Owner-Builder Exemptions

Key information

A homeowner who qualifies for the exemption, can build, renovate or repair their own home.

But they still need to notify QLDC, meet the requirements of the Building Code, and apply for any consents.

Owner-builders liability is also 10 years for workmanship.

Who is classed as an owner-builder?

Someone who meets the following four criteria:

  1. Lives in, or is to live in, the home (including a holiday home/bach); and
  2. Owns it, and is an individual (not a company); and
  3. Is to carry out the Restricted Building Work to their own home themselves, or with the help of unpaid friends and family members; and
  4. Has not, under this Owner-Builder Exemption, carried out Restricted Building Work to any other home within the previous 3 years.

For specific wording, check the Building Act 2004, Sections 90B and 90C.

What standard of building work is required?

The standard of the work must be to the same level as if it was carried out by a Licensed Building Practitioners (LBP).

All the building work you do must still comply with the Building Code, and will be inspected as usual during your building process. You are responsible for the quality of work or any defects.

Who can do the work?

More information from MBIE Building Performance website is here.

Not convinced about your ability, or those of your family/friends?

If you have any doubts about your design and building knowledge/skills, it is strongly advised to employ Licensed Building Practitioners to do the building work.

Any owner considering this approach should check their level of building knowledge with:

Restricted Building Work

The owner-builder must make sure construction work is compliant with the Building Consent, the approved plans and specifications under it, and the NZ Building Code.

Some building work cannot be done unless the owner-builder is suitably licensed. So specialized licensed practitioners must do the work. This includes the following, along with links to registers to find them:

If the owner-builder chooses to have some Restricted Building Work done by a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP), they must notify QLDC of the LBP’s details prior to building work starting.

Upon completion of their work, the LBP provides the owner with a Record of Building Work.

Selling an owner-builder built house

If you decide to sell the home, future buyers will have access to this information showing whether the building work was carried out by the owner or an LBP.

As with other legal documents, the completed Form 2b statutory declaration is kept on the property file. It protects future owners in the event of building failure.

Liability for workmanship

As with Licensed Building Practitioners (LBPs), owner-builder liability extends to 10 years for workmanship.

LBPs are usually covered to fix defects under warranty from the building organisations they belong to e.g. the Registered Master Builders Federation, and the Certified Builders Association of New Zealand. These organisations have, by mutual agreement, agreed to stand behind the quality of the workmanship of their members.

If an owner-builder does not belong to either of these, it is unlikely that they will be able to obtain insurance and sureties for this work in the current insurance market.

If an owner-builder has retired from the building industry, it would be wise to ask who is providing the unexpired portion of the warranty. For instance, it may have been transferred to another building contractor or to a third-party warranty or surety plan provider.

What forms to use

Normally when applying for Building Consent, the Licensed Building Practitioners are listed for both the design and construction work.

In this case, a Statutory Declaration (on Form 2b) is to be submitted for the Restricted Building Work you will be responsible for. This could be for design and/or construction work.

Form 2b is submitted with the Building Consent application, or BEFORE the Restricted Building Work on your home starts.

Form 2b, and how to fill it out, is on the MBIE Building Performance website here.