Are you planning to be an Owner Builder?

Then here are 5 key considerations you MUST KNOW before you start!


1. Research the Latest Legislation and Council Requirements

As an Owner Builder before you begin to plan to construct any structure, whether it be a carport, house extension or the whole home itself, it is important to note that every state has their own rules, regulations and processes. Some aspects may even differ from council to council within the state, so be sure to do as much research into your council’s requirements before undergoing any building works on your property.

Information on these requirements can usually be found online through the council’s website or you can always call your council if you have further enquiries.


2. Responsibilities

As an owner builder you are responsible for not only building the structure but ensuring you keep to all the current laws and regulations. Other responsibilities include;

  • Obtaining and completing a Development Approval Form
  • Lodging all copies of certificates of indemnity insurance for any building work that is to be undertaken by a licensed building work contractor BEFORE they commence their part of the work.
  • Notifying adjoining owner/s of your intentions to perform any building work that may affect the adjoining property within regulated guidelines (usually 28 days BEFORE commencement).
  • Notifying the council at prescribed stages of the building work.
  • Undertaking the building work in accordance with approved documents. If you decide to make changes, BEFORE you commence them, you must once again get them approved etc.
  • Advice the council on the name and contact details of the person who will be supervising the building work.
  • Commencing and Completing work within a given time frame. This once again varies from state to state, but currently in SA the project must commence within 12 months of approval and be substantially completed within 3 years. However, it is possible to extend the approval in some circumstances.

These are just a few of the key responsibilities, there are quite a few more, so be sure to enquire with your council if you’re unsure about anything.


3. Supervisor

At certain phases of construction, you will be required to undergo assessment and have a supervisor, usually elected by yourself, to check and sign off on the building. These phases can include, but not limited to;

  • Design Stage
    • A formal letter of certification is usually required by the council BEFORE you undergo any works on your land.
  • Intermediate Stages
    • Can include trench inspections, footings, reinforcement inspections, framing etc. How often the supervisor comes to inspect and sign off can depend on the type of structure you are planning, be sure to discuss this with them before you begin so you know how often they will have to be on site and how much it’s going to cost you.
  • Final Sign Off
    • After all the hard labour has been complete, the supervisor must make one final inspection before signing off a Statement of Compliance to ensure the structure is suitable for its purpose. This must be submitted to the correct authorities, usually local council.

You will need to give the details of the supervisor to the council once you have elected them. They will need to be licensed and the council will have to approve of them before commencement.


4. Liability

While this once again varies from state to state, currently in South Australia you are liable for up to 10 years after the Final Certification was signed off by the supervisor for any harm or damages that may occur due to the structure. Therefore, it is highly recommended that you do not cut any corners and ensure that the supervisor is 100% satisfied with the job.


5. Loan Difficulty

Lastly before you begin to attempt becoming an owner builder you must firstly ensure you have the finances for undergoing such a task. If you are considering taking out a loan to complete the project, you may find that many banks straight out refuse to lend money out to owner builders while other have very tight restrictions on the total amount that can be borrowed. It is important that before you commence that you investigate and ensure you can borrow enough money if necessary to complete the job and that you’ll be able to repay the loan within the time frame.

Owner Builder: 5 Key Considerations