Tips for Owner Builders


Starting out on a building project on your own as an Owner Builder can be an exciting, and sometimes daunting endeavour. There are many of benefits to going out on your own. The savings to be made can be considerable and in the end you have a building or structure you have helped to create. What could be more satisfying?

Being an owner builder also comes with risks as well as many rewards. Budget blow outs, building mistakes and unscrupulous trades people are just a few of the challenges that owner builders face. Making certain you are thoroughly prepared before you begin will help to ensure your build is successful, goes to plan and the end result is what you envisaged.

Helpful owner builder hints

Educate yourself about all aspects of the build, even if you are getting the work done by a tradie. Do your research. The more you know before you start the less surprises along the way. Make use of online resources, books (we found a useful e-book - The Owner Builder Guide) and ask industry professionals for advice and tips on their specialist area.

Have a really good idea of how you want the end product to look. Go into the details from the start, all the way down to the tiles, paint and fixtures.

Check with your states requirements as to which permits and building approvals are required. Each state differs as to the maximum value of the work which will require an owner builder permit. eg. Queensland the amount is $11,000 New South Wales is $5,000. Some states require you to take an owner builder course prior to issuing permits.


Budget as accurately as possible, a detailed building plan will help do this. A major budget miscalculation can stop or delay a project. There are online tools to help with construction budget calculations. Ensure you allow in your budget for unexpected costs, overspending or the possible need for re-doing work if construction mistakes are made.

It seems like common sense but still needs to be said, only work with licenced tradespeople. Most states have an online licence check procedure so you can assure that your tradies are who they say they are. Don't be tempted to cut corners and save money by employing anyone who is cheap but unlicenced and possibly uninsured. In the long run it could cost you much more.

Owner Builder Insurance

Get the right insurances from the start. Speak to an experienced insurance advisor about an owner builder insurance policy which will cover you and those working for you for any eventuality. Check that everyone coming onsite has their own current trade insurances.

Shop around for your supplies. Don't assume the large suppliers are always the cheapest or the best quality. Savings can be made by using building supply auctions, seconds outlets (for appliances, white goods, tiles, kitchens, etc) or companies such as Cash and Carry or Costco (nails, tiles, sinks, fittings, tools). Popular brands are often the easy option but if you invest a bit of time to shop around before buying you could find better quality products for less.

Constantly Review and organise

Constantly review your original plan and communicate well with your tradesmen and suppliers during the building process. If delays happen contact your team to avoid mix-ups or job timing clashes. Stay organised throughout the project, keep your schedule on a detailed calendar. There are many great calender or diary apps which can be used from your smartphone or tablet. Most of these apps can synchronise with your computer to give you, or any anyone working with you, instant access to timing, schedules and changes as they are made. Google calender has the ability to share aspects of your agenda with different people. This allows you to give access to carpenters for the section of the build they are needed for and plumbers access to the bits they need to know about and so on.

More Owner builder information

Use all the free information which is out there to be used. Your Council website and offices will give you access to people who can answer many local owner builder queries. Speak to tradies, industry professionals, product manufacturers for information specific to their area of expertise.

We have put together a list of the local govt sites in your state to access more state relevant info:

  • New South Wales -
  • Victoria -
  • Queensland -
  • South Australia -
  • Western Australia -
  • Northern Territory -
  • Tasmania -
  • ACT -

For all your owner builder insurance information and comprehensive cover contact the team at Tradesure on 1800 024 799 or complete our quote request today.