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Is DIY Building Work Ilegal?

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So, you've caught the building bug. And given your lifelong interest in construction and design, you're wondering if you can cut the builder out of the process and do the whole thing yourself.

Well, that depends.

This handy guide aims to answer all your questions about the owner-builder process and whether you should hire a pro or build your own home.

Can I build my home without a builder?

Each state and territory has its own laws and regulations around DIY construction. Get the lowdown on the Licensed Trades website.

For instance in Queensland, if you're constructing a teeny weeny property valued at less than $3000, then you can do everything yourself. But really, besides perhaps a garden shed or a house for a mouse you're going to be spending a whole lot more on your property.

For any works above $3000 you'll need to hire a licensed contractor. And if your construction costs go above $11,000 you're legally obligated to obtain an owner-builder certificate or permit.

In Western Australia, a building permit and license must be obtained for works valued above $20,000.

These rules may seem frustrating, but they're there to protect you and anyone who ends up living in the property. With the proper training, tools and team, you can be confident constructing a safe, sound and secure home.

What is an owner-builder permit?

Building your own home can be very satisfying, not to mention a money saver as you don't need to pay labor costs. It's also ideal for having total control over the build and resulting design.

In fact, in Victoria alone there were 23,000 owner-builder permits issued in 2009.

Just bear in mind that being an owner-builder isn't a stroll in the park. Unless you have construction experience, you'll need someone to lend a hand throughout the entire build. Consider hiring a project manager and paying them a small percentage of the costs, to ensure the project comes in on time and on budget.

Realize, too, that you're responsible for permits, safety on site, insurances, arranging inspections and managing tradies. You'll also need to ensure the construction meets strict building regulations and standards.

To obtain an owner-builder permit or find out more, contact the building or licensing authority in your state or territory.

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