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Queensland Owner Builders
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is a Queensland Government statutory body and part of the portfolio of the Minister for Housing and Public Works. QBCC was established under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (QBCC Act) to regulate the building industry.
The QBCC supports the growing Queensland community by providing information, advice and regulation to ensure the maintenance of proper building standards and remedies for defective building work. Led by the Commissioner and governed by a board, the QBCC consists of a skilled and expert team of staff working to meet the needs of building and construction industry participants and the community.
The QBCC administers the QBCC Act. The objects of the QBCC Act are to:
Regulate the building industry to -
- ensure the maintenance of proper standards in the industry
- achieve a reasonable balance between the interests of building contractors and consumers
- provide remedies for defective building work
- provide support, education and advice for those who undertake building work and consumers
Regulate domestic building contracts to achieve a reasonable balance between the interests of building contractors and home owners.
Regulate building products to ensure -
- the safety of consumers and the public generally
- persons involved in the production, supply or installation of building products are held responsible for the safety of the products and their use
- provide for the proper, efficient and effective management of the commission in the performance of its functions.
In Queensland, if you're considering doing a building project on your own, it helps to know the rules and regulations before you start.
If the value of the work is over $11,000 you will need to be issued with an owner builder permit from QBCC. They will assist you with the permit process and supply you with a list of providers to do the requisite "owner builder" short course. QBCC also provide examples of the contracts you should use during your build.
The QBCC Owner Builder Permit 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 the scheduling of work.
If you intend applying for a permit, read about your responsibilities to be aware of what you can and can't do and some of the disadvantages of going it alone.
What You Can and Can't Do
Work you can do as an owner builder:
- 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.
Work you can't do as an owner builder:
- occupational work such as plumbing, draining, gas-fitting or pest control unless you have an occupational licence
- fire protection work in excess of $1,100 (unless you have the appropriate licence)
- build commercial or industrial buildings (e.g. shops, industrial sheds, farm buildings)
- build or renovate multiple dwellings (e.g. duplexes, boarding houses, block of units).
Note: There are special provisions for farm buildings. If the value is no more than $27,500 an owner can personally do the work.
Owner Builder Disadvantages
There are restrictions on the number of projects you can do as an owner builder. Only one permit every six years can be issued to an Owner Builder.
Some of the services that are available to homeowners who engage a licensed builder are not accessible to owner builders. This includes access to Queensland's Home Warranty insurance scheme.
The Home Warranty insurance, which protects owners against incomplete or defective work, is not available to owner builders.
Owner Builder Permit Applications
If completing the Owner Builder Permit Application Form (PDF) the following must be included:
- an original or certified copy of a current title search or Registration Confirmation Statement (no more than 30 days old) from the Titles Office
- proof of a completed owner builder course, or exemption approval
- proof of identity
- application fee.
To calculate the value of the work, you must include:
- cost of the materials (the value can't be reduced if they're discounted or recycled)
- labour costs (the amount a licensed contractor would charge you for the work).
The value of labour can't be reduced even if it's provided free of charge.
If you're applying as a company, include the following with your application:
- proof of company directors – Company Historical Extract or Historical Company Extract from the ASIC Historical Company Extract Providers PDF)
- all company directors' names and signatures on the application form.
Written Agreements and Contracts
It's important that you have a written agreement between yourself and your sub-contractors. If you choose to create your own agreements, make sure they include the following:
- the name and licence number of the builder/trade contractor
- the address of the land where the building work is to be carried out
- the scope of the building work
- the commencement and completion dates and any grounds for extensions of time
- the amount to be paid for the contracted work (inclusive of GST), including details of the amount and timing
- any deposit and progress payments (where appropriate) – in addition to the final payment
For any contractual problems or issues, you should seek legal advice. The following link provides examples of contracts you should use:
Owner Builder Responsibilities
It's important that you understand your responsibilities and obligations as an owner builder. It will help to ensure that your project runs to plan.
- You must only carry out work covered in the permit.
- Anyone you engage to carry out building work must be a licensed contractor.
- You can't perform any occupational work such as plumbing, draining, gas-fitting or pest control unless you have an occupational licence. The work must be carried out by a licensed contractor. You can be fined if you carry out this work yourself.
- You must have the appropriate licence to perform any fire protection work higher than $1,100 value.
Before work starts, you must display a sign on your site. Failure to do so could mean a fine.
The sign must:
- be clearly visible from the street
- show your owner builder permit number
- be made of weatherproof material
- be at least half a square metre in size
- be printed in letters at least 50mm high.
You need to maintain quality control and oversee the standards of workmanship on your site.
You are also responsible for carrying out safe work practices. See Workplace Health and Safety (Qld) for more information.
Dealing with Problems on Site
If you get into a dispute with your contractor over defective work we (QBCC) may be able to assist you reach a solution via QBCC dispute resolution service.
You can also apply to the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) or seek independent legal advice for assistance.
If you and your contractor have a disagreement over payment or any of the conditions of the contract, you'll need to get legal advice.
Be aware that if you don't pay your subcontractors and suppliers, they can use the Building Industry Fairness (Security of Payment) Act 2017 (BIF Act) to resolve their payment dispute. See BIF Act information for owner builders (PDF) for further information.
Owner Builder Work with No Permit
If you carry out owner builder work without a permit, QBCC may issue a fine.
If you've started carrying out owner builder work without a permit, you can still apply for a permit for the work yet to be carried out.
Complete the Owner Builder Permit Application form (PDF) and include:
- the owner builder course certificate
- a full description of the work to be carried out under the permit, and the work already started
- the application fee.
QBCC can't issue a permit once the owner builder work is done, but they can send you a letter to apply for development approval. The letter also informs the Development Assessment Manager that no insurance premium is payable for the work.
If you've completed work without getting an owner builder permit and need to apply for development approval, complete the Notification of Owner Builder Work Already Completed form (PDF).
Attach the following documents:
- current Title Search (no older than 30 days)
- payment for placing the notification on Title
- if you are applying as a company – a current ASIC report.
Change, Replace or Surrender Your Owner Builder Permit
- You can change some details on your permit (description or value of work) by completing an Application to Amend an Existing Owner Builder Permit form (PDF).
- If you need to replace your owner builder permit, lodge the Owner Builder Replacement Permit form (PDF) with the replacement fee payment.
- You can surrender your owner builder permit in writing at any time. Once surrendered, you can't perform any more owner builder work on the property. Complete the Application to Surrender an Owner Builder Permit form (PDF).
- If you surrender your permit after work has started QBCC don't cover any work you did under the permit under the Queensland Home Warranty insurance scheme. This includes any work done by a licensed contractor. Your property title will still have a notification about the permit for 7 years.
- If you surrender your permit before work starts because you decide to have a licensed contractor do the whole job, you must surrender the permit before you sign a contract.
HIA and MBA
Whilst undertaking a project as an owner builder can result in financial savings, it is important to talk to a member of either the Housing Industry Association or the Master Builders Association and make a comparison of the advantages and disadvantages of owner building.
If you want to undertake or coordinate any domestic building work valued at $11,000 or more – whether it be to build a new home or renovate an existing one – you must obtain an owner builder permit. Owner builder permits are issued by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and will only be given to an applicant named on the title of the home. The owner builder status will remain on the title of your home for six years.
Homes and renovations that are to be carried out on steep or unique sites, require special building materials or include architect-designed features may have better outcomes if put into the hands of qualified and experienced custom builders, rather than being attempted by first-time owner builders.
Owner Built Pre-purchase Inspections
If you are contemplating the purchase of an owner built or renovated property, it is very important for the following pre-purchase inspections to be conducted by licensed and experienced professionals. Owner Built and Renovated Properties are not covered by Queensland's Home Warranty insurance scheme:
Using a licensed and qualified pest control expert for your pest inspection is important. A pre-purchase pest inspection differs from a regular termite inspection. If you are considering a termite barrier system using a an experienced pest control expert as your pest inspector (rather than 1 person doing both building and pest) is highly recommended.
The QBCC supports the growing Queensland community by providing information, advice and regulation to ensure the maintenance of proper building standards and remedies for defective building work. By doing this QBCC promote confidence in the building and construction industry.
QBCC service centres are located throughout Queensland including Brisbane, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast, Toowoomba, Maryborough, Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns. Industry stakeholders and the community are also able to engage with the QBCC online or over the phone.
Researched, Compiled, Composed and Written by Dr Steven Gration – June 2019 SEO & eCommerce Gold Coast
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