With renovations and home shows on every channel on TV now and an increasing interest in the building game there is more and more discussion that anyone can be an owner builder and you will save thousand by doing it yourself but is that really the case? 

Owner Builder Vs Registered Builder 

The Owner Builder can certainly be a rewarding experience and say this as I built my own home but it doesn’t come without great responsibilities (and a headache). It also becomes your full-time job otherwise your build will suffer and the construction time will drag out which starts to chew up those thousands you are saving by doing it yourself not to mention any mistakes or delays are all on your budget too unlike with a fixed price contract from a builder. Its great if you’re up for the challenge but let’s walk the facts on who can be an owner builder and the legal and financial risks you take as an owner builder.

 To become an owner builder, you need to apply through the Building Commission of Australia and each property owner needs be listed and qualify. They have a point scoring system where each owner needs to achieve a total score of 100 points each.

There are four sections that divide the points:

  • Assessment 1: Site Occupational health and safety knowledge and experience

  • Assessment 2: Complying with applicable building standards

  • Assessment 3: Construction Knowledge and experience

  • Assessment 4: Contracts supervision

You are also asked to provide supporting document or certifications to support your score.


The last step of the application is the declaration confirming you understand the following building regulations and that you will comply with them:

  • Applicable laws such as the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011, the Building Act 2011 and the Building Regulations 2012;

  • Other laws such as the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1984;

  • The Building Code of Australia and other standards applicable to the work

  • Planning requirements and provisions for the protection of adjoining property

Now lets look at what a qualified builder dose during a build and you may compare if you can do all these:

  • Prepare and interrupt detailed plans and specifications for construction

  • Read and interrupt detailed engineering plans

  • Complete all necessary insurances such as home indemnity insurance and public liability 

  • Obtain all local authority approvals and any other building approvals required

  • Know the going rate and prices for all trades and suppliers

  • Put in place all sub-contractors and supplier terms and agreements including progress payments

  • Request the relevant certifications from all trades on site

  • Have a trade base of tried and tested quality workmanship

  • Walk every trade through OHS requirements  

  • Handle and resolve financial and contractual disputes with suppliers or sub-contractor

  • Be on site or on phone at any time to resolve or answer any issues/ queries

  • Receive materials and confirm they comply with the required standards and quality

  • Coordinate the flow of works on site to minimise any down time on site

  • Qualified to supervise all building works

  • Distinguish what is considered poor building works

  • Wear any costs from mistakes or time delays when entered into a fixed price contract

  • Sign off on BA7 to local authority confirming compliance with all regulations and making the signed applicate responsible for the structural warranty.


Registered builders in WA are highly regulated and must continually keep applying to keep their building registration every few years so you know that any builder that can provide you with an active building registration number is qualified and up to the task. We are held by tough laws and governed with strong penalties. We take our registration seriously and will not jeopardise this.

Some other facts about being an owner builder:

  • Did you know you have only 6 month from your owner builder permit being approved to have an approved building permit and if your Building permit expires so does your owner builder permit?

  • Did you also know your only applicable to be an owner builder every 6 years?

  • Did you as an owner builder you are subject to the same penalties and infringes a builder is under the home building contract act? And that as the builder you take responsibility for every trade thats on your site?

  • Did you know as an owner builder you are responsible for any defect to the home and hold the structural warranty on the property?

  • Did you know if you wanted to sell you property within 7 years of the owner builder works you need to provide the new buyer with a copy of the home indemnity insurance and you could be responsible for fixing up defects after you have sold the property?

  • Did you know in order to obtain home indemnity insurance you may be asked to provide private certification for several sources to sign off that the home has been built to comply with standards or as per engineering which will cost you to obtain these certifications and if it’s not up to these private sources quality or detail you will have to wear the bill to bring the works up to their satisfaction


If you're still thinking about being an owner builder we suggest you enroll yourself into an owner builder course to get all the information you need as well as copies of the building regulations manuals. I would suggest looking at the Home Base Expo course.

You will also get points for completing the course which goes towards your owner builder qualifying score.


If you're thinking the owner builder process seems a little too much for you but you would still like to be involved in your build or supply or do some of the works yourself, talk to us today. We are a builder that understands it's your home and the satisfaction that comes with doing works on your home and we will accommodate this with you as much as possible. 

Written by Tara Scott.