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Owner Builder V Building Company

21 July 2016

Renovating, extending or building a home is a huge commitment in all aspects, that’s a given. But the most important decision is whether to undertake the works as an Owner Builder or to use a professional Building contractor when planning your building project.

Saving money is the obvious catalyst for becoming an Owner builder, but there are a few things to consider before you head down that path. Let’s weigh up the pros and cons of a do-it-yourself extension or renovation compared to hiring an expert.

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As an owner builder you can save money but that saving will depend on your level of expertise and your ability to commit time to the project. By saving money you can add value to your project like building a larger extension or using the money saved on purchasing better quality materials, fixtures and fittings.  Ultimately as the owner builder you are in control and every dollar spent by not paying a builder which can mean more money in your pocket.

The popularity of ‘reality’ home improvement shows has also fuelled a growing trend for the DIY home improvement enthusiast. These ‘reality’ shows are carefully constructed narratives which condense the design and build process over a short time period and are scripted to maximise the entertainment value.

As a viewer we are only privy to what the producers want us to see, the swan gliding calmly and effortlessly across the lake; complete chaos beneath.


They don’t show all the work that has to go on in the background – the myriad of professionals and government departments that you have to engage or consult with in order to get a project up and running before the permit is even issued. The ‘reality’ is that renovations and extensions aren’t as simple as they seem and ensuring building requirements are met requires knowledge only a professional building contractor will have.

In Victoria, as an owner builder it is important to become familiar with your obligations, and there are procedures in place which you have to adhere to. You must obtain a Certificate of Consent from the Building Practitioners Board in order to obtain a building permit to carry out domestic building work valued over $16,000.  Failure to do so can result in significant penalties.

In order to obtain a Certificate of Consent, an owner builder must read an information and education kit and sign the statutory declaration, complete an application, pay a fee and send supporting documentation to the Building Practitioners Board (soon to be dismantled and replaced by the Victorian Building Authority).

For DIY renovation and extension work, you are fully responsible for the work that is done and you must also be aware of all the legal requirements including approvals, inspections and that the work complies with the National Construction Code, Building Regulations and Australian Standards. You also become responsible for the Occupational Health and Safety aspects of the construction.

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With regards to your finance, you may encounter difficulty funding your project through a bank as an owner builder. Some banks won’t finance a project unless it’s by a licensed builder, or will reduce the amount that they are willing to lend if it is for works conducted by an owner builder in order to reduce their risk.

A major area of consideration is the lack of access to properly qualified building trades, and the need to fully document the works required so the correct scope is identified. This will minimise arguments during and after the works. If you don’t have ongoing work for a trade it can be difficult once they start getting them back onsite and this can cause major disruption to any building schedule. Agreeing payment terms with trades can be challenging as many will insist on up-front deposits which will be at risk if the trade goes into administration or disappears.

As an owner builder, the best of relationships will be tested and a lack of cohesive planning and experience often ends in mistakes, budget blowouts, overruns and emotional meltdowns.

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Truth be told, undertaking extension and renovation work with little or no understanding of the building process can end up costing you more money than what you can savie. For small scale projects it may make sense but the more complex a project becomes, the more compelling the argument to engage a licenced building practitioner becomes.

Using an experienced and licensed Design and Build Company and getting the job done properly first time around will save you money in the long run and deliver your new and improved home on time.  Their job is to ensure that everything has been thought about before the project starts, and once it gets out of the ground that it finishes on time and on budget.

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  • “The quality of tradesmen Supa Group employ are very good. Our original home was built by a volume builder and doesn't compare to the workmanship displayed by Supa Groups tradesmen.”

    Steve and Anna of Pascoe Vale South
  • “The works commenced in November and as promised the second storey was at lock up well before Christmas.”

    John and Grazie of Box Hill North
  • “Our previous experience of builders has not been great, however we immediately experience a far more professional, friendly and reliable approach.”

    David and Kathryn of Wantirna
  • “A big Thank You for a smooth project throughout all its stages, which did not interfere with our busy household of seven.”

    Naso and Eva of Bulleen
  • “Thank you for working with us over the last year to make our dream of renovating our much loved home a reality.”

    Mark and Catherine of Hampton
  • “Wez and I were very touched by the kind thoughts and flowers we received for our family loss, we warmly thank you so very much...and this is Supa Group!!!”

    Wez and Pina of Rowville
  • “You get results that make you smile every time you come home and open the front door. You get a home that brings you joy.”

    Steve and Jenny of Watsonia
  • “The Design process was like no other we have experienced. We were excited from day one and we are still smiling from ear to ear.”

    Kleanthis and Emma of Oakleigh East
  • “Our building supervisor Braidon Marshall was absolutely fantastic. He was friendly, approachable and accessible when we had a few issues out of hours. We sprung a leak on one rather rainy night, and he came to the rescue after his birthday dinner no less!”

    Danny and Melissa of Coburg
  • “The pleasant demeanor, accommodation of questions and assistance through the process has provide us with a feeling of a priority client. ”

    Peter and Louise of Alphington
  • “What was really impressive was that the building works were completed in an incredible 6 weeks!!!!”

    Chris and Michelle of Camberwell
  • “I highly recommend anyone to consider Supa Group for an extension on their home. I am absolutely delighted we chose Supa Group to make our dreams come true!”

    Tony and Claire
  • “We are very happy in our new home and we would like to thank all the staff at supagroup.”

    Dale and Cristina, Port Melbourne
  • “Supa Group has done a great job capturing our vision with the original ideas and plans we had in mind and the result is better than we would have expected.”

    Con and Daniella, East Keilor
  • “From initial plans right through to the end Supagroup have been polite, professional and super efficient and well organised. Thanks to everyone at Supagroup for helping realise my dreams.”

    Claudia, West Footscray
  • “We have no hesitation in recommending Supa Group and we have already started in our Church community, neighbourhood and Tin's work place.”

    David and Tina, Gladstone Park
  • “We would not hesitate to recommend Supa Group to any family or friends who may consider a house extension.”

    George & Elizabeth, Maidstone
  • “The end result has exceeded my expectations. Not only is the end result stunning but also the manner in which it was achieved was exemplary. I would have no hesitation in recommending Supa Group to others considering extending their homes.. ”

    Jane, Blackburn
  • “...we were looking for a no fuss solution, which would require as little input from us as possible. We certainly found that with the Supa Group. We found you professional and timely right throughout the building phase.”

    Peter and Rose, Taylors Lakes
  • “My family and I would like to thank you for your excellent quality of work done on our second level extension. It's been an exciting six months watching our house turn into the home we were hoping for.”

    Tom and Vicky, Mill Park
  • “We have found the whole experience of a new extension something interesting and exciting and are delighted to recommend Supagroup to our friends and neighbours.”

    Tim and Kathy, Beaconsfield
  • “Every day we look around and are amazed at what has been achieved. ...our journey with Supa Group has been amazing to say the least. ”

    Damian and Anthea
  • “We would not hesitate in recommending Supa Group to others that are thinking of renovating or extending.”

    Maria and Vince