Owner Builder


Are you considering building your own deck, shed or home? Under new rules brought in by the Building Act 2016, the scope of works that can be done by owners without approval has increased, so you may not need a building surveyor at all.

However, extensive or structural work will generally require an Owner Builder Permit Application 2017, plans drawn up by a designer, a Certificate of Likely Compliance (CLC) issued by a building surveyor, and possibly a Building Permit. Full details are found in the Director’s Determination.

Work that can be done by owner builders falls into 3 categories:

Category 1: Low risk work (repairs, small sheds & garages)

  • no plans or CLC required

Category 3: Notifiable work (Class 10a buildings only, i.e. larges sheds & garages)

  • OB licence required
  • plans & CLC required

Category 4: Permit work (dwellings only)

  • OB licence & insurance required
  • plans & CLC required
  • building permit required

Owner builders cannot work on commercial buildings.

Works Categories

The Director’s Determination provides detail on what type of work falls into each category.

What you should know

If you are performing Low Risk work as an owner you are responsible for ensuring it complies with the Building Act 2016 and the National Construction Code (NCC). For example, you will need to consider:

  • planning approval
  • drainage and plumbing
  • boundary setbacks
  • bushfire-prone area design (if applicable).

You must also notify your council so they can keep accurate records of development for planning purposes.

If you are performing Notifiable or Permit work as an owner builder, then you must be a natural person and your name must be on the property title. Your owner builder licence will mean you effectively have the same responsibilities as a licenced builder.

If unsure, feel free to contact us.

Owner Builder Projects

You can only do two projects as an owner builder in a 10-year period.

A project does not include performing more work on work recently constructed – this will need to be treated as a new project with a new OB licence and building permit.

Low Risk work

Low Risk (Category 1) work can be done by an owner without having plans drawn up, and without needing approval by a building surveyor.

Low Risk work includes:

  • sheds/garages bespoke, up to 18 m2 in area
  • sheds/garages prefabricated, up to 36 m2 in area
  • animal shelters, cubby houses and garden pavilions/gazebos/glasshouses, up to 18 m2 area
  • decks up to 1 m height (unlimited area)
  • driveways, fences and retaining walls, with limitations.

Low Risk work on your house includes:

  • repairs, maintenance and replacement if non-structural and like-for-like
  • shade structures up to up to 36 m2
  • porch or verandah with a roof, up to 9 m2 in area
  • installation of a heating appliance, with notification to local council
  • photovoltaic solar panels on a roof, if parallel with the roof and up to 38 m2 in area.

Many of these works are limited in size and dimension so check the full details in the Director’s Determination or contact us.


Farmers and primary producers can build sheds up to 200 m2 in area, without approval, if they are for farming or horticultural activities and fit the limitations in the Director’s Determination.

Building Fees

Council fees may be applicable to all projects, regardless of category, but other fees on ly apply on projects over $20,000:

Large sheds and garages

Sheds and garages can be built by an owner without approval if they are prefabricated and under 36 m2 in area, or bespoke and under 18 m2 in area.

Sheds and garages over these size limitations can be built by an owner, but become Notifiable (Category 3) work and require an Owner Builder Licence.

For a Class 10 building (shed, garage, fence etc.) you will need:

  • An owner builder licence, but you won't need the White Card Induction course, the owner builder course, nor owner builder insurance.
  • A Certificate of Likely Compliance from a building surveyor.
  • Confirmation of payment (i.e. a receipt) of any applicable council and building fees.
  • A Start Work Authorisation from the building surveyor.


Owner Builder Fees

An owner builder licence can be obtained from Service Tasmania and costs $372.00.

Holdfast includes a surcharge of $350.00 (+GST) for owner builder projects.


Owners can work on their own home – either renovations or building from scratch – if they have an owner builder licence and a building permit.

For work on a Class 1a building (a dwelling) you will need:

  • an owner builder licence, with the White Card, owner builder course, and owner builder insurance
  • a Certificate of Likely Compliance from a building surveyor
  • a building permit from your local council.

This information is of a general nature only. Contact us for advice specific to your project, or visit Consumer, Building and Occupational Services for more information.