Owner Builder FAQ

owner builder

What is an owner builder?
An owner builder is a person who carries out the role of the builder in managing the construction of a residential home. These duties include budgeting, purchasing, project managing, employing tradesman and various building tasks.

Why become an owner builder?
Owner building can save the new home purchaser many thousands in reduced builders fees and tradesman's costs. It is also a great experience to build your own home. OB support ideas here...

How to be an owner builder?
There are differences from state to state, country to country, but generally two courses of education are required: the first is sometimes called a 'White card' which is a workplace health and safety certificate, and the second is a general building management certificate comprising project management, building processes, communication and task monitoring. These certificates are supplied to an authority, in Australia that is 'Fair Trading', to obtain a permit to act as an Owner Builder.

Pros and cons of being an Owner Builder
Many of the pros are self evident: total control of the build, ability to choose tradesman and to personally oversee their work, decide what work can be personally done, control how long the build takes and importantly, elimination of the builders markup (about 30%).

The cons are just basic fears of stuffing up, dealing with rogue tradesman who take you for a ride, bad estimating and costing, longer build times, inferior quality, poor project management. Support ideas here...

Is there Owner Builder Insurance?
There is no Builders Guarantee available in Australia for an OB, so if you sell it within 6 years, and there is a building fault, you are liable, unless you add a rider clause in your sales contract that it is owner built, has no insurance, and the buyer assumes all responsibility. You definitely can get owner builder construction insurance which covers OBs for material theft, storm damage, fire etc. General Public Liability is a must as well.

Can I get Owner Builder Construction Loans?
Yes, a new home construction loan is available just like normal house construction loans.

Can an owner builder do waterproofing, electrical, plumbing, roofing etc?
A skilled OB can do waterproofing of wet areas and plumbing work, but it would not be signed off for authority approval of the works. If it was overseen by the tradesman it may be possible. Roofing can be done as it doesn't need signing off as such, but given how important it is...I'd be an off-sider rather than a leader. Don't ever do amateur electrical work. 

What sort of Owner Builder Construction can be personally done?
Plenty. Standing prefab wall and roof frames, external wall cladding, installing windows and pre-hung doors, architraving, skirtings, eaves, verandah decks, flatpack kitchens, tiling, painting. All require patience and skill, which all OBs have in abundance.

Is an Owner Built home able to be insured or sold?
Local authorities will inspect an OB home as it is being built, just like a builder built home and when finished, will be signed off as a registered dwelling. Selling the home requires caveats in the contract regarding the OB status and non-insured status if sold in under 6 years from the finish date.

More owner builder pages on this site...

Kit home FAQs here, Kit home assembly here, DIY Housing here, Steps to building a house here

Go back to Home Building Plans or return to Kithomebasics home page