1. Overview

An owner-builder is someone who takes responsibility for domestic building work carried out on their own land.

An owner-builder is responsible for obtaining building permits, supervising or undertaking the building work, and ensuring the work meets building regulations and standards.

In Victoria, an owner-builder can only build or renovate one house every five years and must intend to live in the house once completed.

Some of the obligations of an owner-builder last for six and a half years after completion of the building work.

In some instances, an owner-builder's property may become a workplace for the purposes of Occupational Health and Safety legislation and then certain obligations will apply.

If the value of the domestic building work to be undertaken is more than $16,000 you must have a certificate of consent from the VBA to be an owner-builder.

Remember - even if you have signed as an owner-builder on the application form for a building permit:

  • you will need to enter into a major domestic building contract when a registered domestic builder, contractor or tradesperson will do domestic building work costing more than $5,000 (unless a single trade exemption applies);
  • a builder, contractor or tradesperson must give you domestic building insurance for work costing more than $16,000;
  • warranties still apply.

Some builders or tradespeople may ask you to sign an application form for a building permit as an owner-builder even though they will be doing all the work. If you do this it may put you at risk. The person may be unregistered or trying to avoid their legal responsibilities. You are not an owner-builder if you intend to engage one builder to do all the building work.