You're about to embark on an exciting journey of personal and professional growth. Today, we will discuss how to become an owner builder in Victoria.
But first, let's clarify what it means to be an “owner builder.”
Simply put, as an owner builder, you take on the role of a project manager for your construction work. This means you'll be responsible for obtaining necessary permits, overseeing the construction, and ensuring the project adheres to the required standards. It's a hands-on, rewarding role that gives you ultimate control over your project.
Now, why is becoming an owner builder so popular in Victoria?
Well, the reasons are as diverse as the people who choose this path. Some are drawn to the potential cost savings, while others relish the opportunity to customise every aspect of their dream home. Additionally, there's a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes with seeing a project through from start to finish.
In the following sections, we'll dive into how you can embark on this thrilling journey. So, if you're ready to swap your hard hat for a project manager's helmet, stick around! We're about to get started.
Determining your eligibility is the first and most crucial step in your journey to becoming an owner builder in Victoria. After all, you wouldn't want to start dreaming up blueprints only to find out you can't apply.
First and foremost, you must be at least 18 years old to apply. You also need to own or co-own the land where the building work will take place. It's important to note that the property must be intended for your personal use—this means it can't be for a commercial venture or for sale.
Another key point is that as an owner builder, you can only carry out domestic building work. This includes construction, renovation, improvement, maintenance, or alteration of a home (including landscaping, garages, and swimming pools).
Now, let's talk about the documents you need to prepare. These vary depending on the nature of the work, but generally, you should be prepared with the following:
- Proof of Ownership: This could be a rates notice, contract of sale, or a Certificate of Title.
- Plans and Specifications: Site plans, floor plans, and elevations—you'll need these to demonstrate what you intend to build.
- Insurance Details: Depending on the cost of the work, you might need to provide proof of owner builder insurance.
Remember, this is just a high-level overview. The specifics can vary based on your unique situation and the nature of your project.
Step-by-step Application Process
You're ready to take the plunge? That's excellent news! Let's navigate the application process together so you know exactly what to expect. Here's your step-by-step guide to becoming an owner builder in Victoria:
- eLearning Assessment: First things first, you'll need to complete the Owner Builder eLearning assessment. This assessment is designed to ensure you understand your roles and responsibilities as an owner builder. It covers everything from planning and managing your project to understanding building laws and safety regulations.
- Prepare Your Documents: While you're working on the eLearning assessment, start gathering all the necessary documents. As we mentioned earlier, this typically includes proof of ownership, plans, and specifications, and possibly insurance details.
- Construction Induction Training: Next up is construction induction training, also known as the White Card course. This is a mandatory requirement for anyone who wants to carry out construction work. It covers essential health and safety information to keep you and others safe on the building site.
- Apply via VBA360: Once you've completed the eLearning assessment and gathered your documents, it's time to apply! You'll do this through the VBA360 online portal. The portal guides you through the application process, and you can save your progress as you go. So, no need to stress if you can't complete it in one sitting!
- Pay the Fee: Last but not least, you'll need to pay the application fee. The amount varies depending on the cost of your proposed building work, so be sure to check out the VBA's fee schedule.
Selling an Owner-Built Home
We get it, sometimes you've poured your heart and soul into constructing your dream home and now you're considering selling it. But, as an owner builder, selling your home within six years and six months of completing the building work comes with certain responsibilities.
Don't worry, though! We're here to guide you through this process in a friendly, engaging, and conversational manner.
Getting Covered: Domestic Building Insurance
First things first, let's talk about domestic building insurance. As an owner builder, if you're planning to sell a home you've built or renovated, you must purchase this insurance for the work you carried out if two conditions are met:
- The building project was completed less than six and a half years ago from the date of issue of your occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.
- The value of the building project was over $16,000.
The purpose of domestic building insurance is to protect the future buyer of your property against any defects if something unforeseen happens to you, like death, insolvency, or disappearance.
Remember, you need to purchase this insurance before entering into a contract to sell your home. But hey, if the property doesn’t sell, you may be able to cancel the policy and get a refund on the premium. So, it's a win-win!
All About Details: Defects Inspection Report
Next up, let's discuss the defects inspection report. For this, you'll need to hire a registered building practitioner, such as a building surveyor, building inspector, or an endorsed building engineer, to provide you with a defects inspection report. This report should be fresh, meaning it must be less than six months old when you sell your property.
This requirement, however, doesn't apply if you, the owner-builder, are a registered building practitioner.
The building inspection report should be drafted using specific templates by your registered building practitioner. You'll find the Domestic Building Report template for owner-builder construction, as well as the Non-Domestic Building Report template for owner-builder construction, very handy.
Click here for the templates direct from the VBA.
Remember, being an owner builder is about more than just building a structure – it's about creating something you can be proud of. So, take the time to understand the process, comply with all regulations, and, most importantly, enjoy the journey. After all, how often do you get to build your dream from the ground up?
Frequently Asked Questions
Where do I find the state government website for owner building in Victoria?
Simply click here and head to the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).
Can I hire professionals to help with my owner builder project?
Yes, you can. In fact, it's often recommended, especially if you're new to construction or tackling a complex project. Just remember that as an owner builder, you're still responsible for ensuring all work is up to code.
What happens if my owner builder application is denied?
If your application is denied, the VBA will provide reasons for the denial. You can address these issues and reapply.
How long does it take to get approval for an owner builder permit?
The length of time it takes to receive approval can vary depending on the complexity of your project and how busy the VBA is. However, generally, you should expect to wait several weeks for a response.
What happens if I start building without an owner builder permit?
Building without the necessary permits can result in hefty fines and penalties. It could also potentially result in your building being deemed illegal, which can cause significant issues down the line. Always ensure you have the necessary permits before starting any construction project.