An owner-builder is someone who takes on most of the responsibility for domestic building work carried out on their land.
As an owner-builder you would need to obtain building permits, supervise or undertake the building work, and ensure the work meets building regulations and standards. In Victoria, an owner-builder can only build or renovate one house every three years, and must intend to live in the house once completed.
If you wish to be an owner-builder, and the value of the proposed building work is more than $12,000 (including labour costs and materials) you will need to apply for a certificate of consent.
Please note: you and a builder, contractor or tradesperson must enter into a written contract for domestic building work costing more than $5,000.
The certificate must be provided to your building surveyor in order to obtain a building permit.
As an owner-builder, you will be given the same level of protection afforded to other consumers under the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995.
Do not submit an owner-builder application if you intend to engage one builder to do all the building work – you will not qualify as an owner-builder. Instead, you will need to enter into a domestic building contract with a registered building practitioner.
Be wary if a builder or tradesperson asks you to sign a building permit as an owner-builder, even though they will be doing the work. This is risky and may end up costing you a lot more than you expect. The builder may be unregistered or trying to avoid their legal responsibilities.
Contact us or your lawyer to get advice before you agree to become an owner-builder in these circumstances.
Even if you have signed as an owner-builder on the building permit:
If you sell your owner-built home within six and a half years after the domestic building work has been completed (ie. from the date of issue of your occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection), you must:
Note: If a registered building practitioner carried out the work under a major domestic building contract, the work should be covered by their domestic building insurance. However you will also need your own domestic building insurance to cover any building work you completed. Domestic building insurance covers non-structural defects for two years and other defects for six years. After six years, the property is no longer covered by domestic building insurance.
If you sell your owner-built home on or after six years, but within six and a half years of completion of building work, you need only provide a defects report.
A buyer of your home who finds defective building work that did not appear on the required defects report can make a claim against you for breach of statutory warranties. If the defective work was carried out by a registered building practitioner, then you may have a claim against that practitioner.