Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia?


Key Takeaways:

  • An owner-builder buys land and builds a property
  • A construction loan is perfect for owner-builders
  • Australian Expats returning home can apply for an owner-builder home loan
  • You must intend to live in the property once it is complete
  • Foreigners in Australia must apply to the FIRB before purchasing land or property
  • Foreigners can apply for home loans at higher interest rates

Do you want to join the 500,000 Expats moving back home to Australia? Stepping out of the ashes of the global pandemic, Expats are re-evaluating what is important to them and coming home is top of the list!

Purchasing land and building a brand new home is an appealing dream for Expats who have missed the chirping crickets. Becoming an owner-builder may be the necessary step to enable your dream to meet fruition!

Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia

What Is an Owner Builder?

An owner-builder is an individual who builds a property on their land, rebutting the services of a construction team. You must intend to live inside of the property, and you cannot build another house within a 5 year period.

What Is the Owner Builder Eligibility Criteria?

An owner builder must meet an eligibility criteria, set by the Building Act 1993, Section 25E:

Owner Builder Eligibility

  • You must own the land
  • You are building/renovating a single domestic dwelling
  • You intend to live in the property
  • You are not a builder by trade
  • You have completed any necessary training
  • You have not been an owner-builder in the past 5 years
  • You have never been an owner builder without relevant insurance
  • You are not intending to carry out demolition work, re-stumping, or sub-floor work

How Can I Be an Owner Builder?

You will need to meet the owner-builder eligibility and successfully secure a permit and pay any levy. You must apply for a permit from the state or territory you want to build in.

You must evidence

  • Your experience and qualifications to complete the build.
  • You have completed any relevant training online or at TAFE.
  • You have a white card/construction training card for on-site health and safety.
  • You can prove your own the land.
  • Your plans have been approved.
  • All insurances have been taken out.
  • All work will meet the required building standards.
Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Can Owner Builders Employ Tradespeople to Complete Work?

You can seek the services of tradespeople to complete some of the work on your home build. However, they cannot complete all of the work, otherwise, you will not be an owner-builder. 

If the work you are contracting a tradesperson to complete is worth over $10,000, you will need to complete a major domestic building contract.

An important service to acquire is the skills of a building surveyor. The building surveyor must be fully registered and they should assess your plans and oversee your building project.

What Types of Projects Can an Owner Builder Complete?

An owner-builder can only work on a single dwelling for domestic purposes. Most commonly, an owner-builder will build a completely new property on a block of land. However, you can also make alterations or additions to an existing property.

You cannot demolish a property as an owner-builder, however. Only building experts who are fully registered in this field can perform demolitions. This is also true for completing any subfloor work, or re-stumping. 

When applying for your permit, you must make clear the type of project you are completing. 

If you are completing work on the property under the value of $16,000, you do not need to seek owner-builder approval. This includes materials and labour applicable to the work completed.

Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia?

What Is the Process for an Owner Builder Application?

Now is the perfect time to buy property in Australia! Follow this process when applying to be an owner-builder:

1. Assess your owner-builder eligibility   

2.   Read all information applicable to your state or territory

3.  Complete any online training required

4.  Complete training to acquire a white card

5.  Begin an application with your state or territory

6.  Submit any evidence to support your application

7.  Pay any fee required

You must prove your identity, prove your ownership of the land, and submit approved plans.

Can an Australian Expat Be an Owner Builder?

If you still hold Australian citizenship or permanent residency, you can apply to be an owner-builder if you live overseas. 

The process is similar to the owner-builder process for Australian residents. However, it may take longer if you are not in the country to oversee your application.

Can Australian Expats Apply for Owner Builder Home Loans?

Yes, Odin Mortgage can find you the perfect owner-builder home loan for Expats. You will need to apply for a construction loan which is tailored to land and build packages. 

We have a vast array of Australian Expat home loans and will find you the best match!

What is a Construction Loan?

A construction loan enables an owner-builder to receive a chunk of money at each stage of the building project. Once the construction loan has been approved, you can rely on each installment being released at the necessary stage.

The owner-builder must provide evidence to the lender that each stage of the project has been met fully. The lender will then release the next installment of the building funds.

Typically, the five stages of a home building project are

  1. Foundations
  2. Exterior
  3. Lock-up
  4. Fit-out
  5. Complete
Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia?

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

What Extra Evidence Does an Owner Builder Need for a Construction Loan?

An owner-builder must show the lender council-approved plans of the build and reports from your quantity surveyor.

In addition, a breakdown of the project costs must be provided, along with public liability insurance and risk insurance.

Standard home loan evidence must also be submitted, evidencing income, assets, liability, and identity.

Review our checklist to see what evidence you need for an owner-builder construction loan:

Construction Loan Checklist

  • Prove identity
  • Evidence all income
  • Evidence assets such as savings and other property
  • Evidence liabilities such as previous debts
  • Submit council-approved building plans
  • Submit quantity surveyor reports
  • Evidence all necessary insurances
  • Break down all costs such as quotes and payment schedule

How Much Can an Australian Expat Borrow?

An Australian Expat living overseas can borrow as much as any other Australian citizen or permanent resident. Ultimately, it will depend on your income and your credit history to determine how much you can borrow. 

Odin Mortgage can tailor specialist broker advice for you to purchase a home as an Expat. Our expert brokers can also help you to refinance existing property as an Expat if you need to access equity.

However, some lenders may borrow a less amount of money for owner-builders, due to the higher risk involved. What if you do not complete the build? What if the costs spiral and cost much more than anticipated? This assumption is made whether you are an Expat or a resident of Australia.

As a higher risk, a construction loan may only be granted up to 70% of the property’s value. You would, therefore, need to provide the remaining money yourself as a substantial deposit. 

The amount a lender will grant for a construction loan does rise, however, if the owner-builder is qualified in construction. Discover our top financial tips for returning Expats at Odin Mortgage!

Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

How Can I Apply for an Owner Builder Home Loan as an Expat?

The easiest way to apply for an owner-builder home loan is to contact Odin Mortgage and speak to a broker professional. Our expert brokers will search for the best owner-builder home loans available for you and your own unique circumstances.

You can view the latest mortgage rates available from CBA, ANZ, NAB, and Westpac as an owner-occupier or investor.

To apply for an owner-builder home loan, you must effectively plan and research prior to making your application.


What are your aims? As an Australian Expat, are you hoping in to move back to Australia? Remember that an owner-builder must intend to live inside the property once it is completed. You cannot be an owner-builder if you are making a sole investment.

What state or territory do you want to buy land in? Are you moving back to your home state or territory, or are you looking for land with great growth potential? Research local areas and local property prices, particularly if you are new to the state or territory.


You must work out how much you can comfortably afford as a deposit and as a monthly repayment. Remember to include other costs such as stamp duty and legal costs when working out affordability.

Your lender will assess whether they think you can afford the home loan. It is also important that you do not stretch your finances too far, leaving room for contingencies. 

Contact an Odin Mortgage Broker

Once you have decided what it is you want to do and how much you can afford, contact Odin Mortgage. Our expert brokers will ensure that every box is ticked for Expats when applying for an owner-builder home loan.

With dozens of lenders available, our professionals will tailor your perfect deal to meet your circumstances. Holding an Australian Credit Licence, you can trust our advice. We will join you every step of the way to loan completion.

Discover exactly what a mortgage broker can do for Expats at Odin Mortgage!

Find a Conveyancer

A conveyancer is required to ensure all legal boxes are ticked during your purchase. They will complete searches, take care of ownership transfer, and check your contract.

Ensure that the conveyancer you choose is from the same state or territory as your land or property purchase. This is due to different licenses being required across states and territories.

Find an Accountant

It is a good idea to employ the services of an accountant when you are an Expat overseas. An accountant will check Australian tax legislation for you and make you aware of any other factors affecting your situation.

Do You Need a Buyer’s Agent?

A buyer’s agent is great for Expats currently living overseas. They will be your eyes on the ground to find land or property and negotiate a perfect property price. 

Your fully licensed buyer’s agent will look for new opportunities for you as they arise and work with real estate agents.

Home Loan Pre-Approval

Applying for a home loan pre-approval enables you to secure an advantage over other home buyers. You will need to prove your income, your assets, your liabilities, and your identity.

Odin Mortgage will help you understand how much you can borrow and your loan eligibility. 

Mortgage Application

Odin Mortgage brokers will continue your mortgage application, tailored to the Australian Expat. As you hold Australian citizenship or permanent residency, great mortgage deals will be available to you.

Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia

Find Your Land or Property

For owner builders looking to purchase land and build a home, finding the best block of land is vitally important. As well as a great location, check the content of the land, its slope, and any hidden problems below ground. 

Also, assess any flooding or bushfire risks before taking your interest any further. Some lenders may not approve land that is at a high risk to floods or fires. You will then need to negotiate a purchase price with the seller!

Formally Approve Your Mortgage

Once you have found your land or property and negotiated a price, your mortgage approval will be formally approved. You will need to exchange contracts and then pay your deposit.

You usually have several months after completion to pay your stamp duty fee, although this varies from state to state. Discover how much stamp duty you will need to pay with our Stamp Duty Calculator!

Get a free Australian mortgage assessment today.

Apply online to get a free recommendation with real rates and repayments.

Can Foreign Expats Living in Australia Be an Owner Builder?

Foreign Expats living in Australia can become owner-builders although there are additional requirements to meet. It is still possible to purchase property as a foreigner in Australia, however!

If you do not yet hold permanent residency, you will need to apply to the Foreign Investment Review Board. The FIRB will assess your application and you will need to pay a substantial fee to apply.

The FIRB fee begins at $5,800 for land or property valued at $1,000,000 or less. Although, the fee increases substantially in line with the land or property value.

Failing to gain approval from the FIRB is a serious breach. It may result in a fine of up to $135,000, and/or up to 10 years imprisonment.

You may face some restrictions, such as only being able to purchase vacant land or new build property. You can build your own property as long as you intend to live in the property afterward. 

Otherwise, you can only buy an established dwelling as a temporary resident which must be sold when you leave Australia. 

Once you have approval from the FIRB, the home buying process is very similar. However, you may be subjected to higher interest rates due to your status. 

However, you may need to pay Foreign Stamp Duty Surcharge at a rate of 7% – 8% of the property value. This is on top of the standard stamp duty charge.

Odin Mortgage brokers are Expat experts who can help you with your home loan purchase. Review Odin Mortgage’s FAQs to find out how we can help you!

Contact Odin Mortgage for Owner Builder Home Loans for Expats

Whatever your situation, Odin Mortgage brokers are experts in helping an Expat secure the best loan deal available. 

Find out today how much you could borrow by using our Borrowing Power Calculator! You can also discover your repayment schedule with our Australia Mortgage Calculator.

Are Owner Builder Home Loans Available to Expats in Australia

Frequently Asked Questions

What is an owner builder loan?

An owner builder loan is a construction loan for a house and land package. Once full loan approval is achieved, owner builder loans will determine installments for each stage of the build. 

Lenders will release each installment for owner builder finance when they receive evidence that the last stage is complete.

Can Expats apply for owner builder loans?

Australian citizens and permanent residents can apply for construction loans, regardless of the country they live in. 

However, an owner-builder must intend to live on the property eventually. This is usually once the construction is complete, not at the loan-approved stage.

Can foreigners purchase property in Australia?

Yes, foreigners can purchase property in Australia, although there are extra requirements. You must apply to the FIRB to ask for permission to buy property in Australia. You will also be subject to a foreign stamp duty surcharge if successful in your purchase. 

Additionally, remember that all foreign income must be evidenced and foreign currency converted to Australian dollars. 

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