Owner Builder Permit Restrictions and Conditions
Each of the Owner Builder regulating authorities places certain restrictions and conditions on the use of an owner builder permit.
For our major owner builder student base, we are going to do a quick comparison.
However, before we consider the differences lets look at the fundamental principles of an owner builder permit that remain consistent across all of the states and territories:
An owner builder permit is available to an owner of a property or someone who has an interest in a property such as a long term lessor or a trustee where the property is held in a trust.
An owner builder permit is for the primary purpose of building, extending or renovating a domestic dwelling that the owner builder applicant intends to live in for a minimum specified period of time.
Owner builder permits are issued to a real person only and cannot be issued to an entity, they are restricted in the number of permits which may be issued to a person in a given period of time. This is to protect those registered builders and trade contractors who have significant investment in their skills, knowledge, qualifications, equipment and resources in their business.
An owner builder is not in the business of building.
An owner builder has the same responsibilities as a registered builder and is considered the Principal Contractor.
An owner builder has an absolute responsibility in respect to the Work Health and Safety issues on their site.
The owner builder is responsible for the organisation of all required inspections and certifications for their project and the retention of the associated documentation.
I think that pretty much covers the basics of the obligations and responsibilities that are consistent for owner builder across the states and territories. Lets now have a quick look at the differences:
These are the major differences between NSW and QLD, I hope this has provided a little clarity and answers the common questions that Abacus fields from our owner builder students.
As always, good luck with your project and,
Happy Owner Building.
Well, as promised, we have totally re developed our WHS Management Plan for use by our owner builder students.
This is free to all of our owner builder course students and is a fully functional iPad based checklist proforma that produces full Management Plan in .pdf form that will satisfy the requirements where a project is legally obliged to have one.
So what projects require a WHS Management Plan?
As the Meerkat says: "simples"
Any construction project where the value of the labour and materials exceeds $250,000.00.
To access the template follow the instructions on the website at:
WHS Management Plan
For those of you who do not use iPads, we are in the process of producing a text based template you can download.
The benefit of the app is that owner builders are able to work through the checklist and where it is appropriate, take photos to include in the plan.
It really is a great application and not only walks you through the process, but provides prompts to help you identify hazards and associated risk on your specific project and the tasks that are being carried out.
We look forward to getting feedback on the application and we will be continuing to make improvements as we move forward with this exciting resource.
Over the next few months, our owner builder course students will benefit from the redesign of our resources, including new instructional videos and potentially podcasts with owner builder students who want to share their experience with the rest of the cohort.
In any case, pleas take a look at the WHS Management Plan application and
put it to good use.
The best way to iron out the bugs and make it really useful is for us to react to the comments and suggestions made by our owner builder students.
As always, happy owner building.
Owner Builder Warranty and Defects Obligations
Owner Builder course students should be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to warranties and defects on their owner builder projects.
First we should consider the obligations that a registered or licensed builder would have in respect to works they complete.
Generally, a builder has an obligation for the structural components of a dwelling for a period of not less than 6 years, although some major reputable builders are now offering a warranty period of up to 50 years. Yes, you heard correctly, 50 years.
For an owner builder, it is legally required that you will live in the home you build for a specified period before you are able to sell it without restriction. This time can be reduced or varied at the discretion of the regulator with regard to special circumstances.
Nevertheless, in some states and territories, it is a requirement that all owner builder works are identified on any contract of sale which affect the property and alerts potential buyers of the possibility that works completed by the owner builder may not be covered by a statutory state backed insurance scheme.
When you contract with a builder, they are required to effect individual cover for each project to protect the consumer against failure to complete works as contracted insolvency, bankruptcy or significant structural failure.
This insurance, is called Home Warranty Insurance in some states and territories and is taken out by the principal or head contractor.
But here's the rub.
In many instances, owner builders are not permitted to take out Home Warranty Insurance, go figure!
So how do you protect yourself.
Well this is where it gets confusing and where I have had many differences of opinions with a range of experts in this field.
Under contract law as it is written across the states and territories, there is a requirement for a written contract to exist where the contract value exceeds a specified amount. In some states, this is as little as $1,000.00. ($3,300.00 for Queensland).
Now there is no difference in the requirements for this contract to exist between parties, regardless of if the Principal Contractor is an Owner Builder or a Licenced/Registered Builder. The requirement includes sub contracts.
So, in my opinion, and it is a view not unanimously shared, if an owner builder enters into a contract, with a Licenced contractor, above the specified amount that requires the contractor to effect insurance, then the works carried out under that contract are covered by the contractors effected statutory insurance.
Confused?, Don't worry, so are most trade contractors and registered builders, not to mention the regulator.
When I raise this questions, often the eyes just glaze over and the response is basically to put it in the too hard basket.
Did this post help?
Possibly not, but at least it will raise comment and evoke a discussion. I would like to see what everyone else take on this is.
I know we have an insurance expert (particularly in Owner Builder Insurances) that follows this blog. I look forward to his comments on this post.
Should be interesting.
Happy Owner Building,
There are many things that make me smile when it comes to the service we provide owner builders, but one of the greatest kicks I get is when I am told how the lessons learnt and skills gained are put to great use in another unrelated area of an owner builders life.
Today I got a call from a current owner builder student who was excited to tell me how the Work Health and Safety knowledge gained during his owner builder course influenced actions taken in his workplace.
For those of you in South East Queensland, you will know that we are experiencing a bit of a heat wave here at present with temps in the high 30's and relative humidity around the 90% mark. Pretty uncomfortable!
Not only uncomfortable, but potentially extremely dangerous for workers out in the field.
This owner builder student had recognised some of the heat mitigating strategies and identified an appropriate way of communicating the fluid and Uv protection requirements for himself and his team to the relevant supervisors and managers.
What has resulted is an effective mitigation strategy being developed and implemented which can be as simple as a esky of cold water, wide brimmed hats, sunscreen and worker awareness and education.
None of this is mind blowing or earth shattering, however many times it is a simple prompt that is required to achieve a safe outcome for all.
This is not the only area where the owner builder student is adapting skills and knowledge from the owner builder course, he also informed me of how he is creating better excel spreadsheets and word docs as a result of his studies with us.
The WHS example was important and relevant right now.
For those of you that are interested, this owner builder student is out in the Broadwater and Moreton Bay estuaries at present, working with crustaceans in an attempt to stop the spread of White Spot in our crabs and prawn population.
I guess the lesson here and the point I want to make is keep your eyes and your minds open and you will find enormous benefit from the knowledge and skills developed during your owner builder studies that will in all likelihood be of benefit to you across a range of endeavours and undertakings.
Best Regards and as always,
Happy Owner Building,
Owner Builder Oddities
I was driving down the freeway today and I noticed a small truck carrying a bag that would have measured about 1100mm x 1100mm x 1100 mm.
It had sling type handles on it to allow it to be lifted by a forklift, bobcat or small backhoe.
Although I could not see the contents, I think it was most likely a course sand for use in bricklaying mortar.
I can hear all of my owner builder course students saying "so what?"
Well it got me thinking, the use of bags like this for loose materials such as soils, sand, gravel and concrete mix are a relatively new innovation.
But what is innovative about it?
To me it means a small truck which is not a tipper, can go to the landscape suppliers, pick up a small quantity of product and not have to manually handle it when it gets back to site.
Not only that, in the past, this small load would most likely have been simply dumped on site, causing the contractor (read owner builder), issues in respect to storage, containment, loss of product and potentially sediment control (run off entering stormwater etc.
Now, I have grown up in this industry and now have 40 plus years experience in considering the benefits and use of material handling improvements in the building industry.
As an owner builder, without the benefit of many years experience, how many advantages can you identify in handling loose materials in this way?
Moreover, how often do you see things on a building site that you do not fully understand or appreciate.
So through this post, I want to open it up to you, our owner builder course students, to respond and ask questions about products, processes or techniques you have come across but do not fully understand.
I will try to respond to your questions and explain use, advantage or legislative requirements by way of explanation to your enquiries.
Basically In want our owner builder students to have the opportunity to understand why we do some of the things we do in completing a typical domestic construction project.
I hope this generates some real activity and enquiry and look forward to demystifying some of the 'trade secrets'.
To kick this off, I will place a post on the Learning Management System website directing our owner builder course students to the post.
For now, best regards and,
Happy Owner Building,
Owner Builder Blog Post – Safety Management Systems
An owner builder course student recently asked me whether the ‘free’ Workplace Health and Safety Management Plan offered by one of our competitors represented value.
Answer is simply YES, any resource that promotes safety in the workplace adds value and should be embraced.
We have always been of the opinion that any safety resource should be free and should be readily available to our owner builder students at no cost where possible.
That question got me thinking about the Safety Management System (which includes a WHS Management Plan) that we make available to our owner builder students, and whether or not it needed to be revised and updated to include the latest thinking in respect to site safety and the management of the workplace.
First question I asked myself was;
What makes our safety resources better than those of our competitor?
What can we do to make it even better?
Fact is, Safework Australia makes available, free on its website a WHS Management Plan that is set up to help contractors and Persons Conducting a Business Undertaking (PCBU) maintain compliance in respect to work health and safety on their construction sites.
This resource is a great resource and is supported by text and information including worked examples that help anyone develop a compliant document.
So, what is the value in Abacus Training developing its own WHS Safety Template to offer to our owner builder students?
I think the answer lies largely in the fact that our system is presented in a way that is consistent with the way we provide all other resources and learning materials.
In saying that, I mean we want you to have ‘ownership’ in your learning. We want each of our owner builder students to have developed the skills to identify and apply the components of the Abacus Training Owner Builder Safety Management System, to meet the individual and specific needs of their project.
I have witnessed the production of many Operations Manuals for companies to simply meet compliance requirements or to satisfy provisions in a tender to demonstrate operations under a Quality Management System.
Nine times out of ten, if I questioned the accountable manager as to the contents of their Operations Manual I would get the same answer;
“No idea, we had a Consultant come in and produce it for us (at huge cost to the company), now it just sits on the shelf.”
To me, this is just not good enough, if you are responsible for a Project, you need to understand how to use the tools available to help you manage the project in the best way possible. This will result in a safe and efficient work site, one that you can truly take pride in.
That is why we have structured the Owner Builder Safety Management System the way we have.
It starts with the information you need to consider in your role as an owner builder in respect to work health and safety on your site.
It then provides tools, guidance and a simple format which will direct you to establish an appropriate WHS Management Plan for your project.
As an Owner Builder, it is important to remember the following:
In addition to the above, I encourage each of our owner builders to visit the Safework Australia website and download any of the Model Codes of Practice that are relevant to your site and the range of activities or tasks to be completed.
Work through our Safety Management System to identify potential hazards on your owner builder site and to develop the processes and documentation to manage the safety of your project.
Develop strategies that will ensure you communicate the site specific dangers to all contractors and visitors to your site and have an effective process for collecting and reviewing Safe Work Method Statements for all contractors conducting High Risk Activities on your owner builder project.
Even if your owner builder project has a value less than $250,000.00 you are still responsible under WHS legislation for the safe operation and conduct of the site. Make certain you fulfil all your obligations in this area and do not take safety lightly.
Unfortunately, there have been many deaths on owner builder sites in recent years. The number is considered disproportionally large when consider against similar construction projects run by registered building companies. This has resulted in a focus on owner builder project safety by the relevant regulators.
As always, be prepared, be informed and remain disciplined in your overall approach to your owner builder project and always be vigilant in respect to the hazards and associated risks that exist on your site.
If in doubt seek professional or experiences advice.
Rick Heaton is a Building and Construction Industry professional with formal tertiary qualifications in management and training.