Frequently Asked Questions

Common Questions

Are owner-builders entitled to tax deductions?

Yes, owner-builders are entitled to certain deductions under Division 43 of the Income Tax Assessment Act (ITTA) 1997. The deductions relate primarily to construction expenditure such as:
  • Preliminary expenses such as engineering fee, foundation excavation expenses, building permits etc
  • Some portion of the indirect costs
For more information, please contact the Australia Tax Office (ATO) on 13 72 26, or click here to visit the ATO webpage.

Can a Company or Charity Apply for an Owner-Builder permit?

Yes, only if land is owned by a company that is wholly owned by individuals, then the land is to be taken to be owned by those individuals.
The home building act states that "An application for an owner-builder permit may be made only by an individual, and not by a corporation, partnership or other association."

Can an owner-builder permit be obtained for dual occupancy?

Owner-builders are prohibited from getting a permit for a dual occupancy except in special circumstances.
'Special circumstances' applications for owner-builder permits are considered individually on their merits. There is no 'standard' set of circumstances that qualify for that purpose. Applicants for special circumstances need to submit additional supporting information for their application

Can I Build A Granny Flat as an Owner Builder?

Yes, as long as it meets the requirements and specific development standards for a secondary dwelling under the Home Building Act.
NSW Planning and Environment indicate that a granny flat, or secondary dwelling, is self-contained accommodation within, attached or separate to an individual home. A local Council or accredited certifier can certify granny flats as complying development without the need for a development application, provided they meet the specific development standards in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009.
To be allowed to build a granny flat as complying development it must be:
Established in conjunction with another dwelling (the principal dwelling),
On the same lot of land as the principal dwelling (and not an individual lot in a strata plan or community title scheme); and
May be within, attached to, or separate from the principal dwelling.
More information on granny flats can be located here

Can I Renovate My Apartment using an Owner Builder Permit?

An owner builder permit cannot be issued or used for renovations to an existing apartment/unit/flat/townhouse/duplex within a strata complex.

CHOICE Guide To Renovating Your Home

How can I apply for a second owner-builder permit for a second property within the 5 year limit?

Whilst you can only apply for 1 owner-builder permit within a 5 year period, some exemptions may apply.
You will need to complete a 'Special circumstances' application, which are considered individually on their merits. There is no 'standard' set of circumstances that qualify for that purpose. Applicants for special circumstances need to submit additional supporting information for their application.

How can I make my renovation a success?

House renovations rank in the top 10 stressful life events. It happens through the collision of having a fantasy that a new house is going to give you a better life and the fact that you are spending a truckload of money.
As anyone who has lived to tell the tale knows, it also brings pressure to make fast, mostly irreversible, decisions. There is the din and disruption of building and builders and compromised personal space, whether living amid the wood shavings or renting something small in the meantime because renovating can be highly stressful Reality reno-television relies on the emotional drama of the process to maintain interest in the shows, which rate through the roof. And, just as "factual" bricks-and-mortar programming focuses on the mood fluxes and problem-solving skills of participants, renovation stress can affect marital or de facto relationships.
Renovation stress can mean trouble for a relationship because it comes on top of everything else that is happening in your life. It may sound obvious but it all starts with good planning the planning of 'what' and 'how'. So many people do not do good planning.
Poor planning that leads to amplified stress can magnify all sorts of existing issues in a relationship. When we're stressed we resort to old, sometimes toxic habits. The veneer of 'nice' disappears and the control freak comes screaming out of the closet as a critic and judge. The procrastinator will procrastinate even more.
How to surmount this obstacle?
Planning and a cohesive vision start with your vision statement what is the [visual] theme of your house going to be? In a country house, you might start with a Japanese theme. In a [1860 bluestone] city house you might consider old meets new and, in a neutral colour scheme and give a signature colour to each room. Develop a mood board so as not to become one of the many people who start with the taps, the carpet colour and the material for the curtains and they just end up being overwhelmed by choice.
First, figure out your overarching theme and develop the mood board pasted with samples, colours and room photographs. Get lots of samples for your mood board and make it an interesting exercise so that you and your partner can agree before you start spending money.
Reconcile the vision before you start spending. Are you doing '60s? Hippie? or minimalist?
Budget. Get real. You need to build in a 20% contingency and the ABE Education Project Advisory Pack Calculator ( click on above Tab ) automatically adds this onto all of your trade and costs as you insert them. Don't kid yourself that you won't need it. If you don't use it all, then terrific. You'll have cash to splash at the end.
Don't rush to act. The reason amateur renovators make costly mistakes is they believe they have to do it all very quickly. You are not efficient when you rush.
Set priorities. You will always want to do more than you can. It is therefore useful to work out what is (a) essential; (b) optional; (c) desirable. It is also useful to work out the scope of what you can do so you can ask what options might be deleted or downgraded [in the short term]. The whole process is to make it all easier.
Divvy up the roles between yourself and partner so as to define who is specialising in what aspect of the build project'. One manages the budget and the timelines, the other might source the materials.
Power of veto is another handy tool in the minutiae of negotiations that go into renewing a shared home. If you disagree, then try to compromise. And if one partner really wants a particular feature and the other hates the very idea of it? 'you both have to have the right to say, 'No. Absolutely not!'
We suggest limiting veto power to perhaps three times and further that they can be traded as compromises. This causes you to choose very carefully and forces you to keep thinking, looking and working until you find something that you are both happy with.

Don't expect no problems. Renovation fatigue is real however if you work through these conversations regularly, you might not only build a new house but a new relationship!

How Secure is it to buy on line from ABE Education?

We are very very careful with your information!
We use eWay purchase gateway which has SSL technology to securely process your credit card details and at no time is this information stored on our servers.
eWay Transaction Gateway will encrypt and process your payment securely online.

I have a power-of-attorney (POA) from the owner of a property, but have no prescribed interest in the property.

No. An owner builder permit will not be issued where there is a power of attorney. The Home Building legislation clearly states that the owner builder must have a prescribed interest in the property.

If there are multiple owners on the property title, how many need to apply for the owner-builder permit?

Owner-builders are required to name all other owners of the land on an application for an owner-builder permit. This is recorded on the permit to prevent people using this system to carry out commercial unlicensed building work. Any owners named cannot apply for another owner-builder permit for a different property for 5 years.

Is the work contributed by an owner-builder covered by the tax deduction?

No, an owner-builder’s contribution to the works, including labour and expertise do not form part of construction expenditure. Other activities not included as construction expenditure include:
  • Acquiring land
  • Clearing, leveling, filling, draining, and preparing the construction site prior to carrying our excavation work
  • Demolishing existing structures
  • Landscaping
  • Plant and equipment
For more information, please contact the Australia Tax Office (ATO) on 13 72 26, or click here to visit the ATO webpage.

My Elderly Mum Owns the Property So Can I (her son) Apply for an Owner Builder Permit on Her Behalf?

NO. Only persons who own the land on which the work is to be undertaken can apply for an Owner- Builder permit.

However there is nothing to prevent your elderly mother obtaining her permit (via on-line training) and that you assist in organising and running the building project with her.

What Can I build with an Owner Builder Permit?

Residential building work (not commercial) where the reasonable market cost of the labour and materials exceeds $10,000, and relates to a single dwelling house.
An owner builder permit cannot be used for:
  • Renovations to an existing apartment/unit/flat/townhouse/duplex within a strata complex
  • Where the property is not for residential purposes.

What do I do if I lose or damage my certificate?

Simply email or call us 02 9798 5000 to advise of lost or damaged certificate.
We will provide you with a replacement Certificate by email within 24-36 Hrs.
There may be a charge for certificates older than 12 months to cover the cost of archive recovery.

What does the Act mean when it refers to a prescribed interest in the form of a leasehold interest in the land in perpetuity, for life, or for a term exceeding 3 years?

You are considered to have a prescribed interest in the land, if you have a leasehold of over 3 years or forever (perpetuity/life). Such an interest would have to be registered on the title to the land. This is a requirement under the Real Property Act 1900.

What happens if my application to NSW Fair Trading is refused?

If your owner-builder permit application is refused, you will receive a written determination. If you believe this determination to be incorrect, you may apply for a review of the decision, free of charge. Instructions on how to apply for a review will be included with your written determination.
For more information, contact NSW Fair Trading on 13 32 20.
Alternatively you can make an enquiry on the NSW Fair Trading website here

What is defined as ‘prescribed interest’ in the property?

The Act states that a person has a prescribed interest in property, if that person individually, jointly or in common, either by law or in equity:
  • Has a freehold interest in the land (such as where the person is duly registered under the Real Property Act 1900 as the proprietor of an estate in fee simple, whether unconditionally, for life or in remainder), or
  • Has a leasehold interest in the land in perpetuity, for life, or for a term exceeding 3 years.

What's new in 2023 for NSW owner-builders?

Owner-builders undertaking work over $20,000 must complete the mandated owner-builder training which comprises of the following five units of competency from the Construction, Plumbing and Services Training Package:
  • CPCCWHS2001 Apply WHS requirements, policies and procedures in the construction industry
  • CPCCOM2001 Read and interpret plans and specifications
  • CPCCCM1011 Undertake basic estimation and costing
  • CPCCOM1013 Plan and organise work
  • CPCCOM1014 Conduct workplace communication

ABE Education have updated their owner-builder course and subjects to meet the above requirements, and upon successful completion, a statement of attainment listing the above competencies will be issued.
ABE Education in conjunction with edway training also offer the required WHS training for a Nationally Recognised Construction Induction White Card.

When Do I Need to Apply For an Owner-Builder Permit?

If the work is valued at more than $20,000 you will need to complete the Course in Owner-builder Compliance or have the approved equivalent qualifications and experience. The NSW Course in Owner Builder Compliance is the only approved education course for prospective applicants who do not possess the equivalent qualifications and experience.

When do I need to obtain a general construction induction training card?

Any work requiring an owner-builder permit (all residential building work valued over $20,000) requires that you hold a current general construction induction training card (within the meaning of the Work Health and Safety Regulation 2011), generally referred to as a White Card.

Where do I take my Course Certificate to Apply for an Owner-Builder permit?

Take the original (or JP signed copy) of your course completion certificate together with a completed Owner Builder Permit Application Form and documents which identify you as an owner of the property to your nearest Service NSW and pay the required fees.

Do you qualify?

To qualify and apply for RPL you must meet one of the following criteria:
  • You possess current competency in the modules for which RPL is being claimed, i.e. you may have completed the modules with another Training Organisation, but did not complete all the modules required for the full permit.
  • You have been working in the building industry for the past 3 or more years, and have completed a qualification relating to WHS, Management or Drawings and Specifications, and have applied the relevant competencies in the residential building industry.
  • You have held a general building work licence or qualified supervisor certificate and possess the required underpinning knowledge specified in the relevant modules.

How long does it take?

The turn-around time for RPL is usually 10 working days, at which point we may contact you for further questioning. Once this is complete, a further 5 working days is required to collate a summary of the outcome. You will be contacted by email detailing whether you have received any Recognition, and which modules you may still be required to complete.
Important: ABE Education offers no guarantee that Recognition will be given simply because you qualify for RPL. If you are still required to complete some modules, but are unsatisfied with the RPL result, you will not be issued a refund.
When conducting the RPL process, our assessors are bound by strict regulatory guidelines and must ensure you meet each critical aspect of knowledge and skill. If our assessors do not abide by these guidelines, ABE Education would be in breach of the compliance requirements set by the National Vet Regulator, ASQA – serious penalties apply. 

How much does it cost?

The administration fee to process your application is $150. If you qualify, you will then be required to pay the full price of the course. Please note that these fees are GST exempt.

Recognition of Prior Learning

RPL is known as Recognition of Prior Learning and is a formal acknowledgment of your skills and knowledge that you have gained through training, work experience and/or life experiences. 
RPL is an assessment process that assesses your formal and informal learning to determine the extent to which you have achieved the required standards for entry into training for a qualification or in this instance, for an owner- builder permit. 
RPL comes at an additional fee and you will be required to complete documentation as well as provide an extensive amount of physical evidence as proof of your knowledge and skills which can be difficult to prove in the building industry. We've had engineers, architects and licensed builders all decide to complete the owner-builder course as prescribed by NSW Fair Trading as it is quicker and easier than having to go through the process of preparing and collating evidence for review.

What happens if my application for RPL is not granted?

If your application is not granted, you will be required to complete the course in full in order to obtain your owner-builder statement of attainment. You will not be eligible for a refund.

What type of evidence will I be required to supply?

The list below details some of the evidence you may be required to provide. Please be aware that this list is not exhaustive.
  • Up-to-date Resume
  • Detailed evidence of past education and training undertaken
  • Detailed list of interests/experiences that have helped you gain the knowledge and skills relating to this course
  • Certificates
  • Reference from past employers
  • Job descriptions
  • Correspondence with professionals relating to building and construction
  • Correspondence with relevant building authorities Industry consultation
  • Work schedules
  • Completed Safe Work Methods
  • Completed Material safety Data Sheets
  • Order systems
  • Budgets and costing documents
  • Evidence of orders places and receipted
  • Testimonials
  • Completed risk assessments
  • OH&S Training
  • Work samples
  • Sample drawings, sketches, diagrams including section, elevation and Standards of work
  • Copies of memos
  • Evidence of insurance requirements
  • Project plans and ability to read and interpret the project plans
  • Contracts and ability to identify terms
  • Contract clauses including progress claims, EOT, variations, defects liability periods
  • Site Diary
  • Site Minutes
  • Meeting Minutes
As well as the above documentation, ABE Education may contact you for a short interview to further confirm your knowledge. This may include questioning you on your understanding of:
  • Owner-builder work
  • The relevant authorities
  • Legislation and regulations associated with the proposed building work
  • Various stages of construction
  • OH&S, including signs and First Aid Kits
  • Ability to read and interpret the plans of at least 2 different project plans
  • Knowledge of building contracts
  • Communication skills, including ability to run meetings and deal with dispute resolution.
All evidence provided to ABE Education must comply with the rules of evidence, as set by the NVR. These are:
  • Authentic (your own)
  • Valid (directly related to the course)
  • Reliable (shows that you consistently meet the requirements
  • Current (shows current knowledge and skills)
  • Sufficient (covers all the elements within a unit or module)
If you have any further questions, please not do not hesitate to contact us on EMAIL, or 02 9798 5000.

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