Get an owner builder certificate

If you want to build or extend your home with work valued over $12,000, you must apply for an owner builder certificate.

This includes work like:

  • a single dwelling or detached house - a class 1a building
  • a garage, carport, or shed attached to and built at the same time as an attached single dwelling - a class 10 building
  • an unattached retaining wall that 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.

Certificate conditions

An owner builder certificate is issued for one block of land for 3 years and can be renewed for another 3 years.

It is not a building permit and you can only hold one certificate at a time. All individuals on the property title must also be included.

If you want to apply for another property, you must wait 6 years from the issue of your previous owner builder certificate.

Who can apply

You can only apply for an owner builder certificate if you’re an individual property owner.

A company or trust is not eligible.

If you’re registered as a residential building contractor, you don’t need to apply.

Before you apply

Before applying, you must read the owner builder manual PDF (359.7 KB).

You must also keep in mind that you will take on all legal responsibilities of a builder.

It may be cheaper to register yourself instead of contracting work out, but you will have no protection against defective work. You can only take subcontractors to court.

A builder who recommends you become an owner builder while they act as project manager, may be avoiding legal responsibilities or be unregistered.

Your legal responsibilities

As an owner builder, you have the following legal responsibilities:

  • work 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 6 years if you sell the property.

Engaging a project manager does not remove any of your legal responsibilities.

How to apply

To apply for an owner builder certificate, follow these steps:

Step 1. Read the owner builder manual PDF (359.7 KB) and fill in the declaration at the end.

Step 2. Fill in an owner builder application PDF (188.7 KB).

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

Step 4. Submit your manual, application and fee by mail, email or in person to the Building Practitioners Board or in person to a Territory Business Centre.

After you apply

Once you receive your owner building certificate, you must get a building permit to start construction.

Before you do, you must also have residential building insurance in the form of a fidelity fund certificate.

More information

For more information, go to the Building Practitioners Board website.

Last updated: 14 July 2022

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