Owner Builders

Regulations for Owner Builders

Generally in all states, to become an owner-builder, you must first obtain owner-builder approval from the the State authority, and then a building permit from your local government.

When applying you must show that you have sufficient knowledge of the duties and responsibilities involved in being an owner-builder. This can be done by completing an owner-builder course, being registered or licensed as a building industry professional/tradesperson, or having other relevant building industry qualifications or experience. 

Owner Builder Book


The Today’s Owner Builder book is a guide that will provide you with an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of carrying out building work and the legislative requirements for residential construction work in Australia.  It will provide you with a tool that can be used to assist in the construction of your home so that the process runs smoothly, on schedule, within budget and complies with relevant building regulations.

The information in the guide will give you an insight into the process of constructing a residential house or an addition to an existing house from the application for approval stage to the completion of the project. You will gain the knowledge of how to prepare a cost estimate and a construction schedule along with some technical requirements of various construction methods and building regulation.  You will also gain an understanding of the sequence of events required to carry out the construction of a house from commencement to completion.

  • Focus on your legislative responsibilities as an owner builder.

  • Focus on the minimum building standards required.

  • Provide examples of how to apply the relevant building standards.

  • Provide examples of estimating work sheets and work schedules.

  • Teach you techniques on how to co-ordinate trades and deal with trade contractors.

  • Outline tips that will ensure your project is successfully completed on schedule and within your budget.

Hard Copy Book

Certification for Building Permits

In WA, a certificate of design compliance (CDC) is required in order to obtain a building permit from the permit authority to construct a building or incidental structure. The Building Act requires a CDC to be in an approved form and contain a statement by the building surveyor that the building will comply with each applicable building standard if the building is completed in accordance with the specified plans and specifications.

Today's Building Services Pty Ltd are registered as Level 1 Building Surveying Contractors and are able to assess and certify all sizes and Classes of Buildings. Our services for issuing a CDC include:

  • Providing advice on building regulation and standards at design stage. 

  • Review of any proposed Performance Solutions.

  • Assessment of plans and documentation in accordance with the requirements of the Building Act 2011, Building Regulations 2012 and the National Construction Code’s / Building Code of Australia Volume Two (BCA) “Acceptable Construction" provisions and any alternative solutions.

  • Certification of all final plans, specifications and details and issue of Certificates of Design Compliance (CDC) for submission to the Permit Authority for issue of Building Permits.

Certification for Un-authorised work

In general a person must not carry out building work without a building permit where one is required. However the Building Act allows a person to make an application to the relevant permit authority to approve unauthorised building work in relation to a building and/or incidental structure. This retrospective approval process may assist those who are buying or selling a property that has an unauthorised structure on it.

Even though a person may seek retrospective approval for unauthorised building work, this does not remove the offence and a local government may still take legal action under the Building Act to ensure that the unauthorised building work is approved or removed.

Building in bushfire prone areas

There are numerous areas throughout Australia that are subject to, or likely to be subject to, bush-fire attack.  Building Codes (BCA) and standards require residential houses and associated out buildings to be designed to provide resistance to a bush-fire attack if constructed in a designated bush-fire prone area.  This requirement is primarily to reduce the risk of danger to life and the loss of the building.

The BCA defines a designated bush-fire prone area to mean, land which has been designated under a power in legislation as being subject, or likely to be subject, to bush-fires.  This is usually done through town planning schemes.  However, not all bush land areas are designated as being bush-fire prone.

WA bushfire prone areas

In April 2016 the WA government introduced new regulations that require all new homes or extensive additions to existing homes to comply with the bushfire standards if located in a designated bush-fire prone area. The Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) have developed a bush-fire area map of WA that has been adopted under the new regulations.

If you are building in WA you should first check the DFES bush-fire map to determine if you are in a designated bush-fire prone area. If you are in a bush-fire area, then you will need to have your property assessed by a registered assessor who can determine the Bush-fire Attack Level (BAL) rating for your property.  more information about the new bush-fire regulations and BAL ratings can be obtained from the WA building Commission website http://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/building-commission.

If you intend on building in a bush land areas in other states, you should check with your local government before designing your house to find out whether the area has been designated as a bush-fire prone area.  If it is not a designated bush-fire prone area, then compliance with the bush-fire construction requirements of the BCA is not mandatory.

Building Advice

Today’s Building Services Pty Ltd provides Training and advice to assist owner builders to understand sometimes complex building regulation and to provide the facts about various myths in the building industry.

Whilst every endeavour is made to ensure that this advice is correct, the information is intended to be of general guidance only and should not be acted on without considering (and if appropriate) taking legal advice with due regard to your own particular circumstances.  We believe that if an owner wishes to carry out building work, an understanding of the requirements of building codes and standards should first be obtained.  There are numerous training courses available for owner builders, however, care should be taken that the course to be undertaken is relevant for the State you are building in as building regulation can differ state by state.

Sustainability of your home

Sustainability is an important factor in any project, whether it be building a new home or renovating an existing home. Looking at the overall economic, environmental and personal or social effects of the materials and appliances you choose is fundamental to the annual energy consumption of your project.


The NCC requires minimum standards for energy efficiency and the intent is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by ensuring building are designed and contructed so that heating and cooling of the internal space of the building is reduced.  While the Today’s Owner Builder guide and the Today’s Owner Builder course contains information about designing your building to meet the minimum energy efficiency requirements of the NCC, there is much more you can do to ensure that your project is energy and water efficient and is as ‘green’ as possible.

For example, using high star rated energy and water efficient appliances and fittings will help to reduce its impact on the environment. However this will inevitably involve trade-offs between what you would like, can afford, or feel is environmentally responsible.

There are many sources of information about building design and what can be done to make a building sustainable. The amount of information can be quite overwhelming, so here are some effective publications and websites from ‘Your Home’ which is a Commonwealth Government initiative that consists of brochures and a website that are aimed at helping you through the building process.





WA regulations for additions and alterations to existing dwellings

If you are adding to or altering an existing home, the WA Government have developed a protocol for assessing the energy efficiency of the house which is based on an averaging system. The NCC energy efficiency requirements are not retrospective, therefore there are no regulation that require upgrading of existing buildings.

However, the NCC requirements are applicable to any new parts of the house. Under the protocol an energy assessor can calculate what level of insulation etc you require for any new or altered parts of the house to acheive compliance. Therefore, if you are proposing to carry out additions or alterations to your existing house in WA, it is recommended that you employ the services of an experienced energy assessor.

There maybe similar concessions available in other States, so it is a good idea to check you local State regulations or a qualified building surveyor prior to submitting your plans for assessment.


Check Lists and Forms

The following forms and check sheets have been developed to assist the Owner Builder in the submission of applications for approvals and permits, and to help in preparing estimates and construction schedules.

Other Information

Information on the following websites may assist the Owner Builder.


Australian Building Codes Board

Standards Australia

SIA global (purchasing Australian Standards)

Association of Building Sustainability Assessors

The Owner Builder Magazine

State Governments