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Being an owner-builder

Owner-builders are responsible for the building work on their property. They can carry out the building work themselves or hire builders or trades to do the work.

If the total cost of the building work is over $16,000, a certificate of consent must be obtained from the VBA to carry out work as an owner-builder. Owner-builders must engage a building surveyor to obtain a building permit and ensure the work is compliant with the permit and building regulations.

Becoming an owner-builder has certain risks, obligations and limitations, and you must meet eligibility criteria to get a certificate of consent.

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Managing your building project

Understanding the building process can help you coordinate trades and decide what needs to be done and when. Here are some tips for managing a project:

  • Understand what trades or specialties you need and what types of work must have a registered or licensed practitioner
  • If hiring multiple trades, you must have a major domestic building contract for each job worth $10,000 or more and builders must have domestic building insurance for work worth $16,000 or more
  • Understand safety requirements, including when you need to get a certificate of electrical safety or compliance certificate.
  • Issues or delays with one aspect can delay the entire project. Plan the project in detail before beginning work. It is important to get the sequence of work right.
  • Be realistic about the time it will take to complete your project. Plan for delays and, if coordinating multiple tradespeople, allow enough time for each job.

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Engaging someone else to manage the project

If you engage a registered domestic builder for your project, they can hire and manage all the trades for you. This way, you only need to engage one building practitioner who will be responsible for all the work.

You can also have someone overseeing your builder, such as a building consultant, engineer, project manager (domestic) or architect to ensure that they are fulfilling the terms of the contract.

They can:

  • do site inspections at the completion of each stage to confirm the work is completed before you make progress payments
  • monitor trades and ensure the work complies with budget, timing, specified standards and plans
  • provide independent expert advice and intervene to prevent disputes, cost blowouts and delays.

If a building permit is needed, you must engage a building surveyor, who will issue the permit and ensure the work follows the building laws.

See Roles and Responsibilities to understand the types of professionals that may be involved in your project and Finding a practitioner and getting quotes learn how to select the right practitioner for you.

Page last updated: 27/09/22