What is an Owner Builder?

An owner builder is someone who decides to build a brand new home or renovate an older one on their own land who is not a registered builder.

To be an owner builder you must hold the necessary owner builder permit from your state whether it be NSW, VIC, QLD etc.. Being an owner builder doesn’t mean that you have to actually do all the building work yourself. You are still classed as an owner builder if you supervise or coordinate the contractors.

 As defined by the NSW Department of Fair Trading:

Owner-builder work is any work (including supervision and co-ordination) involved in the construction of, or alterations, repairs or additions to, a dwelling (which includes a house, terrace, town-house, garage, swimming pool and certain other structures and improvements)

 The Responsibilities of an Owner Builder in Australia

As an owner builder it is your responsibility to oversee and supervise all tradespeople on the building site.

More specifically, as an owner builder you are responsible for:

  • Supervising all Tradespeople
  • Ordering the necessary building materials for your house
  • Ensuring that all the necessary owner builder council and local authority permits are obtained. This is different in each state of Australia
  • Fully comply with all Owner Builder Laws
  • Provide a safe work environment on your building site and your obligations under the Workers Compensation Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act
  • Making sure any contractor that works on your site is fully licensed
  • Ensuring that once the work on your home is completed it is fit for living in

When Should I not apply for an Owner Builders License in Australia?

As an owner builder you are guarantee that the work undertaken by your contractors is safe.


Some builders will suggest that you obtain an owner builders license whilst they do all the building work for you. In these circumstances it is quite possible that the builder themselves is dodgy and they may just be:

  • Trying to shift the responsibility on to you
  • Unlicensed
  • Unable to get insurance for their own building company

Is an Owner Builder Permit the same as a Builder License in Australia?

An owner builders permit is certainly not he same as a Builders License. As an owner builder you are not allow you to:

  • Do any other building work except on the house which you have applied for the license for
  • Do any specialist building work such as plumbing, electrical and gas fitting work. If you hold the necessary license for these building works it is ok though.

Owner Builder Courses in Australia


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Whilst being an owner builder might seem like a daunting task, getting it right will ensure you house stands the test of time.

Whether you are choosing to be an owner builder in New South Wales (NSW), an owner builder in Victoria (VIC), an owner builder in Queensland (QLD) or any other state of Australia it is always a good idea to do an owner builder course before undertaking work. This small outlay will more than likely save you a lot of money from mistakes in the long run and it will help you roadmap your Owner Builder project to success.