What are my responsibilities as an owner-builder?

If you are planning to undertake a construction project in South Australia, you may have considered doing so as an “owner-builder”. These are landowners who plan to build on their land and coordinate the construction themselves, mainly through engaging various trades directly without the input of a builder. Although this may have financial benefits, this role comes with some key responsibilities.

In this article, we will explore the main responsibilities of owner-builders under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA) (PDI Act), and the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 (SA) (BWC Act).

Responsibilities under the Planning, Development and Infrastructure Act 2016 (SA)

Some key responsibilities of owner-builders under the PDI Act include:

  • Obtaining development approval from the relevant authority (Council) before commencing work;
  • Notifying neighbours of an intention to perform building work that may affect neighbouring property;
  • Notifying the council at certain prescribed stages of the construction;
  • The requirement of a registered building work supervisor to ensure the work has been completed in accordance with a “statement of compliance” (being a document required by the PDI to certify when the building work has been carried out in accordance with the contract and development approval);
  • The requirement to ensure that a copy of a certificate of insurance in relation to domestic building work is lodged with the relevant authority before work can commence.

It is important to note that these obligations are not exclusive to owner-builders, but apply generally to builders undertaking building work in South Australia.

Responsibilities under the Building Work Contractors Act 1995 (SA)

The BWC Act sets out requirements that owner-builders should be aware of, including:

  • For domestic building work (including from trades) costing $12,000 or more, there must be a written contract in place, outlining the roles and responsibilities of the parties, completion dates and the method of payment;
  • The requirement of an indemnity insurance policy to be taken out for work costing $12,000 or more.

Final Comments

Acting as an owner-builder in South Australia comes with many of the same legislative responsibilities that builders have. If you are considering acting as an owner-builder, PGC Legal can advise you on your obligations.

If you have any questions, please contact Brenton Priestley, Partner, or Clairissa Hewitt, Senior Associate.

Published 29 March 2023

The above is general in nature and is not intended to, and does not, constitute professional advice.