LBP Codewords



The owner-builder exemption

Codewords 112: By Bruce Duggan, Senior Technical Advisor, Occupational Regulation, MBIE

1 June 2023

7 minutes to read

When restricted building work became law in 2012, measures were put in place to enable homeowners to build or alter their own homes following some intense lobbying to protect the DIY tradition in New Zealand.

Sections 90A to 90D were inserted into the Building Act 2004 on 13 March 2012 and introduced the owner-builder concept which allowed the tradition to continue, but with conditions. A homeowner who qualifies for this exemption does not need to use a Licensed Building Practitioner (LBP) for any restricted building work on their home, but they still need to apply for a building consent.


To qualify for the owner-builder exemption, the owner of a building must: 

  • live, or intend to live in the home (this includes a bach/ crib or a holiday home)
  • carry out the restricted building work themselves or with the help of unpaid friends or whānau
  • not have used the owner-builder exemption to carry out restricted building work to any other home in the previous 3 years.

The owner must give notice to the council

The Owner is required to complete the statutory declaration form as part of the building consent application to obtain an owner-builder exemption, outlining what restricted building work they intend to complete under the owner-builder exemption. The owner must give notice to the building consent authority if there is a change in the owner-builder carrying out the restricted building work or when the owner-builder ceases to carry out the restricted building work under the approved exemption.


Restricted building work 

An owner-builder will be responsible for ensuring that restricted building work carried out under the owner-builder exemption complies with the building consent and the plans and specifications to which the building consent relates. The building consent authority will still carry out the normal building inspections. Any restricted building work that is not done by the ownerbuilder or their unpaid friends or whānau must be carried out by an LBP who holds the appropriate licence. The LBP must provide a Record of Work once that work is completed. The owner-builder may also hire a designer to draw their plans, and the designer will need to provide a Certificate of Work. There is some specialised work that the owner-builder cannot carry out including plumbing, gas-fitting, drain-laying, and electrical work.

To qualify the owner must: live, or intend to live in the home carry out the restricted building work themselves not have used the ownerbuilder exemption in the previous 3 years

The council will record the building work and who carried it out on the property land information memorandum (LIM). Any future buyers will have access to this information showing whether it was carried out as a do-it-yourself project by the owner or done by an LBP.


How the owner-builder exemption applies to LBPs with trade or design licenses

Given the requirement that any person who assists the owner must do so without payment and on the basis that they are friends or whānau, an LBP hired by the owner does not come within the owner-builder exemption. It follows that an LBP who carries out Restricted Building Work (RBW) in relation to an owner-builder exemption for reward must provide a record of work for any RBW they carry out or supervise. An LBP should also take care when being engaged to carry out RBW on a building consent that has been issued under an owner-builder exemption that they do not, unwittingly, breach the building consent that has been issued. In this respect, an LBP should also note the provisions of section 89 of the Act which requires them to notify the building consent authority of a breach of the building consent.


The LBP code of ethics

The code of ethics applies to LBPs carrying out any building work whether it’s restricted building work or not, and therefore applies when you’ve been engaged by an owner who is carrying out work under the owner-builder exemption. If you are on-site as an LBP, be mindful of the behaviours expected of an LBP, and what RBW you are allowed to carry out or supervise under your licence. If, for instance, your licence is in roofing and there is someone on-site carrying out blockwork which is RBW, make sure that you have made the owner aware that you cannot supervise that blockwork as it is outside your licence class. However, if the owner is helping you put the roof on, then you must ensure they’re doing the work correctly and you will need to show on your record of work that you were supervising them. Knowing what work you’re allowed to do is just one part of the code of ethics – the other 18 standards will also apply to at least some extent while working on the above project, just as they do while you’re undertaking any building work under your licence. You can find out more about the LBP code of ethics on the LBP website, see link below.


The Site licence holder

The above does not apply to an LBP who is licensed in the Site licence class. The site licence holder would not be able to work for payment on a project under the owner-builder exemption as they are not able to carry out or supervise restricted building work. They may only work as an unpaid friend or family member and would be under the supervision of the owner-builder. More information on the obligations and responsibilities of owner-builders and their building project can be found on the Building Performance website, see link below.


For more information & resources, visit

Related articles