Obligations and responsibilities of owner-builders and their building project

Last updated: 21 March 2016

You can build, renovate or repair your own home using the Owner-Builder Exemption, but you still need to meet Building Code requirements, apply for any consents and let your council know.

The Owner-Builder Exemption ensures the Kiwi tradition of DIY building work can continue.

If you're a homeowner who qualifies for the exemption, you will not need to be or use a licensed building practitioner (LBP) for any restricted building work on your home. However, you will still need to apply for a building consent.

You can apply for the exemption when you submit your building consent application. Any work you do will be listed as a do-it-yourself job on your Land Information Memorandum for any future buyers to see.

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.

There are criteria you need to meet to be considered an owner-builder. You are an owner-builder if you:

  • live in or are going to live in the home (this includes a bach or holiday home)
  • carry out the restricted building work to your own home yourself, or with the help of your unpaid friends and family members
  • have not used the Owner-Builder Exemption to carry out restricted building work to any other home in the previous 3 years.

Who can do the work

As an owner-builder, family members and friends can help you with restricted building work on your home as long as you are not paying them.

Any restricted building work that is not done by you or your unpaid friends or family members must be carried out or supervised by an LBP who holds the appropriate licence class. They must also give you a Record of Work.

You can still hire a designer to draw your plans. If the design includes restricted building work they will need to provide a Certificate of Work.

Your council will record the work and who it was carried out by on your LIM.

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.

You cannot carry out all aspects of construction work, even with an Owner-Builder Exemption. There is some specialised building work which must be carried out by a suitably qualified person.

This work includes:

  • plumbing
  • gas-fitting
  • drain-laying
  • electrical work.

Applying for and using the exemption

You need to complete a statutory declaration form to show you meet the owner-builder criteria before you can use the exemption.

The form has to be witnessed and signed by a Justice of the Peace or someone else authorised to do so.

You will need to give the form to your local council when you submit your building consent application.

Giving notice

If you do not give your council the form with your consent application, you will need to provide them with a notice that you, as an owner-builder, are going to carry out restricted building work on your home.

As an owner-builder, you will also need to give them a notice if:

  • there is a change in you carrying out the restricted building work
  • you cease to carry out the restricted building work.

This information is published by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment’s Chief Executive. It is a general guide only and, if used, does not relieve any person of the obligation to consider any matter to which the information relates according to the circumstances of the particular case. Expert advice may be required in specific circumstances. Where this information relates to assisting people: