Owner-Builders

This page contains details about the 2016 changes that may directly or indirectly affect you as an owner-builder.

An owner-builder is someone who takes responsibility for domestic building work carried out on their land and is legally responsible for the project from start to finish. An owner-builder assumes the responsibilities, risks and liabilities of a builder. Some of these responsibilities last for six and a half years after completion of the building work.

You are not an owner-builder if you are engaging one building practitioner to do all the building work.

Some builders or tradespeople may ask you to sign a building permit application as an owner-builder even though they will be doing the work. If you do this it may put you at risk. The person may be unregistered or trying to avoid their legal responsibilities.

Changes effective from 1 September 2016

Abolition of the Building Practitioners Board

From 1 September 2016 the Building Practitioners Board will be abolished and its functions and powers will be transferred to the Victorian Building Authority. From then, owner-builder applications for certificates of consent will be decided by the VBA.

Fact sheet

Builders may not appoint private building surveyors

From 1 September 2016 it will be an offence for a builder to appoint a private building surveyor in respect of domestic building work. The builder may recommend, but must not appoint, a private building surveyor – the owner or their formally appointed agent (other than a builder) will need to do that.

Fact sheet

Owner-builder public register

From 1 September 2016, details of owner-builder projects will be published on a public register on the VBA's website.

Changes effective as of 4 July 2016

Offences and penalties for carrying out building work without a building permit

From 4 July 2016, the offences of undertaking building work without a building permit, and undertaking building work outside the boundaries of the Act, Building Regulations 2006 or permit, will be updated.

Fact sheet

Powers of VBA inspectors to inspect owner-builder projects and documentation

From 4 July 2016, the VBA's inspection powers will be extended to include owner-built sites. The powers include:

  • entering land and/or dwellings under certain circumstances to examine work for compliance
  • requiring a person (including an owner-builder) to produce certain documents on request
  • making copies of documents
  • requiring a person (including an owner-builder) to provide certain information on request.

VBA inspectors will continue to proactively audit building work carried out by building practitioners, and associated documentation. It is important to ensure building work is being done in compliance with the law and the building permit, and that documentation is in place.

Fact sheet

Directions to fix building work

From 4 July 2016, if you do not comply with a written direction it is an offence. Building surveyors are required to notify the owner and the VBA in writing if a builder doesn't comply with a written direction.

Fact sheetWritten Direction to Fix Building Work