New HomeBuilder Scheme

The new HomeBuilder Scheme will provide eligible owner-occupiers (including first home buyers) with a grant of $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home where the contract is signed between 4 June 2020 and 31 December 2020.

What is the HomeBuilder scheme?

The $688-million HomeBuilder package was launched to drive economic activity across the residential construction sector.

The HomeBuilder package will offer $25,000 grants to Australians who wish to build a new house up to $750,000 or undertake a major renovation that costs a minimum of $150,000.

The renovations need to be valued between $150,000 and $750,000, and the dwelling value cannot exceed $1.5 million before the new work commences.

Who Is Eligible?

To be eligible for the scheme, you need to be an owner-occupier, building or renovating a home and meet the following criteria:

  • You are an Australian citizen aged 18 or over, you can’t access it through a company or trust
  • Your annual income needs to be less than $125,000 for individual applicants, or less than $200,000 for a couple based on your 2018-19 tax returns or later.

What can be done? Does my project qualify?

For renovations:

  • If you are renovating, you need to be spending more than $150,000.
  • If you are renovating an existing property it needs to be valued at less than the national price cap of $1.5 million.

The works must be completed by a currently registered or licensed builder – so you will not be able to get a friend or individually employ tradespeople to complete the renovations

The building works must improve the liveability, accessibility or safety of your home. Things such as pools, outdoor spas and saunas, tennis courts, sheds or garages are not eligible for the grant.

There are three types of categorised renovations for strata homes:

  • Cosmetic work
  • Minor renovations, or
  • Major renovations.

Cosmetic work:

Owners can do cosmetic work without approval. This includes day-to-day work such as:

  • Installing or replacing hooks, nails or screws for hanging paintings or other things on walls
  • Installing or replacing handrails within your lot
  • Interior painting
  • Filling minor holes and cracks in internal walls.

The owners corporation can declare other types of work as ‘cosmetic’ if they pass a by-law.

Minor renovations:

Owners need approval, over 50 percent of the votes in favour, before doing any minor renovations.

Minor renovations include:

  • Renovating a kitchen
  • Changing recessed light fittings
  • Installing or replacing wood or other hard floors
  • Changing internal walls
  • Sustainability measures (such as a clothesline or reverse cycle air conditioner). However, these cannot involve changing the outside appearance of a lot or structural changes.

The approval process may need the owner to give details of the work. This may include:

  • Any plans of the work
  • When the work will be carried out (times and dates)
  • Qualifications and details of the tradespeople who will do the work.

Speeding up the approval process:

The owners corporation can pass a by-law which allows the strata committee to approve minor renovations.

The owners corporation can also pass a by-law to define other kinds of work as minor renovations.

Major renovations:

Major renovations include:

  • Structural changes
  • Waterproofing
  • Changes affecting the outside appearance of the property, such as an access ramp
  • Work that needs approval under other laws (for example, council approval).

Approval for major renovations:

The work needs a special resolution vote. Then the owner must give the owners corporation at least 14 days written notice before the work starts. This should describe the proposed alteration.

The owners corporation cannot delegate approval for major renovations to the strata committee.

If you’re wondering whether you can take advantage of the government’s HomeBuilder renovation grant to improve your property, you will need to be contracting work costing between $150,000 and $750,000 – so only ‘major’ renovations will seem to count in this instance.

How can I access HomeBuilder?

To be eligible for the $25,000 grant you must enter into a building contract between June 4, 2020 and December 31, 2020.

The acceptance date of applications will be backdated to June 4.

What documents will I need?

To apply you will need the following:

  • Proof of identity.
  • A copy of the contract dated and signed by the applicant and the nominated registered or licensed builder.
  • A copy of your builder’s registration or license, depending on state or territory requirements.
  • A copy of your 2018-19 tax return or later to illustrate your eligibility under the income cap.
  • Documents such as council development approvals, building contracts, occupation certificates and evidence of land value.

Can I combine HomeBuilder with other Government grants?

Yes, you can.

Revenue NSW is working to open the HomeBuilder grant for eligible NSW owner-occupiers as soon as possible.

Strata Property Issues

Renovating in a strata scheme:

The HomeBuilder grant is available to strata property owners wishing to undertake renovations that cost a minimum of $150,000.

However, before you start work on that new bathroom or kitchen, strata property owners need to understand their rights and responsibilities regarding renovating their lot.

Many owners corporations will have similar by-laws in relation to “alterations to a lot”. The by-laws generally require an owner to submit a written request to the owners corporation for approval.

Always check the by-laws in your strata scheme for any mention of needing to seek permission for improvements or renovations and consider whether your changes are structural or could affect common property.

Improvements such as putting in a hard floor (timber or tiling) is often subject to by-laws, and realistically any renovations exceeding costs of $150,000 will most likely need approval.

If you are unsure about the need to apply for approval you should contact your building manager.

In any case you should also notify the committee and other residents to notify them of potential noise issues during renovations and the ongoing presence (including parking or access required) of tradespeople on the property.

All substantial changes or upgrades to a lot or to the common property should be recorded for insurance purposes.

Proper communication that keeps everyone up-to-date and informed will promote greater cooperation between resident and ultimately a stronger and happier strata community