About owner building
Owner building is the term used when someone does a residential building project on their own land without employing a licensed builder to oversee the project.
If you want to do some owner building you may need an owner builder permit. You need to have this permit approved before you start any work on the site.
Who needs a permit
You need an owner builder permit if you want to undertake or supervise a building project valued at more than $11,000 on:
- your own land
- company-owned land if you are a company director
- land that you lease (if you have permission from the land owner).
For farm buildings the value of work can be up to $27,500.
This allows you to personally perform the building work and take on the role of head contractor on a building project. You'll be responsible for engaging and co-ordinating your contractors, as well as scheduling the work.
Note that you can only do some types of building work as an owner builder.
Special rules for farm buildings
You can build, renovate or alter farm buildings up to the value of $27,500 without an owner builder permit. However, if your project will cost more than $27,500 you need to engage a licenced contractor to do the work.
Note a farm building is one built on farm land (land wholly or primarily used for agriculture or pastoral purposes) and intended to be used for genuine farm work, i.e. it can't be a shed used to store things like personal items, household goods or town cars.
When to apply for a permit
You need to have your owner builder permit approved before you start any work on the site.
Depending on your circumstances, we may be able to approve owner building work after it is completed so that you can have the work certified. However, you may be fined for working without a permit. You will also have to pay an application fee for us to approve the work after completion.
To be eligible to obtain a permit to build on your property you must be:
- an owner – Your name must be on the title.
- a company director – If a company owns the property you must be one of the directors.
- a lease occupier – If you're living on land under a lease, licence, or other authority from the owner you can apply for a permit. You must get permission from the owner to carry out the work under the permit and the owner must understand exactly what work you plan to do. We suggest you get legal advice before you apply to make sure you understand your rights and obligations.
Most people need to do an owner builder course before they apply for an owner builder permit.
QBCC or interstate licensees and some professionals are exempt from doing the owner builder course.
You cannot apply for an owner builder permit if you or any of the applicants on the form (including directors of a company applicant):
- have been served with a notice by the QBCC for carrying out Tier 1 defective work
- have not paid a fine for a QBCC infringement notice
- have had an owner builder permit cancelled by us in the last 3 years
- already have an owner builder permit issued in the last 6 years, although we sometimes grant exemptions to the 6-year ruling.
What work can an owner builder do?
- build a new home
- renovate, alter or extend an existing home
- build a garage, carport or residential shed
- build a swimming pool for residential use
- build a pergola or entertainment area for residential use
- complete a new home from a particular stage contracted to a QBCC-licenced builder (e.g. a QBCC-licensed builder was contracted to build the home to the enclosed stage and you want to do the last stages)
- carry out occupational work such as plumbing, draining, gas fitting or pest control unless you have an occupational licence (i.e. a plumber's or gas fitter's licence etc.)
- carry out fire protection work or mechanical services work valued at more than $1,100 (unless you have the appropriate licence)
- remove more than 10m2 of asbestos
- carry out mechanical services work
- build commercial or industrial buildings (e.g. shops, industrial sheds, farm buildings)
- build or renovate multiple dwellings (e.g. duplexes, attached granny flats, boarding houses, blocks of units or single units in a unit block)
- do any work not stated in your permit conditions.
Estimating the value of your project
Add together the cost of all materials and labour you need to finish your project. Note that you must work out the trade price for these items, including GST.
This means that if you are getting the work done at discounted rates or for free you need to estimate what it would cost to hire a licenced contractor to do the work (including GST).
You also need to find out the retail cost of materials (including GST), even if you have picked them up for free or bought them second-hand or from a salvage shop.
If your project will cost more than $11,000 you need an owner builder permit.
If these costs increase during your project you can notify the QBCC by filling out an Application to amend an existing owner builder permit (PDF, 968.5KB).
Disadvantages of owner building
No access to home warranty insurance
Owner builders are not eligible for insurance through the Queensland Home Warranty Scheme. This insurance protects home owners who have a contract with an appropriately licenced contractor. This insurance helps home owners when:
- the contractor fails to finish the building work for reasons which are not the home owner's fault
- the contractor fails to rectify defective building work
- the building is damaged when the ground subsides or settles.
Limited number of projects
You can only do a limited number of projects as an owner builder.
We can only issue one permit to you every 6 years. In some circumstances you can apply for an exemption to obtain another permit within 6 years.
It may impact on selling your property
A notification of the owner builder permit attaches to the title of the property and may have an impact when you sell.
After we issue the permit, we notify Titles Queensland and they place a notification of the owner builder work on the property title. This owner builder administrative advice only remains on the title for 7 years.
If you sell the property within 6 years of the completion date, you must tell the prospective buyer in writing. You can apply to remove the owner builder administrative advice from the property title 6 years after you have completed the work (the completion date is the date your certifier signs off on final documents).
The QBCC maintains an online register of owner builder permit holders. Anyone can search this register by name or address.
Owner building as a QBCC licensee
If you are a QBCC licensee and you want to work on your own property you may find there are benefits in taking out an owner builder permit.
QLeave levy applies for work without a permit
QBCC licensees working on their own properties without an owner builder permit must still pay the QLeave levy.
If you take out an owner builder permit you are exempt from paying the levy on work done under the permit. QLeave can only grant you an exemption from the levy if you present them with your owner builder permit.
This means that, depending on the value of the work you intend to do, it may work out cheaper for you to apply to be an owner builder.
Licensees are exempt from the owner builder course
If you are a current QBCC licensee you are automatically exempt from doing the owner builder course. You simply need to include your QBCC licence number on your application form.