Can an Owner Builder do Waterproofing? - Owner Builder Club

Can an Owner Builder do Waterproofing?

Can an owner builder do waterproofing

So, you're contemplating taking on a building project, and the question on your mind is: “Can I, as an owner builder, do the waterproofing?”

It's a big question! Becoming an ‘owner builder' means taking on lots of responsibilities, and waterproofing is one of those tasks that might seem a bit daunting.

This decision doesn't have to feel like you're trying to solve a Rubik's cube. In this friendly guide, we aim to bring some much-needed clarity to your question. We'll dive into the nitty-gritty of what waterproofing involves when you're the owner builder.

We'll walk you through the process and explore whether it's a task you can confidently tackle yourself or if it might be something you'd want to consider getting professional help with.

The Owner Builder's Responsibilities

In a nutshell, an owner builder is someone who takes on the responsibility of managing their own construction project rather than hiring a licenced builder to do it all. It's a bit like being the director of your own movie, except the movie is your dream house or renovation project.

As an owner builder, you're not just in charge of the big picture but also the nitty-gritty details. From planning to execution, it's all in your hands. And that includes understanding various construction processes, from laying the foundation to installing the roof.

Being an owner builder has its perks. You call the shots, and you can save money. But it's not all sunshine and rainbows. There are challenges, too, like managing contractors and dealing with unexpected issues that crop up.

It's a bit like baking a cake from scratch; it's more work, but you get to decide exactly what goes into it.

Understanding Waterproofing

Now, let's talk about something crucial in any building project – waterproofing.

It's a hero who works behind the scenes to keep your building dry and safe from water damage. Think of it like an invisible shield, protecting your property from the onslaught of rain, leaks, and dampness.

Waterproofing plays a critical role in maintaining the health of your building. Without it, water can sneak in and cause all sorts of problems, from mould and mildew to structural damage. It's like keeping an umbrella handy; you hope you won't need it, but when the rain comes, you'll be glad you have it.

Can an Owner Builder Do Waterproofing?

In Australia, to perform any waterproofing work, a specific licence is generally required. The exact requirements vary by state, but the overall principle is consistent: waterproofing is considered a specialised licensed trade.

For example, legally in Queensland and NSW, only a licensed professional (who is certified) is allowed to undertake the work. And in other states, the work must be signed off and certified to confirm it meets the Australian Standards.

So unless you have the specific licence, the answer is NO, an owner builder cannot perform waterproofing.

What is the Australian Standard for Waterproofing?

Generally, all waterproofing work needs to be carried out in accordance with the Waterproofing of domestic wet areas AS 3740-2010 (this is the Code for 2022. There was a slight change adopted in May 2023 – always check for further updates).

When it comes to bathrooms, these standards provide information for:

  • The required height for waterproofing of shower floors and shower walls
  • The height of bathroom walls required for waterproofing
  • Waterproofing of the step down from the shower to the floor
  • Regulations if the bathroom is not on the ground floor
  • Regulations if the bathroom floor contains any wood

The Benefits of using Licensed Contractors for Waterproofing

From what we've outlined above, it's understandable that using a licensed contractor for waterproofing is a necessity. And to 

Experience Matters

Just like you wouldn't want an amateur chef cooking up your five-star meal, you wouldn't want a novice handling your waterproofing project either.

A certified licensed contractor has been through the wringer (we hope) – they've undergone rigorous training and they should understand the building codes inside out. They're like the superheroes of waterproofing, ready to tackle any challenge that comes their way.

However. As the buck stops with you, it's worth having a conversation with any waterproofer including asking to see their licence!

Peace of Mind

Hiring a licensed contractor who is bonded and insured can give you just that. It's like a safety net, protecting you from any potential damages that could occur during the project. Imagine being able to sip your morning coffee, knowing that your home is in good hands. Ah, bliss!


A licensed contractor knows fundamental skills necessary to do the job, such as blueprint reading. It's like having a secret weapon in your arsenal, ensuring that your project runs smoothly from start to finish.


As an owner-builder, we know you'll have your fair share of DIY successes (and let's hope not too many failures). But if there's one thing you've learned, it's to know when to bring in the professionals, especially regarding waterproofing.

So, don't be shy about calling in the professionals when needed. After all, we can't all be experts in everything. And when it comes to waterproofing, it pays to have an expert on your side. Because a dry home is a happy home, and that's something we can all raise a glass to!

Frequently Asked Questions

What's the difference between waterproof and water resistant?

In simple terms, waterproofing is a coating that keeps water where you don’t want it.

Water resistant means a material that will repel some water but not all.

What are the common challenges with waterproofing?

If waterproofing fails due to incorrect application, the damage to your home can be significant, not to mention costly.  Water damage can result in your home becoming structurally compromised and can lead to mould issues which are costly and difficult to resolve. However, if you trust a professional to wet seal your bathroom, they will guarantee their workmanship for an extended period, so if anything happens to go wrong, you’re covered.

What are the steps to waterproofing?

These are typically the steps to waterproofing:

  1. Clean the area
  2. Apply a primer
  3. Silicone any gaps
  4. Apply the waterproofing agent
  5. Add waterproofing membrane
  6. Once dry, apply remaining waterproofing membrane
  7. Apply a 2nd coat
  8. Check if your state requires written certification

How much does waterproofing a bathroom cost in 2023?

It ultimately depends on the size of the bathroom, the scope of the work and what materials are required. But generally speaking, the average cost can be from $500 to $1,000 however can go as high as $4,000.

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