Q : We have an old home that’s had several additions over the years. Is it possible to renovate it ourselves to obtain a more cohesive style?

A : Doing-it-yourself is an Australian tradition that’s alive and well, despite the ever-increasing complexity of the home design and construction process.

Despite its trials and tribulations (not to mention the legal obligations incurred) many of our clients give owner-building serious consideration, particularly if they have the time and the expertise necessary to manage a construction project.

The conventional approach to home building and renovation sees a contract established between the owner and a registered builder. Under the terms of the contract the builder is responsible for scheduling and supervising the work, sourcing and managing sub-contractors and arranging the purchase and supply of materials. Perhaps most importantly, a registered builder is required by Victorian law to warrant the structure of a building for a period of 6 years from the completion of the work.

As far as the law is concerned, owner-builders are deemed to be builders of they take on the role of a head contractor.  Owner-built homes or renovations valued at more than $12,000 cannot be sold within 6 years of completion without an insurance policy guarantees the following:

  • That all work was carried out in a proper and workmanlike manner
  • That all materials used were of good quality and suitable for the purpose
  • That all work was carried out in accordance with the applicable laws and regulations

Before issuing a policy insurers require the building to be thoroughly inspected by an accredited inspector and given a clean bill of health, including the identification of any second-hand materials used in the work. Any apparent defects are noted on the basis that the insurance policy only covers defects arising after the inspection.

Clearly anyone taking on the challenge of owner-building needs the ability to not only manage the construction process but to rigorously control the quality of materials and workmanship. There are courses available to prospective owner-builders, there are management systems that can provide step-by-step assistance and there are savings to be made if you know what you’re doing.

As with most areas of home buying, building and renovating, however, it’s important to understand the process before you make your decisions.

If in doubt, ask us.