Get an owner builder certificate

This page is for people who are not in the business of building and want to build or extend a home on their land.

An owner builder certificate is not a building permit.

Certificate conditions

You can only hold one owner builder certificate at a time.

Owner builder certificates are issued for one block of land and last three years.

They can be renewed for another three years.

You must wait six years from the issue of an owner builder certificate before  applying to be the owner builder for another property.

Building work permitted

You must have an owner builder certificate for work  over the value of $12,000, on all the following types of buildings:

  • a single dwelling or detached house - a class 1a building
  • a garage, carport, or shed - a class 10 building - attached to and built at the same time as a single dwelling attached house
  • a retaining wall that is unattached to but supports a class 1a or class 2 building
  • extensions to any of the above where you are increasing the floor space.

The construction, extension or renovation of duplexes, townhouses, flats or units can't be done by an owner builder.

Legal obligations

Owner builders have all of the following legal responsibilities:

  • occupational health and safety of workers
  • compliance with building control certification requirements such as arranging permits and inspections
  • direct and assess workmanship of others
  • site protection
  • insurance and registrations for tradesmen
  • rectifying defective work for up to six years if you sell the property.

Engaging a project manager does not remove any of your legal obligations as an owner builder.

Insurance obligation

Before obtaining a building permit to start construction, owner builders must also have residential building insurance in the form of a fidelity certificate.

Who can apply

Only individual property owners can apply to be an owner builder.

All individuals named on a property title must be included on the certificate.

An owner builder can't be a company or trust.

If you are registered as a building contractor residential, you do not need to also be registered as an owner builder.

Before you apply

Before applying to be an owner builder, you must read the owner builder manual PDF (805.1 KB).

Caution about registering at the recommendation of a builder

It may be cheaper to register yourself instead of contracting work out, but you will also take on the full responsibilities of a builder.

As an owner builder you have no protection against defective work. You can only take subcontractors to court.

A builder who recommends that you become an owner builder while they supervise and organise tradespeople, or act as the project manager, may be avoiding legal responsibilities or be unregistered.

How to apply

Follow these steps to apply for an owner builder certificate:

Step 1. Read the owner builder manual PDF (805.1 KB) and fill in the declaration form at the end.

Step 2. Fill in an owner builder form PDF (164.3 KB).

Step 3. Go to the Building Practitioners Board website to find out how much you need to pay for your application.

Step 4. Submit your forms and the application fee to the Building Practitioners Board or in person to a Territory Business Centre.

Building Practitioners Board
GPO Box 1154
Darwin NT 0801
Phone: (08) 8936 4082

Last updated: 19 September 2019

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