July 19th, 2020 in

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How to get Owner Builder permit in Australia: A State-wise Guide

 

Owner builder is the most sought out way for DIY enthusiasts. You can save up to 30% if you choose to play a major role in building or renovating your existing home. It not only saves money; you get an opportunity to get creative with your home.

As interesting it sounds, so confusing it was for myself to find the right resource on ‘how to become an owner builder?’. If you haven’t known, the process and the eligibility and the options vary with state.

Then is when I thought enough roaming around the internet to find the exact procedure. I have put together the complete information set you need to know to become an owner builder in Australia.

 

 

Who is an owner builder?

An owner builder is someone managing and/or doing a part of the construction process taking place in the land they own or lease. In general, Owner builder will hold the place of general contractor for the building construction.

The person is responsible or sub-contracting, managing and supervising the whole process for which the owner builder license is granted. He/She can also do construction work that does not require specific licensing like plumbing and electrical work.

Simply said it’s the owner who is licensed to build in his own premises after going through certain formalities which we will see in a bit.

But it is nowhere close to a builder’s license (except in the state of South Australia). An owner building permit is only applicable to the land mentioned in the application. Anything beyond that requires a new license and development approval from the local commission.

 

Do you need an owner builder license?

You need not go through the procedure of acquiring an owner builder license to painting your home. Some work like painting the tiles does not require any license or approval. If you are doing some serious work like taking down a wall you need to be aware of the license and permits.

First and foremost is the reasonable market cost threshold (labour + materials). Every state has its own threshold ranging from $10,000 to $20,000. Only projects that are evaluated higher than the threshold value require a license.

Development approval is another important factor influencing the need for the own-build license. If your reasonable market cost is still below the threshold value, but your work requires development approval, you must apply for the license.

Then there are other factors like property type (commercial/residential), ownership and type of building (single dwelling, multiple, etc) that contribute to the requirements of owner builder consent.

These factors are different across the states which is why we have developed a state-wise guide on owner builder license application.

 

house planning

Why should I become an owner builder?

The most common reason people choose to build their own houses or renovate is because of the potential for saving money. You replace the position of a general contractor with a pay scale of $30 to $50 an hour by carrying out owner builder construction.

Here are the benefits of owner building,

  • Savings in term of money is the obvious benefit of owner building
  • You get complete control over the creative process. Building your home by yourself means creative control in every aspect.
  • Making use of friends and family and hiring the sub-contractors that best suit your needs.
  • Pride of doing it by yourself. For the DIY nerds, the self-satisfaction that they get by doing their stuff is priceless.

Benefits are not the only thing you need to consider before submitting the owner builder application form. There are risks too, big ones if you are not trained enough. And it requires a lot of time, sometimes equivalent to having a full-time job. So, evaluate homeowner building risks vs benefits and make sure if it really suits you before moving forward.

 

 

Owner builder construction site

How long does it take to acquire the owner builder license in Australia?

The owner builder certification is governed by local bodies of respective states and territories in Australia. The eligibility and application process varies slightly.

The expected timeline of acquiring the owner builder license from the date of applying is 4 weeks in most states. But there are other requirements like Development Approval, Certificate of Title, Safework White Card that you need to submit along with the application form.

Everything other than Development approval can be arranged within a weeks’ time in my experience. Development Approval and other legal clearances need to be addressed first either by yourself or with the help of building supervisor.

 

Steps to acquire Australian owner builder permit:

Since managed by state governments the process of getting an owner builder permit is not the same across the country. The differences are not drastic but are worth noting if you are looking to do owner builder construction.

Some allow construction pools, while in some states you can’t demolish under an owner builder contract. Let us see everything about owner builder licensing in every state, but before that, let’s see the basic steps in getting your owner builder consent.

 

  • Find if you can really handle owner building. There are a lot of responsibilities and benefits that come with building your own home but not without risks. So, see if you are the right fit before proceeding.
  • Make sure you meet all the eligibility criteria
  • Older than 18 years of age
  • Ownership of land the construction/renovation is intended to happen. Provide lease agreement for more than 3 years if you’re a lease.
  • The house to be constructed/renovated must be a single dwelling. Dual occupancy is permitted in special cases in some states.
  • Once you are sure about becoming an owner builder, get your building plan ready, you will need an Architect or a draftsperson to design the plan. You can also hire a building practitioner or supervisor to help you through the process of planning and knowing the estimated value of construction work.
  • Apply for Development approval, if your state requires a DA for the type of construction you intend to do.
  • Apply and get your construction induction card (work safety white card). You might require to attend certain induction program to be eligible for this.
  • Take up the owner builder course accredited by your state construction board that issues the owner builder permit. Clear the assessment which is most often part of the application process.

 

Note: Every state has a different syllabus for owner builder courses. So, make sure you are attending the one that is valid in your state. Though it is mostly about work safety and how and what to do as a subcontractor, the source of the course matters for validation. If you are looking for some advanced owner builder course, get on the one-to-one training program. Book your free trial session here.
  • Get your documents ready – DA, search statement, certificate of title, approval from water and sanitation board if required.
  • Submit your application for owner builder permit to the corresponding board (QBCC, CBOS, VBA, etc.)
  • You will be contacted if the application requires any changes. If everything goes well you must get your owner builder license within 4 weeks of application submission.
  • Set-up display board notifying it is an owner builder project with the license number. Some states do not require this.
  • Once the building work is complete, some states require a permit before the house can be inhabited.

 

house improvement

State by state owner builder requirement and application process:

 

New south wales owner builder license

You need to attend the white card course in person and do an owner builder course accredited by the NSW Fair Trading and to get an owner builder permit in NSW. New South Wales is one of the few states that allow people other than individual owners to take up owner building. But does not allow any commercial buildings to be constructed under the same.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Must have completed 18 years of age when submitting the application.
  • Estimated value of labour and material exceeding $10,000 (including GST).
  • The intended construction project must be a residential property.
  • Development consent from the local council.
  • Ownership of property: you must be the owner or joint owner of the land, (or) a shareholder in the company that owns the land (or) a lease of more than 3 years
  • In case of renovation or extension on an existing building, it must be single dwelling or dual occupancy (special cases). Apartments and multi-dwelling strata complexes are not eligible.
  • You intend to live in the property after then construction.
  • Complete owner builder course specific to NSW if the cost estimation is above $20,000.
  • A current construction induction card

Click on this link to know your eligibility and to find the right application form to submit for owner builder permit NSW

 

Required documents

  • Any 3 active Australian proof of identity documents (Passport, driving license, Medicare card, etc).
  • Copy of evidence of ownership document or registered long-term lease agreement with land and property information (council rates or water rates notice, Certificate of Title or Settlement Notice, ASIC company extract, Lease document)
  • Estimated cost of development
  • Copy of development consent (development approval (DA) or complying development certificate (CDC) approval from a certifying authority (council or private certifier))
  • Valid general construction induction training card issued within the last two years (safework white card)
  • NSW owner-builder course certificate (if the work value is over $20,000)

 

Application for owner builder permit NSW

Create an My Service NSW Account and take the eligibility test which will give you the right application form for you to fill in.

Application fee:                $183 + 70 (processing fee)

Replacement fee:            $48 + 48 (processing fee)

 

Before build

The owner builder cannot proceed with the construction unless a Construction Approval is issued by the local council or certifier.

 

Limitations

  • Owner builder license in NSW region is restricted to only one property in five years. The rule applies to joint owners who are listed in the application even if they do not have a building license to their name.
  • You can do any work that is not covered under DA or CDC that is submitted with the owner license permit application.
  • The owner builder cannot perform specialist work unless you hold the specific trade license (electrical, gas fitting, plumbing, air-conditioning, etc)
  • Selling the house that is built or renovated under an owner builder permit requires the sale contract to mention the work done under the owner builder. If the house is to sold within 7.5 years of issuing the owner builder permit in NSW.
  • It is required to have owner builder warranty insurance under the Home building act 1989 If the work done exceeds $20,000.

 

Insurances required

  • Workers compensation insurance – if the contractor is classified as a worker (depending on arrangements)
  • Contract works insurance – insurance that the subcontractors should have.
  • Public liability insurance (recommended)
  • Owner builder home warranty insurance (if the value exceeds $20,000 and if sold within 7.5 years)

 

 

 

Victoria owner builders license

Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has an assessment of their own that you need to get through to become an owner builder in Victoria. Being a beneficiary of the trust or director of a company that owns the land where the construction is planned are also eligible to apply for VBA owner builder.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • You must be the owner of the land or director of the company that owns the land or beneficiary of the trust that owns the land.
  • Building work planned is a single dwelling residence or ancillary to it.
  • The value of building project (labour + material) is over $16,000.
  • You reside or intend to reside in the construction land.
  • You are not in real estate business and not entered into a contract to sell owner build home.
  • Have not been a VBA owner builder in the past 5 years.
  • You have completed VBA owner builder eLearning assessment (Victoria owner builder course completion)
  • Completed construction induction training and hold an active WorkSafe Victoria white card, if your property will become workplace under Victorian OHS law. (If you employ sub-contractors to work for you)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity – photo, driving license or passport
  • Proof of ownership – a Registered Search Statement (RSS) or Certificate of title. In case of joint ownership or owned by a company the co-owners or the director of the company needs to give written consent to the person applying for the owner builder license dated not less than 28 days of filing application
  • A site plan may be required in some cases like building a detached studio, conversion of a commercial building into a dwelling.
  • Copy of white card
  • Proof of clearing the VBA owner builder course assessment

 

 

Application

Register as a user on VBA 360 portal. Log in and apply for owner builder Victoria.

Fees: $102.20

 

After build

  • The Victoria owner builder must notify the VBA if the cost of construction has exceeded the estimated value towards the end of construction.
  • You need to get a work completion certificate, occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection.

 

Limitations

Owner builder permit does not allow carrying out demolition, sub-floor work or home relocation (as it involves re-stumping and re-blocking)

Only one owner builder permit is allowed based on a land every 5 years. The restrictions may be lifted in special cases if the applicant is proven to go through economic hardship.

Selling the owner built home, not 6.5 years old from the date of issue of an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection requires Domestic building Insurance. You also need a defect inspection report signed by a building surveyor, building inspector or engineer which is not more than 6 months old.

 

Insurance

Domestic building insurance, if the owner builder is selling the house 6.5 years from the occupancy permit issue date. This needs to be purchased before entering into a contract to sell and can be cancelled if you do not sell the house.

 

 

Australian Capital territory owner builder license

Becoming an ACT owner builder is one of the straight forward processes. You need to complete the Owner builder course and do Construction induction program and submit every necessary document including the Building approval. ACT does not force you with any insurance throughout the owner building process.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • The planned building work must fall under Class 1, 2 or 10a building classification of the Australian building code.
  • You must hold and owner builder course certificate or complete and owner builder examination recognized by the construction occupations registrar which is not older than 5 years. Or the applicant holds a Class A, B or C Builder License or an interstate equivalent.
  • Must own or lease the land where the construction is intended to happen.
  • Building Approval (similar to DA) from a private certifier.
  • Do training for construction induction card (white card).
  • Complete asbestos awareness training.

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity of the applicant.
  • Proof of ownership or lease.
  • Building Approval certificate copy.
  • Certificate copy of Owner builder course ACT.
  • Copy of Safework White Card and
  • Copy of Asbestos awareness training if required.

 

ACT Owner Builder Application

 

 

Fees

Class 1 & 2 –        $245 (online), $263 (Via post or in person)

Class 10a –           $183 (online), $192 (Via post or in person)

 

Limitations

An ACT owner builder is not deemed to carry out specialist building work like swimming pool and demolition.

Only one owner builder license is allowed for a person in a 5-year period.

 

Insurance required

Owner builders do not require residential building insurance (owner builder home warranty insurance) but require other insurance like workers’ compensation insurance.

Public liability insurance is not a must but recommended.

 

Queensland Owner Builder License

The sunny state of Australia allows for the construction of a farm building up to a worth of $27,500 as a QLD owner builder. That is the highest value commercial building that you can build with an Owner builder license in the whole of Australia. Applying for an owner builder permit in QLD, you need not require a White Card. Instead, you have to take up Asbestos awareness course along with the usual Owner builder course.

Projects coming under Schedule 7 of the Planning regulation act of 2017 do not require owner builder permit in Queensland.

 

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Estimated construction value (labour + material) of $11,000 or above.
  • Completion of QLD owner builder course.
  • Completion of asbestos awareness course from a registered trainer if the intended work involves asbestos or if the intended home to renovate is built before 1990.
  • Farm buildings are permitted if the value is less than $27,500 and the owner can personally do that work. (otherwise commercial buildings including farm buildings are not permitted under owner building)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of ownership-
    • If you are the owner, original or copy of Title search or Registration Confirmation Statement submitted or directly mailed from Titles office that is not older than 30 days.
    • If you are a lease occupier, land owner’s detail, proof of land ownership (not older than 30 days), lease agreement and a letter of consent from the owner.
    • In case of the land owned by a company, proof of company directors from an ASIC Historical Company Extract Provider. All company directors need to be included in the application form.
  • Proof of completed owner builder license course or exemption approval if any.
  • Certificate of completion of the asbestos awareness program, if required.
  • Details of previous owner builder permit, if any.

 

Queensland Owner Builder License Application:

Fees: $420.80

 

During work

  • A person with an Owner builder license in QLD is exempted of the Qleave levy (0.475% of the total cost of work) that you need to pay otherwise.
  • Responsible for carrying out safe work practices (similar to work safe white card in other states)
  • Display of signboard indicating that the site is built under an owner builder permit. The signboard must contain your Owner builder permit number in letters 50mm or high printed on a weatherproof material not less than half square metre so that it is clearly visible from the street.
  • Disputes can be solved via Queensland’s official dispute resolution centre

 

Limitations

  • If any of the applicants listed in the application has got their owner builder permit cancelled by QBCC within the 3-year period preceding the application filing, you can’t get an owner builder permit in QLD.
  • Only one Owner builder license is permitted in a period of 6 years unless until exceptions like severe illness or financial difficulty is reported.
  • Work done under the owner builder permit in Queensland cannot be covered using Home warranty insurance which protects against incomplete or defective work.
  • Fire construct work above $1,100 requires licensed professionals to do the work.

 

Insurance required

None

 

 

Tasmania Owner Builder License

Consumer, Building and Occupation Services board (CBOS) of Tasmania has got a lot of relaxations for their owner builder. So, before putting in your effort to apply for the owner builder permit in Tasmania make sure if it is really required.

Though having some of the best relaxations, CBOS has got a lot of procedures to be done at every stage if you happen to get the owner builder license.

 

Construction work that does not require owner builder consent in Tasmania:

  • Building farm sheds under 200 m2 (class 7b)
  • Perform repair or maintenance work using similar materials as present ones.
  • Shed, garage or carport up to 18m2, or up to 36m2 if prefabricated.
  • Porch or veranda up to 9m2
  • Deck up to 1m high
  • Temporary swimming pool up to 9m2 with a child safety fence

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Single person owned, contracted to be bought and joint ownership properties are only eligible for owner building in Tasmania. (company and trust owned properties are not allowed)
  • Intend to live in the space after the construction is completed.
  • The building work comes under class 1a, 8, 10a or 10b.
  • Completion of Tasmanian owner builder responsibility course except for class 1a buildings.
  • Completion of construction induction card course. (safework white card)
  • Must have engaged a licensed building surveyor regarding the work to be performed.

 

Required Documents

  • Certified building plans from a licensed building surveyor.
  • Certificate of title with every person in it completing the application.
  • Proof of completion of owner builder responsibilities courses, if required, not less than a year old.
  • Copy of construction induction white card.
  • Public construction liability insurance not lesser than 5 million dollars.

 

Tasmania Owner Builder License Application

 

Fees

Owner builder permit fee – Class 1a                                          $388.80

Owner builder permit fee – Class 10a, 10b and 8                 $194.40

Replacement card fee                                                                    $40.50

 

After approval of owner builder permit Tasmania

Once the letter of confirmation is issued with the Tasmania owner builder permit number, the building surveyor you have engaged will issue a Certificate of Likely compliance.

As an owner builder, you are required to forward the two certificates (owner builder certificate and certificate of likely compliance) along with the design documents of the construction to your local council to apply for building, plumbing and planning permit (as per your requirements).

Once the building permit is approved you need to submit ‘Start work’ notification and authorization form (form 39) to your building surveyor before starting work.

 

After construction work completion

Owner builder will send an application to the building surveyor for occupancy permit which will be issued after the surveyor assesses the works completed. A copy of the occupancy permit is to be sent to the local council.

 

Limitations

  • Unlike other states, you are allowed two 1a owner building projects in 10 years.
  • Companies, trusts cannot apply for an Owner Builder license in Tasmania.

 

Insurance required

Single insurance that covers personal and property damage caused by the work done by the owner builder. It also includes construction liability cover for workers and the public valued 5 million or above. The owner builder public construction liability insurance is to be purchased before the commencement of work and should be valid till the issue of the certificate of completion.

 

Western Australia Owner Builder License

If you are looking out for upgrading your residence in Western Australia, you are luckiest. WA is the only state that allows construction and renovation on a commercial building to an extent under an owner builder permit. Other than that, the procedure to become an owner builder in WA is usual.

 

Types of building work permitted under Owner builder license WA

  • Renovate or extend an existing single dwelling.
  • Construct a detached dwelling (including a granny flat).
  • Build a non-habitable building or ancillaries to a dwelling (private garage, carport, shed, etc).
  • Construct, extend or alterations to small commercial building restricted to two-storey, floor space of 500 m2 that is not a detached house, class 10 building or farm building.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • You must either be the owner of the land, in a contract to buy or be a lease occupier with written consent to proceed with construction work.
  • Intend to occupy once the building work is completed.
  • Estimated building value (labour + material) of $20,000 or above.
  • Complete owner builder course.
  • You are not granted owner builder permit in WA in the past 6 years. (Special cases: if the owner builder application was previously refused/cancelled (or) if you are applying for owner building the same building that you were granted permission in the last 6 years)

 

Required Documents

  • Proof of identity
  • Proof of ownership – certificate of title, contract to buy or lease agreement with written consent from the landowner.
  • Owner builder course WA completion certificate (not required if you are a building practitioner).
  • Site plan document that shows site detail, floor and elevation plans.

 

Western Australia Owner Builder License Application

 

 

Fees

residential building                          $174.00

Industrial/commercial building   $467.00

 

After approval of owner builder permit WA

You have to apply for building permit from your local building authority once the Owner builder permit WA is issued. The owner builder approval will expire, if you fail to get a building permit within 6 months or the building permit is rejected.

 

During build

A signboard of reasonable size that is readable from outside the site that contains your name, telephone number and owner builder approval number.

 

Limitations

  • Only one owner builder license for a person in six-year unless special conditions are met. (approval denied during the last attempt or applying for the same land as the last time.)
  • Owner-builder approvals can only be issued to individuals and not to companies or trusts.
  • Sale of the owner-built house within 7 years from the issue of owner builder permit requires home indemnity insurance.

 

Insurance required

Provide home indemnity insurance to the purchaser if selling the house within 7 years of issuing builder permit under owner builder. As a seller, you are liable for the faults caused by owner building even after the sale. (not required for “associated work” like pergola, fence or swimming pool)

 

 

South Australia Owner Builder License

The procedure to become an owner builder in South Australia is quite different compared to other states. The good news is you don’t need to take an owner builder course or attend construction induction program.

Instead, you need to go through the same licensing process as building practitioners. Equipping yourself as a licensed builder is a lot of work and you end up taking a course even if it isn’t a necessity. This is why South Australia has the lowest owner builders of all Australian states.

Note: There is not enough information on the process to acquire a south Australian owner builder license. All we have got is the owner builder responsibilities handbook.

 

Requirement

Same requirements as licensed builders (as in development act of 1993 and Development regulation of 2008)

  • Obtain development approval.
  • Home Indemnity insurance, if the estimated value is over 12,000.
  • Notify adjoining property owners of the intended construction work that may affect them.
  • Notify local council at various stage of work.
  • Pay Construction Industry Training Levy of 0.25%, if the estimated value exceeds 15,000.
  • Sign contracts for buildings cost over 12,000.
  • Engage a registered building supervisor or private certifier to oversee the building process right from the start to completion.

 

Limitations

Having to get through the complex process of getting your permit is itself a limitation when it comes to becoming an owner builder in SA. Though you will save money here and there as an owner builder, make sure you are capable of clearing the assessment before you start.

 

Insurance required

Sub-contractors need to have Indemnity insurance for all domestic work valued over $12,000 to cover non-completion, failure to rectify faults and or contractor dies, disappears or declared bankrupt. If you have finalized on contractors the insurance documents must be submitted for assessment when lodging the owner builder application, if not the insurance must be submitted to the council before the start of particular contractor’s work.

 

Northern Territory Owner Builder License

Becoming an Owner Builder in NT is a fairly easy process. You do not need to attend an owner builder course or get a Worksafe white card. You just need to go through the Northern Territory owner builder manual and declare it completed in the application along with the usual documents for proof of land ownership.

 

Building types permitted under owner builder license

  • Class 1a – Single dwelling or detached house
  • Class 10 – Ancillary to 1a, attached to and built at the same time (garage, carport or shed)
  • A retaining wall that is unattached to class 1a or 2 building.
  • Extensions of any of the above.

 

Eligibility criteria

  • Building type 1a, 10, an extension of it or a retaining wall.
  • Construction value over $12,000 (material + labour)
  • Only individual property owners are eligible – no company or trust.
  • Compliance with building control certification
  • Residential building insurance before the start of work
  • Declare you have read the Northern territory owner builder manual

Note: You do not need the owner builder permit if you are registered as a building contractor.

 

Required Documents

  • All individuals’ names on the property title must be included on the application.
  • Complete and sign declaration that comes with Northern Territory owner builder manual.
  • Search title for property not older than 28 days.

 

 

Northern Territory Owner Builder Application

Usually takes around 6 weeks to get the owner builder certificate in NT.

Fees: $278

 

Before build

The obtained Owner builder permit needs to be submitted to a registered building certifier to apply for building permit.

 

After build

Legally-binding declaration within 14 days of completion of construction. Send a copy to building certifier to enable the issue of occupancy permit.

Limitations

  • Only one owner builder certificate every 6 years.
  • Valid for 3 years. Can be renewed for another 3 years.
  • You need to rectify defective work for up to 6 years if you sell the property.

 

Insurance required

Residential building insurance in the form of Fidelity certificate is required when applying for building permit. The same covers future owners of the building for the period of 6 years (if the owner builder happens to sell the home within 6 years from building permit approval).

 

Conclusion

Owner building is not a difficult process for anyone willing to save money. You just need to prepare yourself with appropriate courses and be available with plenty of time to make sure the renovation or construction process you intend to do is done properly.

Ideally, it is for those willing to inhabit the property after construction. If you are planning to sell anytime soon, owner building is not worth the time and extra money that you need to pay in the form of indemnity insurance before selling.

You can use this government search portal to find any documents, forms, regulations in Australia.

If you have any doubts regarding the owner builder permit or want a complete training throughout the process, check out my one-to-one live training sessions.


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March 27th, 2020 in

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Featured Renovator – Becky Marshall from “Flipping The Flip”.

Today we are catching up with featured renovator Becky Marshall. Becky shares her renovation and home improvement adventures over on her blog Flipping the Flip.

I have been following Becky’s adventures for a while now, and apart from being jealous about how often she posts her blogs (something I suck at), I also admire her give it a go attitude.

Becky has tackled all kinds of projects herself such as kitchen modifications, painting projects, electrical modifications, shelving, pocket door installations and much, much more (some pic’s below). If you need some DIY inspiration I suggest checking out Becky’s blog.

I thought I would ask Becky a few questions about her renovation journey so that she can share her story with us.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself and your renovation project “Flipping the Flip”.

Long story short, my first career was theatre in Chicago for many many years as a prop master and scenic designer. Eventually I went back to graduate school and earned an M.F.A. in Interior Architecture. Recently I’ve been working in the television and film industry as a set designer which has included stints at Chicago Fire, Sirens, Jupiter Ascending, and most recently a pilot episode, The Exorcist.

Flipping the Flip came about as an upshot of my various careers making and designing things melding with the latest target of my attention, the house my husband and I bought from a flipper.  That flipper, it turns out, made many a questionable choice and his workmanship left a lot to be desired. The stories of all the work I was doing began piling up in my head so I decided to start a blog with the hope that others could learn from my adventures.

Finn inspecting the renovations.

 

How long have you been renovating your house, and was it always your plan to make the modifications to it?

We bought this house in June 2013 and the pace of working on it, the list of projects, has ramped up over time. We had always planned to remove some trim and repaint every room. Things mushroomed after we moved in and discovered all the things the house flipper had done, or didn’t do, or should have done. Some of his decorating choices and “fixes” were so bad no human should be subjected to them so it became my mission to undo, fix, and improve just about everything he had done.

A photo of Becky's renovated dining room

 

What inspired you to get on the tools and have a go at tackling some of your own projects around the house?

I’ve always been a handy person, a designer type, and a power tool lover so it was a natural progression. It began with the repainting initially, getting up close and personal with the house, seeing all that was done or not done. As I was painting I’d think, well, I best fix that while I’m here. Things rapidly eroded from a “hey, wouldn’t it be nice if…,” to becoming a “I bet I could do that if I tried…” thing. Part of it stems from the desire to be self-sufficient, to learn things and be able to take care of them myself, and part of it comes from the desire to be budget-minded with such a lengthy list.

Becky's renovated kitchen splash back with tiles and grout.

 

If you had to pick one thing in relation to your renovation that you are proud of what would that be?

Boy, that’s tough. As I move from project to project and I see things taking shape around the house, it’s hard to pick just one. I don’t mean to sound boastful; in a simple comparison of the house as-bought to how things are to date, the difference is definite and vast. If pressed though, my latest one, a pocket door to our master bathroom, is the biggest project I have ever undertaken and probably the one I’m most proud of lately.

Becky's custom install of a pocket door.

 

Have you found any of your remodelling tasks stressful, if so how do you go about problem-solving some of these tasks?

Oh my gosh yes. Yes! I tend to un-smartly plow head-first into projects, so I need to first slow myself down. If it’s larger like painting our kitchen cabinets or installing wallpaper or the pocket door, I take time to plan and write out all the steps, how I want to accomplish each task, and how I want the end result to be before even lifting a finger. I find that helps keep the stress tamped as I’m then able to take the project one single step at a time, one small goal at a time thereby feeling less overwhelmed. In the case of the pocket door, I ended up taking several days to plan, prep, do math, write down every single step in order, even draw it out on the computer. That was my most stressful project to date and I found I needed to really parse it down to finest detail.

Pantry Pallet Wood Floor Project

 

If there was one piece of advice that you could give someone about to start on their own DIY renovation journey what would that be?

Don’t be afraid. Ok, be a little afraid as that’s a healthy reminder to be careful and take your time but do not be afraid to try something. Be smart and know your limits but fear of trying something new is squashed by the rush of accomplishment. The worst that can happen is you make a mistake but I think mistakes are not mistakes; they are a golden opportunity to learn and try again.

A Photo of Becky's library renovation

 

Thanks for taking the time to share your story with us Becky, and we look forward to following along with the rest of your DIY renovation journey as it unfolds.

Are you hands on like Becky when it comes to getting things done? If so tell us about it in the comments section below, we would love to hear about it.

Thanks Guys, take care.

Cheers,

James Mason

 


 

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June 12th, 2020 in

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Cost to renovate a house: Interior, Exterior and Room wise split-up

The cost to renovate your house can range from $20,000 to $300,000 or even more if you are willing to burn cash to ready your home.

Don’t panic the 6 figure, your renovation project might not require that big a budget. In fact, most renovation projects in Australia costs around $100,000 for a 3-bedroom house.

So here is a complete guide to finding the budget for your dream home. If you don’t have a renovation idea in mind, it is still advisable to know the basics first and then find a design that fits in the budget.

house fund

Renovation cost per square meter

The renovation cost per square meter will give you an approximated figure on how much you will be spending on your house.

According to industry data, the average cost to renovate a house is between $2,000 to $2,500 per square meter here in Australia. In my experience renovating custom projects, the price can go up to $4,000.

How do I get to this number? Well, I have taken all the financial data from every house I have renovated over the last 20 years and the average from all of my projects is closer to $3,000.

That takes into consideration that most of my renovations were custom designs by architects and usually involved putting a second story on a single-story home and fully refurbishing the existing dwelling.

You can get project home builders that pump out the same design over and over for as low as $1,500 per meter square. But if you are on this site you are most probably not looking for that option.

Now, is calculating the cost per square meter the best way to estimate what your renovation project will cost you? In my opinion the answer is NO!

So, how else to estimate the budget by yourself.

Cost Calculators? Yes, they can be helpful to an extent. But most of them generalize the amount and do not provide options to select every varying factor.

Or you can handpick the elements and rooms to be renovated from the list below and nail the budget.

 

complete bathroom renovation project

Interior renovation: Room wise split-up

Do you know the kitchen and bathroom are the most renovated rooms in the house? Not only it has the most potential to be damaged and look outdated over time, it is the most valued areas home buyers look into as part of home evaluation. They are also the most difficult rooms to renovate that requires many different tradesmen.

Kitchen renovation cost: $10,000 to $45,000

This is will factor in the costs of countertops, kitchen appliances, cabinets, and the labour involved in the relocation/re-laying of pipes and electric line.

Bathroom renovation cost: $10,000 to $40,000

The average bathroom renovation expense is around $30,000 for a modern bathroom with bath. Though there isn’t much to buy new, the tiling across the wall and floor, resurfacing the bathtub and many other things bloat the expenses.

Living room renovation cost: $10,000 to $15,000

The most viewed room of any home. Though there isn’t much except furniture, the expenses are directed towards interior design and décor to give a good impression.

Bedroom renovation cost: $2,000 to 25,000

You can do just the paint and flooring for $2,000 or go full on to get a fresh look for $25,000. The price can go up to $35,000 for en-suite bedroom.

Laundry and wash area renovation cost: $15,000 to 20,000

There is not much to choose in this small portion of the house. You can do a luxury laundry renovation for $2,000 more than regular.

 

 

 

Exterior renovation:

Exterior renovation and maintenance is something not many touch unless they are planning to sell the house. But it shouldn’t be the case. You must take care of the exterior paint and garden from time to time.

Exterior painting cost: $10,000

An average-sized, single storey 2/3 bedroom house costs no more than $10,000 for painting the exteriors. If you factor in the recladding and insulation work you might expect a bill around $35,000.

Garden and deck renovation cost: $2,000 to $10,000

Depending on the surface area of the garden and deck you will have an expense lower than 10,000 for landscaping, basic light setup and fencing. For additional elements like an outdoor kitchen, BBQ or bar you might have to go beyond the budget.

Ventilation system cost: $2,000 to $5,000

One of the cheapest in home renovation is the roof ventilation replacement.

Roofing cost: $10,000 to $20,000

The cost of taking down and replacing the roof is going to largely vary with the choice of material. Corrugated Iron Roof is estimated to cost around $15,000.

home exterior

Home extension:

Some times you do not stop with the house renovation. You might need to add an extra room to accommodate the new member of the family or add a pool. Either way here is the cost involved in home extension projects.

Keep in mind this is going to bounce your budget way more than you think.

Swimming pool installation: starting from $35,000

The starting range of 7.5*4 meter fibreglass pool installation is going to cost you $35,000 without taking into account the cost of covers, decking, landscaping, etc. Concrete pools of the same size cost around $55,000.

Loft conversion cost: $200,000 to $450,000

This one thing is going to cost even more than the whole renovation budget itself. But it is an easy home extension if you need an extra room.

 

Miscellaneous renovation cost that you must know:

Individual prices of some of the common renovation work carried out in a house is listed so that you can add them in your budget. Please note, these work costs are already added in the room wise price if they are required. If you are looking for doing any of the specific tasks but not the whole room, only then add these costs to your budget list.

Designing: 5% to 20% of project value

The design and planning play a larger part in the pre-construction phase that can not be overlooked. You will most often require an architect or builders help to plan your home renovation. The price ranges from $1200 to $1800 for new builds and house extensions.

License, permits, insurance and other documents:

Contact your local council for more information.

Double glazing cost for the bathroom: $10,000

It can almost reduce the expense by half otherwise spent on buying new joinery.

Asbestos removal cost: $500 to $9,500

An unsafe process handled only by professionals will vary depending on the size of the house.

Rubbish removal: $300 to $2000

Skip bin is a buffer to store the demolished remains and other waste from the construction site that will later be disposed of. Depending on the waste, you need to order a bigger skip bin.

Flooring installation price: $50 to $200 depending on floor type

Carpet installation price: $175 to $750 for installation alone.

Interior house painting: $600 to $3,400 including labour and paint.

Interior decoration: $170 to $320 per hour (decors to be bought separately)

 

The budgeting doesn’t end here. There are some un-accountable expenses like transportation of materials and then there is the risk factor – unexpected expenses. Every project is different and has its own unique cost factors such as:

  • Access to the property, is it easy or hard to get materials and trucks into?
  • Is the renovation just a square box added to the back of the house, or an architectural masterpiece?
  • Are there any specialised building materials being used?
  • Are the finishes high end or budget?
  • Will major structural modifications be made to the existing house?

The above are just a handful of questions that you need to ask yourself before you take the cookie-cutter approach of adding a cost per square meter to your design. Leave a good headroom of 5-10% of the total cost for such expenses to avoid nightmares amidst construction period.

The geography of the house is a varying factor that you need to take account of while budgeting. It reflects in the cost of material and costs involved in licensing and buying permits and most of all labour costs. For example, the kitchen renovation labour costs an average of $50 in Queensland compared to $80 in New South Wales.

 

So, what is your budget?

Is the number bigger than you anticipated? It is to most of us. The main reason being the numerous renovation TV shows we are used to.

It doesn’t mean renovation shows are false either. Remember they do most of the work by themselves and do not have a profit margin at all. I know you are already thinking about DIY home renovation. But wait.

 

DIY home renovation

DIY home renovation: Things to know before you start

Taking responsibility and doing as much work by yourself is the best way to save money and get more involved in your home renovation project. But there are some caveats.

  • Construction is not easy. You need proper training to do work with the same quality as professionals.
  • Even with utmost dedication, you need to draw a line. You can’t take responsibility for all of the work. Speciality work like plumbing, electrical and Asbestos removal requires proper licensing along with online courses and training.
  • You need to spend money and time in the pre-construction phase if you are serious about taking complex DIY renovation work. The money you need to spend on licenses is going to be lesser than that you pay to the professional otherwise. But make sure you have enough time to spend on learning and on the site, especially if you want to be an owner-builder. Owner builder has a responsibility equal to the fulltime job of a building contractor.
  • With all that set, the risk of falling is higher when you swap out professional workers with yourself. So, have a larger contingency fund. Take proper insurances and be prepared for any mishaps.

My advice is to take DIY work only if you feel so short on funding and have plenty of time in hand.

 

Final thoughts

To wind it up, there is an easy and straight forward way to get an accurate figure or even a ballpark cost before starting your design is to talk with two to three professionals (I.e. Architects or Builders) about what you are proposing to do and take the averages of the estimates to get a starting point.

If you proceed to the next stage of getting your concept plans drawn, this will be enough for you to get tenders on before you move onto the final design, and give you room to scale up or down depending on the estimated costs.

Have you recently been given a square meter price to renovate your home? If so tell us about your experience in the comments section below to start the conversation.


 

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March 28th, 2020 in

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How long does it take to renovate a house? Renovation time calculator

The average duration for home renovation takes between 4 to 8 months. There are exceptions to this rule when the projects are very small or big in size, but most home renovations will fall somewhere within this timeline.

If you are fully renovating or remodelling your house, chances are it could take up to 6- 8 months or even more if you are adding large spaces with architectural detail. In case of renovating kitchen and bathroom with some minor cosmetic changes then it could be a just matter of few weeks.

 

James Construction Timeline method: calculating home renovation durations made easy

With more than 20 years of experience in the construction field working in hundreds of construction and renovation projects, here is what I found.

For a full-time builder or project manager, for every $80,000 of work that needs to be performed, a time commitment of 4–6 weeks is required. This does not include any of the upfront pre-commencement work; we will touch on these time frames later. This is called James Construction Timeline Method (named by myself) or simply JCT method.

I.e. if you were looking to spend $150,000, build time could be between 7.5 weeks and 11.25 weeks, or if you are spending $500,000 (Calculate as follows -> 500K  -:- 80K = 6.25; (6.25 * 4) weeks to (6.25 * 6 ) weeks = 25 weeks to 37.5 weeks approximately 9 months).

 

Note: This is not an exact scientific derivation but looking back over the data from my completed projects, I can say it comes pretty close to this figure.

To clarify the above I’m only talking about build time on site, I.e. When you strike your first blow with the hammer to vacuuming the dust off the floor for the last time.

You still have to factor in preliminary work that includes design, planning, getting permits etc.

 

The preliminary stages for most projects (if done correctly) can and probably should take longer than the construction time on site.

house renovation

What other time needs to be factored in?

Before you strike your first blow there are 3 critical stages that need to be done before and 1 more stage after it. So, that’s a total of 5 Key stages that all my renovation and builder’s course covers.

These key stages are listed below with some average times for how long each stage may take –

 

  1. The Research Stage – 2 weeks to 2 months or more.
  2. Plan Stage – 2 months to 6 months or more.
  3. Pre- Construction Stage – 3 months to 6 months.
  4. Construction Stage – Use JCT method to find the time duration for your construction project. ((4 weeks to 6 weeks on average per $80K of building cost).
  5. Project Completion Stage. – 3 months.

 

If you are reading this article, you are probably in one of the first three stages, more than likely in the initial research stage.

The Research stage

The Research stage is when you have first decided that you want to renovate your property and start to do your homework. You will start by working out what you can afford to spend. Start looking at the style of renovation you want. Search blogs and social media for ideas and inspiration, talk with other people who have renovated and generally start to build an idea in your mind of what you want.

Depending on how much homework you choose to do you could take anywhere from 2weeks to 2months for this stage.

TIP – Keep an organized filing system during your Research Stage where you can store all your information and ideas that you come across. This will help to communicate your ideas in the next stage of the process.

 

The Plan Stage

Plan Stage. This stage is where you get your ideas out of your head and down on paper in some form of a plan or sketch. So how long should this stage take? well depending on how many revisions you go for your initial concept drawing and the scale of your project it could be anywhere from a few months to six months or more.

I know 6 months might seem so distant. But going back and forth between a drafter or architect and your friends and family is a long process.  It took 6 months to get our plans ready for the “Small Space Big Build Project”, and over 12 months in total before we were ready to start on site.

 

The Pre-Construction Stage

Pre-Construction Stage consists of getting approvals from the relevant authorities. Here in Australia it is referred to as a Development Application (or DA for short). Along with getting your approval granted there is also time required for mapping out the timeline and schedule for your works, organizing trade contractors and material supply quotations and the selections process.

In my opinion, the Pre-Construction Stage is the largest most time-consuming stage out of all the 5 stages. You really need to put a lot of work in to ensure smooth running of the project. In retaliation to timing, t really does come down to how complex your project is. If you are doing a relatively small renovation (i.e $100K) 3 months may get you out of trouble. But for larger projects,6 months’ worth of planning may be closer to what it actually takes.

 

The project completion stage

Lastly after the Construction Stage is completed the final stage of Project Completion Stage comes. This stage takes into account all the requirements for obtaining final sign off by the relevant authorities. You are required to obtain an occupancy certificate upon completion of the construction works. It is not required for smaller renovations where a DA approval is not required.

There are also warranties and defects liability periods that you should enforce with your tradies and contractors. Some defects liability periods on average are around 3 months after the contractor has completed their work. So, I recommend allowing another 3 months at the end of the renovation to encompass all of the warranties and liability periods.

 

There you have it. I know it’s a lot of info to take in, but we are only just scratching the surface. Each one of these stages will have its own complexities and special requirements based on your own individual project. It’s my job to try and lay out as much of that information as possible.

 

I hope this information comes in handy, please feel free to drop any questions in the comments section below.

 

Until next time, happy renovating.

 

James Mason.


 

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