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What if I want to do the work myself

The best advice we can offer is to consider your own skills and abilities carefully when planning your projects. Getting in ‘over your head’ can end up costing more money than hiring professional help in the first place.

  • Do you have any knowledge of building codes and good building practices which is essential for many projects?
  • Do you have the time to research, plan and do the work properly?
  • If required, do you know trade contractors and subcontractors that will do a good job on your home? And will you be able to schedule their work without overlaps or lengthy delays?
  • If you act as your own contractor and hire someone to work for you, do you know how to protect yourself against liabilities in case of accidents or mistakes? Or against damage to your home in the course of the work?
  • Do you have the proper tools to do a good and attractive job?

Each state and territory has its own laws regarding work undertaken by owner builders. Generally speaking if you are going to do the building work as an owner builder and you don't hold a contractor or building licence, you will need to obtain an owner builder permit or licence.

To obtain a licence you normally need to provide proof that you own the land, pay the application fee, complete an owner builder course or hold equivalent building qualifications and experience.

There are a number of things you will be responsible for as an owner builder, including:

  • overseeing and supervising the tradespeople

  • preparing the contracts and ordering and delivery of materials

  • managing the building site

  • obtaining and paying for all necessary council and authority approvals for the work

  • taking out all necessary insurances, including workers compensation and public liability insurance

  • providing a safe work environment

  • ensuring any contractor engaged is appropriately licensed

  • ensuring that the works are constructed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and warranting to a subsequent owner that works are fit for their purpose

If you subsequently decide to sell the property you may need to take out and obtain separate homeowner’s warranty insurance.

If your primary reason to do the work yourself is to save money, talk to one or several builders before you make a final decision. An experienced builder may be able to suggest ways of reducing the cost of your project while still using professional services, such as modifying the design or substituting products. You can also save by doing the finishing work yourself, such as painting or wallpapering.

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