Owner Builder Information

G'day All

A potted history:

Recently attended the 17.5 hours Successful Owner Building course at Holmesglen TAFE (Chadstone, Vic) (approx $375, Friday pm, Saturday and Sunday)

Enjoyed it so much I am now enrolled in the Course for Builder's Registration, with a view to obtaining the Domestic Builder's Registration (approx $1,650)

This course runs for 205 hours, each Friday evening and all day Saturday for 17 weeks. It covers site management, business operations, Australian Standards, demolition, termites, construction, concrete etc It is NOT a trade course, there are no practical workshops, this is to become a licensed operator of a building business.

Currently doing a full (Read: Gut and rebuild) renovation, am having great fun, getting really dirty and am on a steep learning curve. Personally, I can now get up to the sixth rung on the ladder which is a major achievement, and can pull rat's nests out of walls without retching. Yeah! And yes, herding the various trades onto the site at the appropriate times is a problem, so the theory of a Critical Time Path remains a theory!!

Here are a few links which could be helpful:


http://au.search.yahoo.com/search/anzwers?p=owner+builders&y=au --- this is simply going tp the anzwers search engine and typing in owner builders.

It is important to keep in mind that every state will be different, although the MRTFB (Multi Residential Timber Framing Code) is, I think, designed to be Australia wide.

By the way, I am not living in the properties under renovation, I intend to do 20 of these over the next five years, I have no intention of entering into a building contract with anyone to do work for them ie no third parties, these will all be trading stock, the time frames are established by me and thus I experience minimal frustration and anziety, and finally, geez mate, I'm having more fun than a barrel of monkeys!*!

And, I get to wear a check shirt, which makes it all official.



And - before I am accused of blind optomism, I would think seriously hard and long before I attempted something like this on a squeezed in on weekends between the day job, the family etc basis. The strain on relationships, the growing interest bill, the lack of rental income etc could mean that any supposed savings by Doing It Yourself would morph into an uninhabitable house and an escalating debt.

In the meantime, there are lots of practical short courses where you can learn fundamentals like repairs & maintenance, tiling, building pergolas, etc which would probably be of more real use as a landlord than as a builder.
Hi Kristine,

You are really one of the true characters on this forum so I hope you never leave us. Your posts always crack me up. Thanks for the info.

You mentioned escalating debt and was wondering if you ever considered taking on investors to supply the funds like Doidge & Eslick do or would the profit to you not make it worthwhile? Other factor is how much of a headache is working with investors?

I ask because you said you are planning to do 20 renos over the next 5 years. If it was a one-off project I wouldn't have asked.

Regards, Mike
G'day Mike

Thank you for your kind words. Yes, I do somewhat resemble a wart - I grow on people over time! Trouble is, like the unsinkable Molly Brown, sitting out there in the lifeboat watching the Titanic assume a 45 degree position and commenting on what a lovely starry night it was, I really am a hopeless optomist and can't understand why other people see problems when I can't.

It's a genetic malfunction which I can't do much about.

Regarding investors, my fabulous broker whose praises I have sung before, organised an excellent 'no docs' for me this time. The gentleman, however, rang me to say that he made no apology for being old fashioned, and would I mind meeting him before he handed over $xxx amount of money. Now, that's what I call civilised!

So my caution in the previous post about ... "uninhabitable house and an escalating debt" ... didn't actually relate to me (this time) but rather as a point to ponder if anticipating renovations or owner/building on a large scale while earning a living (cash flow) elsewhere.

And how are things in jolly England? I enjoy scanning through the posts on Singing Pig - the style and structure of building in England is so different from here. I would really like to get my hands on the excellent electric 'real coal' fireplaces and the tiny instant hot water systems.

The hot water systems would come in very handy for the medical centre I am about to start (you should see the mould on the walls in this one!!!), as then I could simply install a cold water basin with a little heater over in each of the four consulting rooms, and leave the off-peak gravity feed storage tank in the roof for the disabled WC, staff en-suite, laundry, kitchenette and scrub facilities. It's not the length of PVC pipe, but rather the amount of time waiting for the hot water to reach the basins.

Imagine the Doctor standing there, deodorant on their fingers, waiting for the hot water, so instead of a quick wash after checking someone's lymph nodes, it rather looks as if their saying 'Your're such a disease laden person I have to REALLY SCRUB after touching you", or words to that effect.

Doesn't bear thinking about, does it?

One thing which is often overlooked in our renovating fervour, is the gardens.

Ward House, the medical centre (to be) has the most lovely garden, juicy comquats, brilliant lemons, splendid with fuschias, and Hannibal Kristine is going to plunk a ten bay parking area smack in the middle. Think Monty Python Big Foot.

In fact, I think taking plenty of cuttings will be the order of the day.

Myrtle Cottage (current job) has the most resplendent scarlet rhododendrum right in the middle of the proposed driveway to the second dwelling. I have taken some cuttings of it as it is such an unusual colour. How do other renovators approach the much loved family garden situation?

Well Mike, did you get a laugh out of this post? You may not believe it, but I actually talk this way, complete with arm movements. But I've been painting base boards by myself today, and was in need of a bit of a chat. Pity the Hare & Hounds is so far away!



I'm off to Brighton tomorrow. Hope to have a story about that for you to square the ledger.

My current place which I'm renting has a electric instant hot water system for the shower and in the kitchen. Had no problems with them so far. The shower temp setting usually needs adjusting early in the morning. That setting then puts out water which is way too hot later in the day. Last place had one too. Seems to be popular. Great if you're renovating a large building into smaller units. I'll do some research and post it. Do they have them in Australia? I recall seeing one a couple of years back at a Sydney home show. I talked to the distributor and thought it was a great idea. My current place has a hot water tank but I leave it switched off. The instant hot water is fine.


PS: I've now switched the hot water tank back on because I now realize it is used in the central heating system.
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Gday Kristine,

i always enjoy reading your posts......

never let a nice garden stand in the way of making money.....the garden will grow back......bring in the bobcat....

if you're ever in need of a chat there is always someone in the chatroom.......so feel free to come on in.....

Hi Kristine,

I was thinking along the lines of doing multiple reno's and becoming a registered builder (after reading a previous post of yours Kristine!!) and had a quick look at the holmesglen course which covers all the theory required.

I also had a look at the builders registration requirements at


Which level were you planning to apply for and how do you get the 3 years "trade" experience. I coudn't work how:(.

I'm currently studying Bunnings 101 on Saturdays and Sundays with their DIY classes.

Hi, Noddy

Bunnings 101 sounds good!

As you read on the


there are various catergories of 'Builder'.

I am aiming at Domestic Builder 'unlimited'

(ii) a certificate of successful completion of the “Course in Builder Registration (BPB)” accredited under the Vocational Education and Training Act together with 3 years of practical experience to the satisfaction of the Board;

although I have no intention of contracting to do works for anyone else.

Academically I will be eligible to apply for registration, and although the Board may take other qualifications and experience into account, legislation requires practical experience of approx 3 years in order to qualify.

In the meantime, I will continue to operate as an 'Owner Builder', keeping case notes, taking lots of photos and compiling a folio of evidence of experience.

Obviously, to do this, I can only work on my own properties, but that's what I'm doing anyway.

The main attraction for me in becoming registered is that the registration carries greater 'clout' when dealing with suppliers and trades, plus then I can access skilled trades who are not necessarily registered themselves. As an O/B, I can only use registered trades for works which are part of the building permit. Plus, there is a whisper going around that Vic Gov is looking at limiting O/B permits to once each five years. Building your own 'home' but no commercial or trading activities.

So I like to be prepared, and by doing the course now I am laying the foundations (no pun intended) for this next and very exciting stage in my business career.


hi Kristine just a question re the builders registration course.
on successful completion of the course are u in fact a registed builder or is there a test to sit for?I would assume there would be more to it.

Originally posted by watto

never let a nice garden stand in the way of making money.....the garden will grow back......bring in the bobcat....

Never let the forest stand in the way of a good freeway......the wilderness will grow back (and we can grow clones of those pesky animals that dont seem to like or even survive in their new townhouses/freeway etc etc....hehehe) ......bring on the cement jungle!!!!....... ;)


As I mentioned, to be eligible to be registered as a domestic builder, one must complete an approved course, plus demonstrate three years practical experience to the 'satisfaction of the Board'.

Then, of course, there is the question of insurance, which as a rough guide and as I understand it, means a builder working under contracts can only build to the value of their insurance each year, and the value of the insurance is based on the assets of the builder.

In other words, the insurance is there to protect the consumer, not the builder. The builder is responsible for ten years (yes, 10 years) for the structural work, insurance covers the consumer for 6 or 6.5. If the insurance pays, it has the right to recover the payout from the builder. If a claim comes in at eg the eight year mark, the builder has to deal with it alone.

This is why some builders encourage the owner to apply for the building permit, as then they only have to meet the 5/12 thousand dollars conditions.

This means that if the builder/carpenter etc does work worth more than $5,000 they have to be registered, and if more than $12,000 must provide insurance to the owner.

The permit holder (owner), if selling the property within 6 (6.5) years must provide insurance to their purchaser for the work for the balance of time when the property is sold.

So of course, if you are the owner, and have someone build eg a rumpus room, and you sell the house ten years later, then technically it doesn't matter who built the extension, as the time for insurance and claims has effluxed.

It's a bit of a legal morass, but once you've got your head around it it's OK.


hi again Kristine.
So on completion of the domestic builder unlimited course which interests me and having been a qual bricklayer for 14 years i would then be a registed builder,is that right?
I have no interest in contracting to do works for anyone else.Just units and renos for myself.
Also Kristine what does demonstrate 3 years practical exp to the satisfaction of the board actually mean?Show them my brickwork?

thanks Darren.
Originally posted by beech
hi again Kristine.
So on completion of the domestic builder unlimited course which interests me and having been a qual bricklayer for 14 years i would then be a registed builder,is that right?
I have no interest in contracting to do works for anyone else.Just units and renos for myself.
Also Kristine what does demonstrate 3 years practical exp to the satisfaction of the board actually mean?Show them my brickwork?

thanks Darren.

G'day Darren

Why not contact the Building Practioners Board directly, they will happily send you all the information by mail.

If you are already a Domestic Builder Limited, then perhaps all you need to do is to apply for an upgrade!

As I understand it, the Board will meet you on site or where-ever for the assessment. But obviously Darren, I'm no expert on this and certainly can't speak on behalf of the Board or anyone else.

Good luck with your enquiries