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Your legal obligations as an owner-builder in Victoria

If you are carrying out works on your home or land in Victoria, you may be an owner-builder which carries certain responsibilities and obligations you must be aware of.

Who is an owner-builder?

In Victoria, an owner-builder is someone who is responsible for the domestic building works performed on their own land. 

What works can be performed by an owner-builder?

There are certain works which an owner-builder can, and cannot, perform.  

Permitted Not permitted
Construction of new single domestic dwellings Multiple dwellings or work on non-domestic works
Alterations, renovations, additions to existing dwellings Demolition works
Completing works on a home that has been relocated Subfloor work including re-stumping or reblocking
Work on ancillary buildings and structures, including garages, carports, sheds, pools, spas, fences, pergolas and retaining walls Relocation of a home (which includes re-stumping or subfloor work)

How does someone become an owner-builder?

To be an owner-builder, you must apply to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) for a ‘Certificate of Consent’.

A Certificate of Consent is required for domestic building works valued over $16,000 and carried out on your own land. An owner-builder is required to obtain the Certificate of Consent from the VBA before carrying out domestic building work.

A Certificate of Consent will only be provided to an owner-builder if:

  • you are the owner of the land (including the director of a company or a beneficiary of a trust that owns the land);
  • the dwelling is a single dwelling;
  • you reside, or intend to reside in the dwelling;
  • you have the relevant knowledge of the duties and responsibilities upon completing the eLearning assessment and if required, the construction induction training;
  • you are not in the ‘business of building’;
  • you have not previously entered into a contract to sell the owner-built home without obtaining domestic building insurance; and
  • you were not issued with a building permit as an owner-builder in the previous 5 years.

If you have been issued with a Certificate of Consent on a dwelling you own or co-own within the previous 5 years, then you may apply for an exemption from the 5-year requirement. The VBA may determine a special circumstance such as financial hardship if the application for a Certificate of Consent were refused.

If you fail to obtain a Certificate of Consent for the domestic building work, the VBA can issue a fine.

When don’t I need Certificate of Consent as an owner-builder?

You do not require a Certificate of Consent if:

  • the building works is not domestic building work;
  • the total cost of work is $16,000 or less;
  • you are a registered building practitioner engaged to oversee the works;
  • the works carried out are in accordance with an emergency order, building notice of a building order; or
  • you are either a builder who is authorised to carry out that type of work, a registered architect or the Director.

Responsibilities of an owner-builder

Owner-builders have several duties and responsibilities, including some obligations which last for several years. Responsibilities may include:

  • Obtaining a Certificate of Consent (if required).
  • Obtaining and complying with the building permit.
  • Supervising or undertaking the building works.
  • Ensuring the works meet building regulations and standards.
  • Notifying the VBA if the estimated cost of works has increased at the end of the project.
  • Complying with Occupational Health and Safety laws.
  • Rectifying any defective building work.
  • Obtaining appropriate insurance policies if you sell the owner-built home.

Working with other tradespeople

As an owner-builder, you will undertake all or a part of the building works yourself. You can also contract some works to licenced tradespeople or registered builders to supervise or carry out some of the works. You must notify the building surveyor the details of each tradesperson that you have engaged throughout the project.

If you require a registered builder to complete works valued over $10,000, you must enter into a major domestic building contract.

If an owner-builder has engaged you to supervise or carry out some domestic building work, please refer to HIA’s information sheet on 'Performing work for an owner-builder.'

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