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Article on Abbreviations and acronyms for owner builders by adam

Abbreviations and acronyms for owner builders

Adam Weaver

OMG abbreviations WT...

Recently a couple of owner builders confessed that they've been drowning in the sheer number of acronyms and abbreviations in their owner builder licence paperwork, and that we (Allrisk) were the only ones able to explain what these acronyms mean. That's a dubious honour at best, so let's try to go through some of the more common shorthand for posterity:


ALL: These are Asset Protection Zones - land buffers between higher bushfire risk areas and humans or other valuable assets.


NSW: This is the Building Sustainability Index - a web-based tool to assess the proposed development against factors like water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.


ALL: This is the Building Code of Australia.


NSW (mostly): This is a Complying Development Certificate - a fast track approval system for low impact development on certain criteria.


ALL: This is a Certificate of Occupancy, your council's document confirming that they've inspected your owner-built home and believe it to be suitable. It's just a piece of paper, if you've finished the project but will have to wait weeks for the council to be able to inspect, we'd urge you to get immediate home insurance to protect the building (as once you've finished building, owner builder construction insurance may not be valid).


VIC: This is Domestic Building Insurance - covering the risk of the owner builder going bankrupt/dying/disappearing and leaving the purchase of the owner-built home with shoddy work or defects. This can only be purchased through approved agents - more info here.


NSW: This is the Home Building Compensation Fund - it covers the risk of the builder/tradesman going bankrupt/dying/disappearing and leaving the owner builder with shoddy work or materials. Owner builders themselves do not buy this insurance (the owner builder him/herself isn't going to claim on him/herself for his/her own bankruptcy).


WA: This is Home Warranty Insurance - covering the risk of the owner builder going bankrupt/dying/disappearing/failing to comply with a tribunal order and leaving the purchaser of the owner-built home with shoddy work or defects.


NSW: This is Insurance & Care NSW, the government body administering the Home Building Compensation Fund and NSW Workers' Compensation. Don't get their functions confused - one is not a substitute for the other; whilst owner builders won't need the HBCF directly (though contractors do), they may need workers' compensation for sole trader contractors working for the owner builder.


NSW: This is the Long Service Levy payable to your council in respect of long service payments to construction industry workers. Owner builders may be able to apply for a reduction in the levy proportional to the amount of their own labour in the work. 


NSW (mostly): This is a Principal Certifying Authority - the body issuing permits and inspecting work during the build to ensure compliance with some legal requirements. It may be your council directly, or may be a building certifier reporting to the council on your behalf.

And there are many more!

Being an owner builder can be very rewarding, but with the volume of requirements and paperwork it can feel daunting. At least the insurance part isn't difficult - we provide instant online quotes (also immediately e-mailed to you) along with a description of the options which can be insured, together with the relevant insurance policy documents.

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