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$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Performing work for an owner-builder

In Victoria, builders and contractors are often approached to project manage or carry out certain works on a project undertaken by an owner-builder.

There are a number of risks you should be aware of if you decide to work for an owner-builder. While they might be enthusiastic about their project, they do not have the experience of trained building professionals and common feedback is that their projects can be poorly organised, trades can be incorrectly sequenced, and materials ordered can be wrong or of poor quality. Furthermore, if something goes wrong, they can often look to blame the licensed tradesperson or builder. 

Are they an owner-builder? 

In Victoria an owner-builder is someone who carries out domestic building work on their own home or land. 

Responsibilities of an owner-builder 

Owner-builders must obtain a permit and unless they have a permit, you must not engage in domestic building work. This permit is called a ‘Certificate of Consent’ and is obtained from the VBA.  

Before commencing works for an owner-builder, it is important that you confirm that they have obtained their permit. If the owner-builder does not have a permit and is requesting you do all the work you will be seen as the principal contractor. It is important to remember an owner-builder must complete some of the works themselves or engage various tradespeople. 

A more detailed list of the responsibilities of an owner-builder can be found in HIA’s information sheet ‘Your legal obligations as an Owner-Builder’. 

Do I need a contract? 

If an owner-builder engages you to do domestic building work valued at $10,000 or more, you must enter into a major domestic building contract that complies with the Domestic Building Contracts Act (Act). 

If you are engaged to complete work or supervise the project, your contract should:

  • have a clear scope of work to ensure that you are only responsible for the works you have completed. HIA recommends that your contract include special conditions to specifically limit your scope of works to that agreed to
  • have very clear contract specifications setting out what your responsibilities are as a supervisor

Supervising owner-builders work 

If you are engaged to supervise the owner- builder project, you and the owner-builder are responsible for ensuring all works comply with the building regulations and standards.

Does the warranty period still apply? 

When you have completed any works or supervised the owner-builder project, if any defects are found, you may be liable to future owners of the property for up to 10 years. 

Do I need domestic building insurance? 

If you are completing domestic building work valued at $16,000 or more you must obtain Domestic Building Insurance (DBI) and provide the owner-builder with the DBI policy and certificate of currency.

To find out more, contact HIA's Workplace Services team

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