Construction Projects – Owner-Builder Responsibilities and Risk Considerations

December 3, 2013 - 4 minutes read

ConstructionUnder the Building Act, an owner-builder is the person registered on a property title who carries out building works on that property. Regulations for new church building projects or renovations require that a building permit is issued to the owner-builder before commencement. The permit-holder is then responsible for all compliance and safety issues with regard to the project.

In cases of Churches of Christ in Victoria and Tasmania, building permits will usually be issued in the name of Properties Corporation (exceptions may apply in a case where a church congregation is independently incorporated and able to enter into contracts in its own right).

Responsibilities of the permit-holder

  • Compliance with all building codes and regulations.
  • Reporting to the building surveyor after each mandatory notification stage is completed.
  • Ensuring all building works are carried out by the owner-builder or a professional licensed commercial builder.
  • Ensuring that in cases where volunteer labour is used to save costs, works such as electrical wiring and plumbing are always carried out by licensed contractors.

Owner-builder risk considerations


  • Project cost blowouts due to variations, inadequate estimating or cost increases, or not allowing for the cost of site protection and safety measures. To mitigate these risks a professional quantity surveyor or project manager should be hired to accurately cost the project and allow for a broad range of contingencies.
  • The risk of loss from fire, theft or other type of damage. In this case there should be good risk management in place and insurance cover should be extended to allow for construction projects.
  • Claims by owners of adjoining properties – if there is a requirement to undertake protection work for neighbouring properties, this may involve an extra cost which needs to be considered. Insurance cover should also be extended to cover this risk.


  • Costs associated with rectifications required for non-compliant or faulty work, or lack of technical ability in managing and directing project works. As such it’s vital that a professional project manager is employed to oversee all works.


  • Accidents and injuries can add to the cost of a project. In this case it’s essential to have a good health and safety plan in place and adequate insurance cover for these risks. The safety plan should be managed by the site supervisor.

Property values:

  • To prevent a drop in property values from the work, it is essential that all work is compliant, closely supervised and subjected to regular inspections from the building surveyor.

For more information, see our separate article on new constructions here, and on safety issues during church renovations here.

Assistance from Properties Corporation

Properties Corporation can provide professional assistance to churches undertaking building projects. Our services include advice on budgets and costing, fund raising, applications for grants and loans, property contracts, permits and legal requirements. Contact Joel Plotnek on 03 9488 8800 for more information.

For help and information regarding insurance requirements, contact the CCI office on 03 9488 8800.

Written by Tess Oliver






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