What is an owner-builder?

If you are thinking about owner-building your own home or small commercial building, you are required to apply for approval from the Building Services Board under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 before you can apply for a building permit from your local government authority for building work valued over $20,000.

Owner-builders can carry out the following types of building work on their property:

  • Construct a detached dwelling, including a granny flat.
  • Carry out additions and alterations to an existing dwelling.
  • Construct a non-habitable building such as a private garage, carport, shed or the like.
  • Small commercial building – being a one or two storey building with a floor space of less than 500m2 that is not a detached house, Class 10 building or farm building.

To obtain an owner-builder approval you must be the owner of the land. If the building work relates to a dwelling you must reside, continue to reside or intend to reside on the land on which the building work is to be carried out when the building work is completed. In the case of commercial building work or a non-habitable building you must intend to occupy or use the land on which the owner-builder work is completed.

Owner-builder approvals can only be issued to individuals and not to corporate bodies or trusts.

If someone recommends that you obtain approval as an owner-builder but they take care of and organise all the work, you are putting yourself at significant risk.


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