Can I Build My Own House in Australia?


Where do I start if I want to build a house? | How to build a house for cheap? | How to build a house in Australia? | What to consider when building a house in Australia? | The costs of building a house in Australia | Is it cheaper to build or to buy a house in Australia? | What to know about building a house? | Can you build your own house in Australia? | How long to build a house in Australia? | How hard is it to build your own house? | Is it possible to build your own house?

When it comes to homeownership, nothing beats the experience of building your home from the ground up as it gives you room to come up with a home design that fits your budget and specifications. There’s also sweat equity involved in the process.

You can decide to hire a contractor to build your dream house for you or you can choose to do it yourself. NSW Fair Trading defines an owner builder as someone who can do owner-builder work under a permit issued by them.

Where do I Start if I Want to Build a House?

First, you need a place to build your home, so do a local search of lots that are available in the area you’re interested in. In urban areas like Sydney, lots are hard to find and you might have to buy an old home and demolish it. In this case, you’ll have to factor in demolition cost to construction costs but it is better than having your home in a place that isn’t convenient for you.

Come up with a draft home design of your dream house; from the floor plans, exteriors and everything else you need then look for professional builder (general contractor) and architect. The architect will give you his expert advice and will help refine your design while the general contractor will oversee the home construction.

Whether you’ll use savings or you have access to a construction loan from your bank, now is the time to come up with a budget. Once you’ve agreed with your architect on the design, your general contractor will break it down into phases and get estimates from other contractors who will work on the project.

Factor in all the costs; labor, construction materials, plumbing and electrical, landscapers and other professionals. Also, include an extra percentage for miscellaneous expenses or other unexpected costs that might arise along the way.

How to Build a House for Cheap?

Keep your home design as simple as possible. Avoiding a complex house plan will save you on labor costs. Buy a lot in a less populated area; lots in Adelaide for example cost around $175,000 while in Sydney it ranges from 300K to 500K. Use cheaper materials like shipping containers instead of traditional ones like stone as this will help cut cost. If you have construction experience, you can DIY and hire contractors or a few people to help you. Also, choosing a design with a simple roof will save you on cost.

How to Build a House in Australia?

Once you’ve found a lot, construction loan, agreed with your architect on home design, hired a contractor and signed a contract with them, sought approval from your local authority, construction process then starts. If you choose to be owner builder, you’ll oversee the process.

At this stage, excavation contractors come and start digging, levelling and grading the building site. A certifier then comes and inspects the site before the concrete contractor pours concrete. Once the project is certified and depending on the foundation type you choose, formwork, footings, footing drains, slab foam board insulation, steel reinforcing, gravel base and concrete layer is done. For a double storey, another inspection will be done before the second concrete slab is poured.

The second stage of your home building experience then begins; the contractors will start constructing the structural supports; walls, roof frames, insulation, wiring, and more is done at this stage. A second inspection of the property is done at this stage.

The third and final phase; the contractors will work on painting the walls, placing tiles or wood flooring, cabinets, air conditioning, security systems and other finishing touches. Once this is done, the property is inspected for the last time. Once certification is done, payment is done to the contractors, and at this stage the builder hands over.

What to Consider When Building a House in Australia?

There are a few things to consider:

  • Owner builders: Home builders who decide to build on their own should know their duties. As an owner builder you’re tasked with seeking permission from relevant local authorities, providing safe working environment, budgeting and more.
  • Budget: Once you have your home plan, get several quotes from builders and do a comparison, make sure same things are included. Factor in other costs like soil testing, modifications, landscaping, approvals and land registration to your final tally. Also, check whether you’re eligible for a First Home Owner Grant (FHOG) which is available for first time homeowners, eligibility requirements for homeowners differ from state to state.
  • Laws: Make sure that the builders you choose are licensed, also remember to sign a contract with them, seek advice from your lawyer before signing the contract. The subcontractors (plumbers, electricians, gasfitters) should be licensed as well. Also, remember to check with your local authority whether you need permission to construct.
  • Inspector: It is your responsibility to hire an inspector not your builder’s, so remember to hire them at the end of each stage to do the inspection of your dream home.

How Much Does It Cost to Build a House in Australia?

Several factors determine the cost of building a home in Australia.

  • Labor costs across Australia range anywhere from $50 to $80 per hour depending on location. Labor cost in a place like Victoria is $56 per hour, while in Western Australia it is $80 per hour.
  • The size of your home also determines the overall cost, the bigger it is, the more materials you’ll require.
  • The quality of materials will also determine the overall cost.
  • Across Australia, the cost of building an average sized home ranges anywhere from $271,000 to $1,124,550 according to Budget Direct.

Is It Cheaper to Build or Buy a House in Australia?

According to data obtained by, prices vary from place to place. Sydney for example is cheaper to build homes than buy. Average cost to build homes is approximately $867,864 while buying is approximately $925,761. In Adelaide, building a home is $502,353 and buying one is $461,972 so here it is cheaper to buy. In Melbourne, cost of building is $764,493 while buying is $734,423. The national average for building homes is $714,489 and for buying is $624,882. So, overall it is easier to buy, but in the end it all comes down to where you live.

What to Know About Building a House?

  • Location: When purchasing a lot, consider important things like security, accessibility to churches, schools, hospitals, malls, as this will impact the value of your home if you want to sell it in future.
  • Budget: Before you start, write down your budget; labor costs, material cost, down payments, and other fee. And stick to it so as to save on house building cost.
  • Builders: Choose the right contractor, check their credentials, past work, fee, style of constructing houses and how you communicate with each other because you’re going to work with them for some time.
  • Codes: Owners have to consider Australian codes in place which cover issues like efficiency and sustainability, health and safety, structural adequacy and more, make sure you abide by them to avoid problems.
  • Plan: Having clear plans will make your home construction experience smoother as this will save you time and money.

Can You Build Your Own House in Australia?

Yes, you can build your own home in Australia if you want to cut cost and save money. You’ll have to do an owner builder course if you’re working on a project which costs over $12,000.

Owner builder duties include:

  • Supervise other contractors working under you.
  • Manage the site and order materials.
  • Seek required council approvals.
  • Make sure that contractors working under you are licensed and insured.
  • Provide a safe work environment.

You’ll act as your own builder and project manager and will be in charge of construction process from house layout, money, plot drawings, preparing the foundation, concrete slab, foundations walls, and other building plans. You can act as a general contractor and hire other people to assist you in the project. Before you start working on the project, you’ll require permits if you’re doing construction work which costs $5,000 and above.

How long to Build a House in Australia?

According to industry experts, once you’ve land, proper plan and designs ready, the building project should take anywhere from four months to a year. Consider the site preparation, complexity of your design, the slope of your land and the number of levels when coming up with an estimated duration.

How Hard is It to Build Your Own House?

Building a house can be easy if you have expertise, but there is work that should be left to professional contractors like excavating the site, footing drains, foundations walls, and other steps that need to be done. You can then create the concrete slab, walls, paint and other things. You’ll be also tasked with cost management so you’ll be in charge of finances and budget, this can be challenging because you might be tempted to do modifications and go off budget and this might end up causing delays.

Is It Possible to Build Your Own House?

As an owner builder, please note that for work costing over $12,000 you’ve to do an approved owner-builder course, while work costing over $5,000 requires a permit. Also, remember that you’ll be in charge of finances and hiring other people to assist you. As an owner builder, you should also know other responsibilities like providing safe working environment for others working under you.

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