Building an Owner Builder House

To build an Owner Builder House is an amazing and a rewarding achievement, at the start you may wonder if you can do it.

Piece by piece, then room by room the house comes together and eventually you can stand back and admire it! WOW!

We have had quite a few visitors who find it hard to believe you can build a amazing and practical house out of shipping containers.

Of course you can!   Plans, planning and build!


What is an 'Owner Builder'

An 'Owner Builder' takes on the responsibility of overseeing the whole building project from 'start to finish' which must be their house on their own land, that they must intend to live in.

Generally the intentions of an 'Owner Builder' is to save money by doing some of the work themselves and then use contractors when necessary like electricians and plumbers etc.


Another option is to be a 'Project Manager' and contract all the work out but as your not doing any major work it most likely won't be cost effective and may not make the project cheaper than buying a 'ready' to move into house.

An 'Owner Builder' needs to obtain building permits and other necessary paperwork including owner builder insurance, supervise the project, organise tradesmen, order and purchase items for the build, create a budget for the build and keep track of spending.



Our container house is 'homestead' style with a huge verandah that does an
excellent job of keeping the very hot summer sun off the house.

owner builder shipping container house


How To Become an 'Owner Builder'

Any person wanting to be an 'Owner Builder' and build an Owner Builder house must do an 'owner builders' course which can be done online or maybe done locally at an education centre.

You will also need to get a 'white card' which is for 'Work, Health and Safety' requirements if you don't have one already.

This is the NSW owner builder course that we used Owner Builder Centre, it does take several hours to work through. We did it over several days as you can stop anytime and save it, then just login again and keep on going until it is finished and you have passed every question.

Then you will receive your 'owner builder' certificate and white card, which was great to have and a big step forward to be able start planning and building our shipping container house.



Owner Builder Information For Each State and Territory

Each State or Territory in Australia may vary for 'Owner Builder' information and regulations, please use the link below that is applicable to where you are building the owner builder house.

For other countries try searching for 'owner builder' regulations and information or building codes and standards.

These links below are examples of what is available, which are information pages from each state or territories local government - you can search for other information options also.

Australian Capital Territory - ACT Owner Builders

Northern Territory -  NT Owner Builder Information

Tasmania - TAS Owner Builder Registration

Queensland - QLD About Owner Building

New South Wales - NSW Becoming an Owner Builder

Victoria - VIC About Owner Builders

Western Australia - WA Information For Owners Builders



Prepare To Build an 'Owner Builder' House

Now it gets exciting, you probably have many ideas and plans for your owner builder house that you are going to build, don't rush, do a lot of planning and preparation.

Your plans and ideas may change every week or month until you are finally happy with everything in your plans.

We built a shipping container house, there are other options like the traditional timber framed homes, steel kit homes 
or the unique 'mud brick' or 'straw bale' houses.

The best advise you can get is from your local shire or council 'Building inspector' from the very start, take your 'hand drawn' or 'computer printed' plans, plan of the block and have a list of things to ask.


Take on board his or her suggestions and 'must do' items, you may have to rethink your plans or hopefully you are on the right track. Also taking in images similar to what your are planning to build will help.

Especially if it is something unusual as a 'container' house as they may have not have had to 'oversee' them before.
 - our building inspector had not, but he managed very well after the initial shock!

Start the paperwork as soon as possible, there will be plenty of it.

Whatever style of house you plan to make you will have to have 'owner builder' insurance, I found out that not many insurance companies have their own 'owner builder' insurance.
I asked for three quotes at different insurance companies and they were all to be managed by CGU insurance.

This article and video is an excellent introduction to being an Owner Builder

Owner Builder frequently asked questions






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› Owner Builder House

Click the ebook to discover about building 'Our Container House'

Tina Dean in Victoria, VIC, AU on Houzz

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