What is involved in being an Owner Builder?
In order to be a successful Owner-builder, there are a number of particular skills and attributes you will need to complete your project:
Project management skills
Much of the work of a professional builder involves coordinating many different tradespeople, deliveries and inspections. By taking on the role of a builder you will need to be confident that you have the time and ability to undertake these tasks.
For any work you are doing yourself, you will need a thorough understanding of the methods and materials. Successful management and supervision of your contractors will also require that you have a good understanding of the tasks they are performing and the materials being used.
Keep in mind that only licensed contractors can carry out specialist work like plumbing and electrical. Your Owner-builder Permit does not allow you to carry out specialist work.
Financial, taxation and legal knowledge
By assuming the management of your building project you are also taking on responsibility for ensuring that all the legal, insurance and financial requirements of the project are completed successfully.
As the person managing the project, you are responsible for the safety of all who work on site, and ensuring that all workers on site adhere to safe work practices.
Time and Availability
Building takes a lot of time, even if you are coordinating rather than undertaking the construction work yourself. You may be able to work on weekends or holidays, but many of your suppliers and contractors will not and they may require that you be present through the week. You will have to be contactable to make decisions when necessary, and you may often be required to be on site during the construction period.
Fair Trading offers a range of services that can help you avoid or resolve disputes with your contractors. If you are not sure of who is in the wrong make sure you speak to the authorities and know your rights before you confront anyone with an issue. Before you start building it is wise to contact your nearest Fair Trading Centre for details pertaining to the legal issues involved.
What am I not allowed to do with my Owner-builder Permit?
An Owner-builder Permit is not a building licence. For example in NSW it does not allow you to:
- Do building work other than the project covered by the Building Application number specified on your Owner-builder Permit
- Do specialist trade work - electrical, plumbing, drainage, gas fitting, air-conditioning and refrigeration (unless you hold a licence for that trade)
- Build multi-occupancy dwellings such as flats, villa homes, townhouses and home units (dual occupancy is permitted)
- Work on more than one residence as an owner-builder in less than five years (except in special circumstances).
Note:The office of Fair Trading strongly recommends that owner-builders do not attempt construction projects that require special expertise or equipment. Again other states will have similar laws that you will become aware of during your owner builder training.