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News & Inspiration

Owner Builders vs Project Home Builders

May 30, 2019 | Project Homes, Inspiration

Becoming an owner-builder has become increasingly popular in recent years, amongst a society of skilled, ‘can do’ go-getters who enjoy the process and results of large-scale ‘do it yourself’ projects.

The appeal lies within the amount of total control that one has over all aspects of the project – from design through to construction, the materials used and other aspects such as budgeting and working to their own timeline.

But, what does it take to become an owner-builder?

On top of organising the construction, there are certain legal requirements that you must first meet to become an owner-builder.

If you are not already a registered builder, the first thing you will need to work out is whether the value of the work you are undertaking requires you to apply for an owner-builder permit from NSW Fair Trading.

For example, in New South Wales, you will need an owner-builder permit when the value of the building work is more than $10,000.

Mincove Homes Callala Project Home Display Home

As an owner-builder in NSW, you must:

  • Obtain relevant permits from your local council
  • Be listed as the owner-builder on building permits
  • Get a Certificate of Consent before you start construction on any works over $10,000
  • Engage a building surveyor to issue building permits, complete building inspections and issue an Occupancy Permit on completion of your new home
  • Make sure that all work meets the required building regulations, standards and laws
  • Arrange building inspections as legally required at certain stages throughout the build
  • Obtain domestic builders insurance if you sell your home within six years
  • Provide a defects inspection report if you sell your home within six and a half years

Owner-builders also need to undertake an approved course or have an existing accreditation, before applying online for their required owner-builder permit.

Getting the finance to owner-build

If you do decide to become an owner-builder, be aware that getting finance can also be a real challenge.

Most lenders in Australia are reluctant to offer loans to owner-builders, as they feel there is too much risk involved.

This hesitance comes from the ‘big banks’ having been burned by owner-builder budget blowouts and incomplete homes in the past.

So, whilst some banks avoid owner-builder loans altogether, those who do offer them often have strict conditions that need to be met, such as having enough equity, enough savings or a guarantor willing to provide security.


What are my responsibilities as an owner-builder?

Once you have obtained an owner-builder permit, and had your finance approved, comes the responsibilities required of you as an owner-builder.

As an owner-builder, you will be responsible for:

  • Organising, overseeing and supervising all trades
  • Ensuring that any contractor engaged is appropriately licensed and insured to do the work contracted for
  • Ordering of all materials and managing the building site
  • Ensuring that the materials used and craftsmanship applied will be fit for the purpose and result in a dwelling that can be occupied
  • Obtaining all necessary council and authority approvals
  • Ensuring that the financial, taxation and insurance requirements of the building work are met, and fully comply with all laws
  • Knowing your obligations under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and the Work Health and Safety Act 2011 to provide a safe work environment that complies with SafeWork NSW requirements (significant penalties may apply if you don’t meet this obligation)

Mincove Homes build in progress

Five things owner-builders need to know

  1. An owner-builder permit isn’t the same as a builder’s licence. But, owner-builders are still legally responsible for ensuring that all subcontractors are licensed, insured and provided with a safe working environment.
  2. ‘Supervising’ means more than just making sure your trades turn up on time. Owner-builders need to make sure all workmanship meets a certain standard, which is why building experience helps.
  3. It’s harder for owner-builders to secure a construction loan than for homeowners who engage a licensed builder. Most banks will only lend up to 60% of the land value, plus construction costs.
  4. Lenders normally make progress payments rather than a lump sum, with each payment dependent on the project reaching a certain stage. (Again, basic knowledge of the build process).
  5. The vast majority of lenders won’t approve a loan after construction has commenced, or accept a partially completed home as security. In short, budget conservatively, and don’t start construction until the loan is approved.

Mincove Homes tradespeople quality craftsmanship

Why builder’s experience is almost essential

Approximately only a fifth of owner-builders have a background in construction. However, to manage a build to the scale of a single dwelling-house or a dual occupancy, an understanding of the building process is essential.

Basic knowledge of the build process is crucial as you will need to be able to handle complex situations such as co-ordinating and having your trades booked in, (in advance and in the right order) so that as one is finishing, the other is ready to begin.

Whilst smaller projects are generally feasible for people with organisational and problem-solving skills, the complexity of building a new home would be virtually impossible without construction experience.

Builders experience Mincove Homes

So, is being an owner-builder worth the hassle?

The experts warn budding owner-builders to consider whether they have the time, resources and know-how/experience to manage a new build, before diving in.

A lot will depend on your personal circumstances. If you work full-time and don’t have a lot of spare time, or don’t have a whole lot of industry experience, then becoming an owner-builder may not be worth it for you.

Why trust a project home builder with my new build instead?


Reliability & peace of mind

You may have been considering becoming an owner-builder due to the appeal of knowing exactly who will be carrying out works on your project, and when.

As trusted project home builders in the Shoalhaven and Wollongong areas and surrounds, here at Mincove Homes we work with a carefully selected, reliable team of local trades who uphold the same values around quality and reliability that we pride ourselves on.

Our trusted and experienced tradespeople turn up on time, every time, and produce quality craftsmanship – every time. Our rule of thumb is that if we wouldn’t be happy with it in our own homes, then it’s not good enough for yours.

Your new build will almost certainly happen quicker, and at less cost

The truth is, well established project homes builders are able to offer you the most efficient and cost effective management and construction of beautiful new homes, as we are working in bulk scale.

Due to our high turnover of quality new home builds per year, we are able to purchase materials and hire trades at reduced costs that just would not be achievable as a sole owner-builder.

As we have established close working relationships with highly qualified architects, designers and great local trades and suppliers, we have vast experience in and control of the scheduling, which we do in less time than other builders (or owner-builders).

This is what allows us to deliver beautiful, quality new homes, that feel custom built – at project home prices.

When you deal with Mincove Homes, you’re dealing with experienced Designers, Architects and Colour Selection Consultants, as well as award-winning Tradespeople.


We will take care of the entire process for you

From the minute you choose your favourite home design, right through to the moment you receive the keys to your beautiful new home – we take care of all aspects of the build process for you.

We are by your side from the very start, guiding you as needed through every stage of the build to help you make the right decisions about the things that are important to you, such as your home design, customisation and colour and finishing selections.

We also take ownership of your required approvals such as the Development Application process for you, as well as arranging the reports required to establish your home, including contour surveys, soil reports and wind ratings.

Through every stage of the process, we are here to offer you guidance and advice.

Mincove Homes Client Handover

Learn about owner builder permits in NSW and our trusted process 

To have a chat about your new build, or for further information about the requirements for owner builder permits in NSW, chat with one of our friendly and experienced New Homes Consultants. Give us a call today on (02) 4256 0222.

Have a question? Get in touch

Call us on (02) 4256 0222 or send us a message below.

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