Q: We are looking to undertake renovations on our house in the next few months. Could you please explain how the recently announced Federal Government Homebuilder grant program will operate and the eligibility criteria.

A: On the 4 June, the Federal Government announced the commencement of a new programme called “HomeBuilder” that 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. Construction must commence within three months of the contract date.

The “HomeBuilder” grant is available in addition to the existing State and Territory First Home Owner Grant programs, stamp duty concessions and other grant schemes, as well as the Commonwealth’s First Home Loan Deposit Scheme and First Home Super Saver Scheme.

To be eligible for a grant, you must meet the following eligibility criteria. You must be an Australian citizen aged 18 or older. Your income must be below $125,000 p.a for an individual applicant or $200,000 p.a for a couple based on your latest tax return (either 2018-19 or 2019-20). The home must be used as your principal place of residence and the new or renovated dwelling cannot be intended for use as an investment property.

The program is only available to individuals and is not available to companies or trusts or Self-Managed Super funds. The construction or renovation contract must be signed with a licensed builder and owner builders are ineligible to apply.

If you are looking to build a new home, the completed value of the new build including land and building cannot exceed $750,000. This criteria also applies where vacant land is purchased either before or after 4 June 2020, with a contract to build entered into after this date.

If you are renovating an existing property, the works must be substantial renovations with a commercial contract price between $150,000 and $750,000. Renovations include where a property is already owned and a knock down rebuild is completed where the new build cost is no more than $750,000. The pre-renovation value of the property must not exceed $1.5 million

Renovations must improve accessibility, safety or liveability for the occupants but cannot include additions such as swimming pools, spas, sheds or stand-alone garages.

To apply for the grant you will be required to provide; proof of identity, a copy of a signed and dated contract, a copy of your builder’s registration or licence, a copy of your latest tax return (either 2018/19 or 2019/20), and other documents such as Council approval, contracts, occupation certificates and a property valuation.

Information on when and how you will be able to access HomeBuilder will become available through your relevant State or Territory revenue office. States and Territories will backdate acceptance of HomeBuilder applications to 4 June 2020 once the National Partnership Agreement is signed with the Commonwealth Government.