As part the Home Building Act review, we are looking at how the owner-builder permit scheme has been operating and the improvements that can be made to ensure it is fit for purpose. 

The owner builder scheme was established to allow certain building work on a person’s property to be overseen by the owner. 

Under the current scheme an owner-builder permit is required for an individual who wishes to complete any building work, including the supervision and coordination of construction, alterations, repairs or additions to a property, that exceeds $10,000. 

The work must relate to a single dwelling-house, dual occupancy or a secondary dwelling home. 

While the scheme was intended to provide land owners flexibility to undertake legitimate building work, feedback from industry and customers have revealed that some developers are using the scheme to provide opportunities for commercial gain or profit, and avoiding their obligations of statutory warranties and insurance to subsequent owners. 

The Bill proposes tightening the eligibility criteria for owner-builders applying to get a permit. This includes additional checks as part of the application process.  

An owner-builder will now need to submit proof of ownership and declare any connections to previous owner-builder work.   

This means an applicant will need to prove that they have not held a previous permit in the last 5 years and they do not own (or have owned land), land that has had an owner-builder permit attached to it within that period, including in a partnership,.  

In addition to this, owner-builders will now need to show that the work completed relates to their principal residence, or as a secondary dwelling as part of their main residence, such as a granny flat.  

We are also proposing to remove the exceptions that allow owner-builders to complete building work on dual occupancy dwellings.  

Plans, and additional information will be required to be lodged on the NSW Planning Portal as part of the development consent for the work.  

This will allow greater oversight of the owner-builder permit scheme and ensure a better record keeping process that can be accessed by subsequent owners.

Finally, there restrictions to the kinds of work that an inexperienced or unqualified owner-builder can do are being proposed to ensure unlicensed people are not completing major building work. 

The proposal would limit the kind of work that can be done under an owner- builder permit to only exempt building work such as installing a deck, painting a house, and other minimal impact projects. There will be longer be a monetary threshold.  

We are seeking your input on what exempt work an owner-builder should be allowed to do as part of the submission process, this will form a list to be outlined in the Regulations.  

In addition to this, Owner-builders will be allowed to take on a project manager function to coordinate the supply and installation of a pre-fabricated building onto their site.  

A licensed builder will still be required to complete building works, lay a slab or install footings, installation of the building and any ancillary structures, and any other work that requires a licence.  

The proposed changes to the scheme does not intend to restrict genuine owner-builders from completing minor works or coordinating works on their home, however it hopes to reduce the number of people using the scheme as a means to avoid their obligations to produce compliant buildings for future owners.  

We are seeking your feedback on how we can shape the owner-builder permit scheme to allow home-owners to complete works on their home in a way that does not risk their safety, and the safety of subsequent owners, while also ensuring compliant work. 

Feedback can be given via the have your say website either by uploading a submission or answering the survey questions.