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Home | Courses + Compliance | Owner Builder Courses | NSW - Owner Builder Course | About Owner Builder Permits in NSW

About Owner Builder Permits in NSW


How to undertake the Compulsory Learning Units of Competency required to obtain an Owner Builder Permit:-

  • Complete the Course Online $189 -TO ENROL or for for more details, click here.
  • Study by Hard Copy Correspondence $229 - TO ENROL or for more details, click here.


About Owner Building and Owner Builder Permits in New South Wales

Who needs to be an Owner Builder ?

Owner Builder work is defined as any work (including supervision and co-ordination roles) involved in the construction of, or alterations to, repairs of or additions to a dwelling. To be eligible for an Owner Builder Permit, the development approval must be in respect of a single dwelling house, or secondary dwelling.

  • where the reasonable market cost (including labour and materials) exceeds $10,000, and
  • which relates to a single dwelling-house, dual occupancy* or a secondary dwelling:
    • that requires development consent under Part 4 of Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979, or
    • that is a complying development within the meaning of that Act.

*NOTE : An Owner Builder Permit will only be issued with regard to a dual occupancy project or need in cases of special circumstances. If applicable, contact Fair Trading on 13 32 20.

A home owner who wishes to project manage the building of their new home, extension, improvements, dual occupancy, swimming pool or smaller projects such as a garage or deck, on land or a home in which their name is on the Title Deed and where the value of the planned residential building works exceeds $10,000 including materials and labour, must do so officially as an Owner Builder and requires a Development Consent from your Local Council. Sometimes a Licenced Builder or Kit Home Builder may suggest they build for you under your Owner Builder Permit. You must :-

  • be over 18 years of age
  • own the land or have a prescribed interest in the land (certificate of title or rate notice) on which you plan you build
  • you live or intend to live in the completed home as single dwelling house or as a secondary dwelling
  • not have built as an Owner Builder in the past 5 years, unless the application and any earlier permit relate to the same land, or unless special circumstances exist


When is an Owner Builder Permit NOT needed ?

  • where the market value (labour and material) of the residential building work is less than $10,000
  • where the work to be carried out does not require development consent.


When is an Owner Builder Permit NOT issued ?

  • for renovations to an existing apartment / unit / flat / townhouse within a strata complex
  • where the property is not for residential purposes.


What are the limitations under an Owner Builder Permit ?

An Owner Builder Permit is NOT a building licence. It therefore does NOT allow you to :

  • work other than the project covered by the Develpment Application (DA) or complying Certificate.
  • carry out specialist work such as electrical, plumbing, gasfitting, air conditioning and refrigeration work (unless you hold a licence for such work).


Do I need to complete an Owner Bulder Course in order to apply for the Owner Builder Permit ?

If the the value of the work you plan to carry out is valued at more than $20,000 you will also need to complete certain units of competency through a Registered Training Organisation (RTO), OR have the approved equivalent qualifications and experience. Additionally, for any work requiring an Owner Builder Permit, you must hold a current general construction induction training card (generally known and the White Card for OH&S).

Before applying for a Permit, you must have successfully completed through a RTO the following Learning Units, and you can enrol through us (see below).

Compulsory Learning Units of Competency

The Owner Builder education requirement for a Permit consists of the following five (5) units of competency from the Construction, Plumbing and Services Inductry Package (CPC08):

● CPCCOHS2001A Apply OHS, requirements, policies and procedures in the construction industry

● CPCCCM2001A Read and interpret plans and specification

● CPCCCM1011A Undertake basic estimation and costing

● CPCCCM1013A Plan and organise work

● CPCCCM1014A Conduct workplace commmuncation

From 1 January 2011, the 91509NSW Course in Owner Builder Compliance met the education requirement. This Course will continue to meet the requirement if you have completed it, although the Course is no longer available after 15 July 2015.

Any other owner-builder course which may have been previously undertaken is not recognised as meeting the education requirements for undertaking owner-builder work.

When you have successfully completed this course, the RTO will issue you with a Certificate of Attainment (COA). Currently once you have obtained a Certificate of Attainment, it is 'for life', and so you can use it tp obtain another Owner Builder Permit for future owner building projects. But remember only one (1) Owner Builder Permit can be issued to an individual within any five (5) year period, unless the application and any earlier Permit relate to the same land, or special circumstances exist.

You then go to any NSW Fair Trading Centre, complete the OFT Owner Builder Permit Application Form, and if approved, you will be issued with an Owner Builder Permit for your current project. When applying for your Owner Builder Permit, you must also provide:-

  • a description and address of the proposed work with a copy of the plans and council development application number or complying development certificate number.
  • where the value of the proposed work is over $20,000, evidence that you have either completed the approved Owner Builder Course, namely your COA.
  • pay the Fee for Permit (currently $93.84, which includes a non refundable processing fee of $63)

A Permit cannot be issued for work that has already commenced. A spouse or relative will not be issued with an Owner Builder Permit for their partner’s or family’s land.

Also, there are specific rules for applicants where a company owns the land. Contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20 for details.



Before you may commence this Course, you must hold a NSW WorkCover White Card. We can help you obtain one, by choosing the 1 Day Sydney CBD Workshop Course, CLICK HERE, or Online Course, CLICK HERE.



OB Construction and Public Liability Insurance

The public liability aspect of this insurance covers you if a family member or member of the public is injured as a result of the building work. You are liable because you own the property.

As you are intending to be an owner builder, or to contract out any type of building work (for which you remain responsible for coordinating) it is strongly recommended that you protect yourself by taking out a Public Liability Insurance policy. 

This insurance needs to be paid and in position BEFORE construction work commences, and sometimes before a local council will issue their construction consent. To organise your Owner Builder Construction and Public Liability Insurance, we can help you, simply CLICK HERE NOW, for a FREE Online Quick Quote or CLICK HERE to read more.


Workers Compensation Insurance.

Owner Builders should take out a Workers Compensation Insurance Policy and ensure that they are fully covered the people they engage to carry out work. Any contract is engaged by an owner builder may be deemed to be a work of that owner builder.


OB Volunteer (unpaid) Workers Insurance.

If you are planning to do work yourself, or to have family, friends or mates help you FREE, for your peace of mind you may wish to put in place, loss of income and permanent disability or death protection for up to 10 'volunteer (unpaid) workers' on your building site. To organise Owner Builder Personal Accident and Volunteer Workers Insurance, click here to read more or apply online now for a Quick Quote.


Contract Works Insurance.

This insurance should be obtained by licensed builders and contractors you properly engage and receive a receipt of payment. It is so your protection and covers loss or damage to materials and work completed. If the builder or trade contractor does not have this type of insurance, you may risk inconvenience, time delays and disputes if materials are damaged or stolen.


Insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund.

Does the total contract sum, including materials supplied by the contractor, or each contractor exceed $20,000 ? If so, each licensed contractor (builder or tradesperson) who contracts directly with an owner builder to do residential building work must provide insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund (previously called Home Warranty Insurance) from an approved insurance provider.

You as the owner builder should receive a copy of the certificate insurance from the licensed contractor before:

  • work starts
  • you pay any money (be sure you obtain a receipt of payment)


Selling your Owner Builder built home is no longer covered by insurance.

WARNING: Insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund is no longer available for building works carried out by an owner builder. Should an owner builder’ or a successor in title to that (owner builder) person decide to sell their home within seven (7) years and six (6) months after an Owner Builder Permit was issued, the Contract Of Sale must include a note (a consumer warning) stating that “an Owner Builder Permit was issued in relation to the land on (the date that Permit was issued)”.

Work done under an Owner Builder Permit is not required to be insured under the Home Building Act 1989 unless the work done by a contractor, or contractors, to the owner builder individually is worth more than $20,000 each. Then that Home Building Act insurance cover is provided by the proper engagement and payment of the licensed contractor or company.

If the consumer warning is not included in the Contract of Sale, the purchaser can void the Sale Contract before Settlement.

WARNING: As an Owner Builder you are guaranteeing the work you undertake if you sell within 7.5 years. The next immediate owner of the property is entitled to the benefit of the statutory warranties set out in the Home Building Act 1989, and can take you, the owner builder, to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal to enforce their statutory warranty rights. This may result in a money order against you.


Further impotrant aspects of Owner Building.

Potentially there are savings and satisfaction to build as an owner builder, but there are also many risks, responsibilities and liabilities, do not take short cuts in the learning stage.

Before work commences you need to obtain an Owner Builder Permit, see details above and usually before construction consent is issued by a local council and before finance is approved.

Owner Builders are required to name ALL other owners of the land on an application for the Owner Builder Permit. This is recorded on the Permit to prevent people using this system to carry out commercial unlicensed building work. Any owners named, cannot apply for another owner building permit for a different property for 5 years.

If you need on-site guidance or to sort out a problem, engage a member from our Get It Right Network Inspection Services. Either telephone us or advise us of your needs 'online', click here.

To build without an Owner Builder Permit may involve significant financial penalties.

Finally, one cannot retrospectively apply for an Owner Builder Permit on commenced or completed work. Be aware, you cannot obtain Owner Builder Home Warranty Insurance if you subsequently live outside of Australia.

A bit more about what is Owner Building, from the Office of Fair Trading (OFT)

Owner builder work is any work (including supervision and co-ordination) involved in the construction of, or alterations, repairs or additions to, a dwelling (which includes a house, terrace, town-house, garage, swimming pool and certain other structures and improvements):

  • where the reasonable market cost (including labour and materials) exceeds $5,000
  • which relates to a single dwelling or dual occupancy:
    • that requires development consent under Part 4 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
    • that is a complying development within the meaning of that Act


Some cautionary words from Fair Trading.

As an Owner Builder, you are responsible for:

  • overseeing and supervising all tradespeople
  • ordering of materials and management of the building site
  • 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
  • being aware of your obligations under the Workers Compensation Act 1987 and Occupational Health and Safety Act 2000 and providing a safe work environment that complies with WorkCover requirements
  • ensuring any contractor engaged is appropriately licensed and insured to do the work contracted for
  • warranting that the work and materials will be fit for the purpose and that the work results in a dwelling fit for occupation


Do your sums before you start and ask yourself if any saving you will make is worth the time and responsibility it will take. As an owner-builder you are guaranteeing the work you undertake.

If you do not want the responsibility of being an owner builder, you should be wary of a builder who suggests you obtain an Owner Builder Permit while they do all the building work for you. This may be a ploy where the builder is shirking responsibility, is unlicensed, or is unable to get necessary insurance.


Tips when engaging Tradesmen.

All tradespeople (whether contracting directly with home owners or sub-contracted through a builder), who undertake residential building work costing over $1,000 (labour and materials), must hold a licence from the NSW Fair Trading for the type of work they are to do. Specialist tradespeople who carry out any of the following must be licensed regardless of the cost of the work:

  • electrical wiring
  • plumbing, draining and gas fitting work
  • air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances)


Once you find a trades person and before you sign any contract, do not forget to:

  • ask to see their licence
  • go to the online licence check on the Fair Trading website to make sure it is current, valid and suitable for the work you want done, or call Fair Trading and do a licence check over the phone on 13 32 20


Each licensed contractor (builder, trades person or project manager) who you contract directly to undertake residential building work must provide Home Warranty Insurance from one of the approved insurance providers, when the total contract sum exceeds $12,000 (including material supplied by the contractor). The certificate of insurance should be provided to the Owner Builder before taking any money on the contract and before starting any work.

Also obtain a receipt for ALL payments you make.

  • Owner Builder "No Nos"

It is an offence under the Home Building Act (maximum penalty $22,000) for the holder of an Owner Builder Permit to:

  • knowingly engage an unlicensed contractor
  • lend your permit to another person
  • refuse to disclose to an authorised officer the names and addresses of contractors working on the site


An Owner Builder Permit is not a building licence. It does not allow you to:

  • do work other than the project covered by the development application or complying development certificate
  • do specialist work such as electrical, plumbing, gas fitting, air-conditioning and refrigeration work (unless you hold a licence for such work)


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