Home Building/Owner Builder

Home Building Laws

If you are in the home building industry, or building or renovating your home, you need to be aware of changes to home building laws.

Most of the changes came into effect early 2015. 

The changes are extensive but include a new definition of what is considered a ‘major defect’. This will broaden access to the 6-year warranty period to give consumers greater protection. Fire safety and waterproofing are now recognised as major elements of a building.

Other changes mean that:

  • You need a licence for building and general trade work over $5,000 (previously $1,000). Specialist work (such as plumbing, electrical and air conditioning) still need a licence regardless of the cost of work.
  • You must name all other owners of the land on your application for an owner builder permit. This will be recorded on the permit to prevent people using the system for commercial unlicensed building work. Any owners named cannot apply for another owner-builder permit for a different property for 5 years.
  • Owner-builders are prohibited from getting a permit for a dual occupancy except in special circumstances.
  • You need an owner-builder permit for work valued over $10,000.
  • You need to do an owner-builder course for work valued over $20,000.
  • All owner-builders must provide evidence of having done basic work health and safety training.
  • The Home Warranty Insurance Scheme was renamed the Home Building Compensation Fund.

For full details about the changes visit the NSW Fair Trading website. 

Owner Builder

An owner-builder is an individual who does owner-builder work and holds a permit for that work.

Owner-builder work is any work (including supervision and coordination) involved in the construction of, or alterations, repairs or additions to, a dwelling (which includes a house, terrace, town-house, garage, swimming pool and certain other structures and improvements):

  • where the reasonable market cost (including labour and materials) exceeds $5,000

For information about what is owner-builder work, owner-builder responsibilities, getting an owner-builder permit, approvals needed for building work and insurances for owner-builders visit the NSW Department of Fair Trading Office's website.