Owner builders are individuals who perform the function of a licensed builder while managing the build on their own residential land.
Those who possess an owner builder permit are authorised to act as the contractor for all constructions projects taking place on their property.
There are a number of reasons why you may want to obtain an owner builder permit including savings, time, and ultimately; control over the project.
Let’s take a look at some of the best owner builder courses in Australia if this is something you’re considering.
The Short Answer: Owner Builder Centre of Australia
- Offers State accredited courses in NSW, QLD, and WA
- Provides owner builder training to over 3,000 people per year
- The Company offers owner builder insurance
- Free legal assistance, contract templates, and safety documents
The Owner Builder Centre of Australia provides accredited training to people looking to obtain their certificate in NSW, QLD, and WA. The requirements, coursework, and materials provided vary based on what state you’re in.
The NSW course for example offers owner builder insurance, building contracts, legal assistance, and your SafeWork NSW White Card which is essential for legal operation as an owner builder.
You must be 18 years old to sign up for this course, possess or have interest in residential land where the building will go, and you must intend on living in that home.
The course ranges in price from $236 to $394 depending on whether or not you intend on getting your white card.
Other Great Owner Builder Course Options
Best Owner Builder Course QLD
- In-person and online coursework
- Nationally accredited courses for Builder Owners in NSW and QLD
- Designed to be self-paced which is great for working professionals
- 12 years of experience in the business
Abacus Training provides coursework in both NSW and QLD. The reason we chose this as the best option for Queensland is because they’re one of the only companies still offering in-person training in the state.
It’s important to have options and many people may prefer to go obtain their certificate and white card in-person.
That said, if you need a self-paced learning plan, you can elect to take the online course and work on your own time.
The owner builder course in QLD to satisfy the Queensland Building and Construction Commission requirements is $137. If you need to obtain the white card which is recommended, the cost for both courses is $427.
Best Owner Builder Course NSW
- NSW Fair Trading approved course
- Affordable at $185 (subject to change)
- Self-paced online learning
- Taught by industry leading trainers
Simplicity and ease of access are important when searching for an owner builder course in New South Wales. This course from Absolute Education is functional on all devices so you can study on lunch breaks, in between other classes, or whenever you have time.
You’ll receive training from the highest quality experts in the state with decades of experience in the construction industry.
One thing we found highly unique about this education platform is that they don’t charge you upfront. Instead, you don’t pay for the course until you pass and you can even sit in on a free practice exam to see what the course will look like.
The course is approved in all states, comes in 15 different languages, and they provide planners, contracts, templates, and official owner builder permits mailed the same day.
To complete the full course with white card it’s $240 which is always subject to change so it may have gone up by the time you read this. It’s still more affordable than a lot of other options we’ve found.
Best WA Owner Builder Course
- Providing online owner builder courses in WA since 2015
- Provides legal counsel and assistance in applying to the Building Services Board
- Course contains all topics required to obtain white card
Abe Education is a full-scale continuing education platform specialising in adult learning. They offer courses in real estate, building, owner builder, and construction white card training.
If the total cost of your build exceeds $20,000 in WA, you’ll be required to take this course and provide evidence of coursework and completion.
All of this is essential if you want to become an owner builder in your state and Abe Education is a well respected and trusted education platform with years of experience certifying owner builders.
Best Online Owner Builder Course
- Not the complete prerequisite for obtaining an owner builder certificate
- Coursework is self-paced for up to 6 months
- Learning is done entirely online
It’s important to understand right away that Tafe Queensland offers a preparation for an owner builder permit course.
This is a non-accredited short course that works in conjunction with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission but it does not satisfy all the requirements needed to actually obtain the certificate.
Upon completion of this course, you’ll have to apply for the owner builder permit and may have to undergo additional training and more coursework before you can fully obtain your certificate.
Tafe Queensland provides a number of options for you in terms of payment with payment plans, upfront payment, and even backend payment in some situations. There are no entry requirements for this course so it can serve as a springboard for someone who is unsure if they’re interested in this or not.
Keep in mind that the cost of $385 is pretty steep for a non-accredited program and is actually more expensive than some of the other options that will fully certify you. Still, this online owner builder course is worth looking into.
Best Owner Builder Course in Tasmania
- The only approved Tasmanian-based provider
- Self-paced and classroom learning options available
- Offers everything you need to receive your certificate including white card
- In business since 2006
Whetstone is a Tasmanian-based owner builder course that started in a basement in 2006. The company has grown quite a bit since then and now works on nationwide projects from small to large contracts all across Australia.
Their application process is a bit more strict than some of the other ones and they expect you to have credentials upon even applying to the course.
Some of these credentials are:
- Having title to the land you want to build
- Are not currently a registered builder
- Willing to complete the workplace safety in the construction industry course
- The application must be submitted through a recognised Building Surveyor
What we gather from this application is that they expect people interested in this course to be serious and have owner builder loans or financing in place before even entertaining the idea.
The good news is, the course is only $180 (subject to change) but you’ll need to pass an entry assignment/interview before they’ll even consider you for the course.
Best Owner Builder Course Victoria
- The course satisfies all requirements to become an owner builder in Victoria
- Victoria is the only state in Australia where it is not required to possess a certificate
- A certificate of consent is required in place of a white card and can be obtained through BCN
As mentioned above, Victoria is the only state where you’re not required to go through a complete owner builder course. Instead, you must simply demonstrate experience and knowledge well enough to qualify yourself as an owner builder.
This is done through a Certificate of Consent from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). You’ll want to read the study guide from Building Centre Network and apply for a Certificate of Consent through this program.
From there you can take an assessment and complete the application process.
All of these steps will determine if you have enough previous experience, have made an effort to learn, and are qualified based on financing and land possession concerns to obtain a WorkSafe Victoria White Card which is different from the other white cards.
Most Important Factors To Look for In Your Owner Builder Course
If you intend on becoming an owner builder, you’ll need to undergo some form of coursework and or vetting process.
Naturally, if we’re going to let someone build their own home, it’s important that only the most qualified individuals do this to prevent long-term repercussions.
When you’re obtaining your education and going through the process, you’ll want to make sure you’re doing everything you can to learn as much as possible. Here are some important factors to keep in mind as you look through the courses above.
Accreditation is the simple most important factor to consider when taking an owner builder course.
There are a ton of legal requirements involved in construction and if your training is not accredited by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, Victorian Building Authority, NSW Fair Trading, or WA Mining Authority, then your education isn’t going to apply when you want to obtain your certificate.
We’d like to assume that the majority of people taking owner builder courses are adult learners and likely have full-time jobs, businesses, and children to chase after. The last thing you have time for is an incredibly strict course that requires you to miss work and time with your family.
That’s why most of these programs are designed for adult learners and set up in a way that allows you to go at your own pace.
Look for self-paced coursework that offers both a hybrid of online and in-person learning. This allows you to come into the classroom when needed but stay home and learn from wherever as well.
It’s also important that the coursework provides a wide variety of lectures, self-paced reading, and interactive learning that allows you to collaborate and learn with instructors and other students.
There are a ton of legal requirements involved with becoming an owner builder. Where they become even more complicated is when you break them up based on the state you live in. Some requirements are the same across Australia, while others vary from territory to territory.
There are six basic requirements that you’ll find no matter where you live, they are:
- Applicant must be 18 years of age or older
- You must own the property and possess the title
- You need to intend on living the house you build
- The construction site and environment must be safe
- You need to intend on adhering to safe building practices
- You must possess owner builder insurance for protection against accidents
Let’s elaborate from there based on the state you live in.
New South Wales Requirements
In NSW, you need to obtain a white card by going through a complete owner builder course accredited by the NSW Fair Trading organisation. One exemption from the basic rules in NSW is that you don’t have to live in the dwelling you build so it’s a great option for investors.
You need to obtain the white card if the estimated cost to build is over $10,000 and you receive development consent from the local counsel. Even if you don’t live in the house, you need to be a shareholder of the land for at least three years
Rules and Regulations
- You’re only allowed to build one property every five years. This applies to both single and joint owners.
- You cannot perform any type of specialist work without first obtaining that trade licence. This includes heating and cooling, electrical, pipe fitting, and plumbing.
- Selling the house you built requires a special sales contract that includes the fact that the house was built by an owner builder if the house is sold in less than eight years after building.
- If this is the case it also has to have owner builder warranty insurance.
Obtaining an owner builder licence in Victoria requires you to go through the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). They have their own assessment and process that is quite different from other states because they do not specifically require you to go through an accredited course.
You need to own the property you plan on building on and intend on living there, the value of the build needs to be over $16,000, and you cannot be in the real estate business and enter into a contract to sell the house you built.
You’re required to have at least five years in between each build and you need to obtain a WorkSafe Victoria White Card if you plan to employ subcontractors. This requires you to take the VBA Owner Builder eLearning Assessment.
Rules and Regulations
- You cannot carry demolition or home relocation.
- Only one build is allowed every five years.
- You must wait seven years to sell the home and need to obtain a final inspection from a surveyor, inspector, or engineer.
QLD has separate requirements which excludes the need for a white card. Instead, you’re required to obtain an Asbestos Awareness certificate along with your traditional owner builder course.
The construction value must be over $11,000 to require the licence, you’ll need to go through the accredited QLD course like the one from Abacus Training, and you’ll also need to complete the asbestos awareness training.
If you’re personally capable of doing all the work yourself, you can build a farm building up to $27,500 in value, otherwise these buildings are not permitted under owner builder law.
You need to possess the title of the property you own or proof of stake in ownership that is no older than 30 days. You must also provide a certificate of completion of the asbestos awareness program and all other building permits if necessary.
Rules and Regulations
- You need a fresh owner builder permit that has not been cancelled
- Only one build every six years
- Work done under owner builder permits in Queensland is not covered under Home Warranty insurance
Tasmania has some of the most specific requirements for owner builders but if you can make it through all the finer details, they’re also the most relaxed about what you’re capable of doing with your accreditations.
If you’re building a farm shed, garage, carport, porch, deck, or temporary swimming pool with a safety fence, you do not need to obtain an owner builder permit.
Only single family dwellings that you intend on living in are eligible for owner building and you’re required to take the Tasmanian owner builder responsibility course.
Rules and Regulations
- You’re only allowed to build two 1a projects every ten years.
- Companies and trusts cannot apply for an owner builder licence, only individuals.
Western Australia Requirements
WA is the only territory where you can perform a renovation on an existing commercial structure under an owner builder licence.
You can construct a detached home, build a non-habitable building like a garage or shed, and make small alterations to commercial builds with a total floor space of 500msq.
Rules and Regulations
- You’re only allowed to build once every six years.
- owner builder licences are only issued to individuals and not trusts.
- Sale of the home in less than seven years required home indemnity insurance.
How do I become an owner builder in Australia?
The requirements to become an owner builder vary depending on your location but there are a few that stay the same. You need to be at least 18 years old, you need to pass some form of coursework that qualifies you as an Owner Builder, and you need to intend on living in the dwelling you build.
How long does an owner builder course take?
An accredited owner builder course takes anywhere between 60-80 hours to complete. You can do this at your own pace in online courses or follow more strict guidelines with in-person coursework.
How much does it cost to become an owner builder in QLD?
Including application fees, licensing, and course work, expect to pay almost $750-1,000 when everything is said and done. Keep in mind that this is just to become an owner builder and once you’ve obtained all the licences you’ll need to secure financing for the build.
If you’re interested in becoming an owner builder in Australia, you have a lot to think about. It’s not an easy process, there’s a lot of paperwork, coursework, and steps involved but it’s worth it in the long run.
The Owner Builder Centre of Australia offers courses in NSW, QLD, and WA so you have options to choose from if you’re not sure about your specific requirements. We would suggest giving them a first look and seeing if you can find what you’re looking for. If not, you can use some of the other options to break it down more specifically based on the state you live in.