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Registration as an Owner Builder; and Other Useful Information PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 May 2008

Owner builderOne of our readers, Les, has completed a few owner-builder projects and kindly provided us with some of the processes involved from registration with the NHBRC as an owner-builder to the Certificates you will need as well as other useful information you may want to take note of.



Les says:

There is no problem registering as an owner builder with the NHBRC.

At the time I registered I paid a fee of R1,500 (it may be more now) and then either you get a date to write a technical exam or have a technical interview.  I believe the exam is multiple choice.

If you have never built before you could find a consultant to facilitate the above process for  you to assist you with registration.  

At registration you receive two books as well these are quite useful. 

Once you have done the interview/exam you wait several weeks, at this stage you have to attend an NHBRC orientation seminar where they explain all the ins and outs of the process as follows.

The process of enrolling your building development.
The appointment of a structural engineer.
Your structural liability (5 years).
Roof structure liability (3 years).
When you are no longer liable (e.g. any structural changes once house is sold).
The bank and you.
The NHRBC inspection process.
The NHBRC arbitration process if it all goes wrong.

At the end of the orientation you will receive your certificate.


The onus is on the owner to check that the house is enrolled with the NHBRC. You (even if you are not registered) or your NHBRC Registered developer must enroll the house using this certificate.


You must be very sure that you have enough cash to build from start to finish.
You cannot sell the house for five years.
No bank will bond the house if you run out of cash.


You will need to gather the following information and be aware of the following before embarking on the build.
Geo Report. (Soil condition report.  Try and get this before you even purchase land as it may cost you in the long run.)
What building restrictions are there for the area?
If in a security complex get all the applicable building guidelines. Do they allow owner builders or must you use their prescribed developers.
Enroll the build with the NHBRC after council approval of the plans.
Get your plans approved by your local council and appoint a competent person (your structural engineer). 
The structural engineer is responsible for the integrity of the structural work and he/she will typically check the following stages:

Design and inspect trench size and depth requirements and any steel work involved.

Check that the surface bed has been adequately back-filled and compacted and any steel work involved. (Note if there is a large fall in the land you may need some additional input from your engineer).

1st floor block and rib installation (typically the suppliers have their own appointed engineer who will also issue a certificate that the installation complies with their plan).

Either your engineer or a competent person registered with Mitek must inspect roof rafters (prior to installing tiles or other).

Design plans for retaining walls and any boundary wall over 1.8m and inspection.

The design and inspection of any suspended staircases etc.

Final inspection.


Surface bed Poison Certificate.
Suspended Floor. (Basically this is the first floor slab and suppliers to supply plan for installation)
Electrical Installation Certificate.
Plumbing Installation and Connection Certificate. (Note: This is applicable to the external sewer system.  Council has to inspect installation before you close up and the plumber has to issue a certificate. There are some pressure tests involved and a check to see that the fall is correct as per approved plan.)
Roof Structure Certificate (roof rafter supplier to supply plan of erection).
Glass Certificate.
Gas Installation Certificate.
Structural Certificate. 
Occupation Certificate. This is issued by the council and is based on the input of the above certificates and a final onsite inspection by council. Council will typically inspect any of the following:
Staircase treads and risers.
The building is built according to plan.
The inspection of all your certificates the most important being your Roof and Structural Certificate.
Safety glass requirements.
Is the building safe to be occupied?

Each Council operates slightly different but when you get back your approved plan the process is typically prescribed.

Article provided by Les Turvey, Owner-Builder.

Les also recently provided a detailed account of his costing for two of his owner-building projects. You can find that article here .

Last Updated ( Saturday, 21 March 2009 )
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