Becoming the owner builder of your own house is a great experience. While giving you the freedom to design and build what you want, it also gives great satisfaction as you do the work yourself and helps you in saving a considerable amount of money along the way. However, many people who dream of building sometimes take a step back thinking: ‘What if I don’t get an owner builder licence?’ or ‘What if they don’t let me?’
By ‘they’, we mean the people at the local building council. Complying with building codes can seem like a daunting task. However, if you consider it as a process, almost like the building of your dream house, you should be able to get through it in an easy manner. Doing your homework is necessary, particularly when you plan to build using alternative techniques and materials. Knowing what exactly you need to do and where to find the required information, will help you getting an owner builder licence and may even improve your house’s design.
Building codes maintain a minimum standard for safety and health, so when you decide to build your own house, you will have to prove that it meets those standards. The three phases of the main process are gathering information and making the initial plan, designing the house and submitting your plans for getting approval and permit and finally building the house, passing the inspections and getting the certificate of occupancy. You keep to keep in mind that building, zoning, some other regulations and as well as the conditions around the building site might vary greatly from one place to another. Building codes are likely to be less rigid as compared to those in the town or suburb areas, where population is denser and buildings are closer together.
Nowadays, most city, county and state governments put information regarding permitting processes, zoning laws and other requirements on their websites. They also answer common queries and provide information on how to get further help. Most building departments also give away handouts where they describe their processes, minimum requirements for plans and inspections, fees, guidelines that should be maintained for standard construction and checklists for other required approvals. Make sure to ask questions about requirements that are specific to owner builders. Some jurisdictions limit what work can be done by owner builders, therefore knowing what rules are there in the place where you intend to build is essential.
Another requirement is that you have to undertake an approved owner builder training course before applying for registration, if you want to become an owner builder. This has to be completed within the one year period ahead of the date of an application for registration. Also, there is a requirement for an owner builder to get their construction induction training by acquiring a White Card from an approved training provider. Albeit not a compulsory requirement, within the building act, you should carry all the relevant insurances if you are an owner builder. There are insurances available which covers the actual works, public liability, compensation of workers (if applicable) and materials in storage or transit. It is recommended to discuss your needs with your chosen insurance provider.