costs on building your home by up to a third, but the sense of control over a large scale project appeals to creative types. It could be the next step up from your own home renovations and into the home building sphere, which can be a very exciting and rewarding next DIY step. 

A kit home can take much of the stress out of building your own home, particularly if you’ve decided to go down the owner/builder route. As every detail is customisable and pre-fabricated before the build, the kit’s plan can be easy to follow and install to home build success. Not only is the dream of homeownership within grasp, but the added benefit of building something you can be proud of for the rest of your life is all within the realm of possibility with a kit home. 

Now that you know the ins and outs of DIYing your home build, you can start to pull out those power tools, overalls and drop sheets. The fun part is about to begin.Interested in building your dream home with Kitome? Download our brochure featuring our 32 most popular kit homes or book in for a free consultation with one of our home renovation experts. You’ll soon see how quickly we can make your dream home a reality. Happy home building!