The Owner Builder Checklist - Owner Builder Club

The Owner Builder Checklist

As Winston Churchill once said – if you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.

So here’s our checklist of “Must Do’s” to help get you started (also check out ‘Relevant Links' below):

Do your research

  • Read as many articles and talk to as many people as possible about becoming an Owner Builder.
  • Join our growing community on Facebook (it's a closed group) and learn from real life Owner Builders.
  • Contact your local council to find out EVERYTHING about the building process including development application (DA), required approvals and the building permit.
  • And importantly, head to our Pre-Plan page or Plan page for loads of information!

Think about your budget (can you afford it?)

This is serious. You DO NOT want to get part way through a build only to run out of money. NO NO NO!

So. We highly recommend you understand all the costs associated with an owner builder project. Know upfront what you can afford and allow for anywhere from 15% to 30% extra.

Click here to read what our resident Mortgage Broker says about finance.

We've also developed a brilliant (detailed) budget planner, tried and tested by real life OBs. And it's FREE! Simply email as at and we will send you to you ASAP.

Get clear on what you want

You need to work out what's important to you, what you like and don't like. Your style, design, vision, colours the lot.

Can't go without a butler's pantry? Well, it should be on your list of non-negotiables!

Rip pages out of home magazines, record details of what you've seen in houses you love, scroll Pinterest to your hearts content and watch re-runs of The Block for inspiration.

Consult an Architect or Draftsperson

You're going to need plans for when it comes time to submit your Development Application with Council and to get your Owner Builder Permit. We think you'd be crazy not to engage one or other.

This is when you'll start to bring your vision to life.

Click here to read what we've provided about the design process.

Do an Owner Builder course (and get a White Card)

Owner Builder course requirements differ from state to state. A course is mandatory in most states just not SA or NT. In VIC, the course is done through the VBA.

The requirements regarding a White Card also differ from state to state.

To learn more, head to our Courses page and simply select the state you're building in from the drop down!

Get your Owner Builder Permit

Learn more about this by hitting – click here.

Get a Building Permit

A Building Permit is issued by your local Council and is required BEFORE work commences.

Get required insurances

As an Owner Builder, you need to think and act like a builder because at the end of the day, the buck stops with you.

So. Do you think a registered builder would operate without insurance? Correct. The answer is no.

We did THE best interview that drills down into all things Insurance. It's a must read so click here and you'll be an expert by the end of it!

Get organised

This should probably go further up the page because we highly recommend you think about how you’re going to keep all paperwork and information in one place. How about small A4 folders from Officeworks or Ikea? Clearly labelled as you see fit? Or plastic folders? Think about filing under quotes, permits, inspiration, plans etc.

Whatever your style, you need to nail this tip before you even begin!

And remember, starting and completing a home building project can be challenging and rewarding at the same time.

We can’t stress enough the importance of planning and being organised. And if planning is not one of your strengths right now, commit to developing it!

The last thing we'll say is this – be clear on WHY you chose to become an Owner Builder. When things get tough (as they will), it might just help to remind yourself of your why 🙂

Get access to our FREE TOOL!

Oh my goodness, if you DON'T do this, you're crazy. It will give you preliminary checklist, trades and materials checklist, quality checklist and the build sequence (all printable) AND all broken down by the stages of build. Seriously, just get access by clicking here (it's super easy).


How to become an Owner Builder – click here.

State government links – click here.

The Building Process – click here.

All our Q&A's with industry experts and real-life Owner Builders – click here.

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Showing 2 comments
  • Gabbi

    Thank you for all this information! Its so great to have this as a helpful resource for owner builders.
    Can I ask, what sort of signs should I be displaying on my site, as an owner builder?

    • Owner Builder Club

      Hi Gabbi, thanks for your message! It depends on which state you’re building in as the requirements for signage differ. Generally speaking though, a sign needs to include your name, permit number and contact number. The sign also needs to be weatherproof and a certain size. Best to check with your state government 🙂

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