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Rules/limitations/gotchas on the re-sale of a homebuilt?

What are the restrictions, in various countries?

The normal rule is that the builder needs to build 51% of it. Obviously this figure is sometimes adhered to in name only but that’s not what I am asking about.

What about selling it afterwards, and the next owner’s privileges?

Specifically are the maintenance privileges the same? I read somewhere of a scenario where the second (or further) owner has limited privileges and e.g. has to use a Part M company for some of the larger work.

There has to be some “catch” otherwise there would be a nice business for people building these things serially, for sale. It is supposed to take x thousand hours to build one (which may be designed to make such a business uneconomical) but if you are building several at the same time and are properly geared up for it, with the proper production tools, and there are two of you, you could do it in 1/10 of the time. I am sure the RV series especially would sell very nicely if ready-built, because they fly nicely with no weird handling issues.

Is there some “police” who keep an eye out for adverts repeatedly by the same “homebuilder” and try to harrass him? It would have to be something informal like that because nothing actually stops somebody building one, selling it, and doing it again, a number of times before he dies of old age.

I guess the FAA regs might be the most relaxed but an N-reg homebuilt is near-useless in Europe, due to long term residence limits (28 days in the UK, IIRC) which require the owners to stay below the radar, both literally and figuratively. And EASA regs are of no help because these are non EASA types.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

This must be answered by national regulations, and both the writing and the application of national rules may vary widely. I think the basic idea would be that the new country of reg wants to ascertain the build is up to their standards. To what degree they’ll base that judgement on the earlier approvals is anyone’s guess, but I reckon one could always ask. Most CAA’s will be difficult, though, I’m afraid. My own certainly would, they’re difficult on most certification matters.

The French experimental register (Fox Papa) might be the least hard, perhaps. But the Paris officials will not much like the idea of a foreign built experimental.

EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

I was not particularly thinking of selling it to another country, but that is indeed an additional angle which might have curious effects on homebuilt resale value because the export market is to some degree unavailable.

I heard that some require a 51% dismantling (whatever that means) before accepting a homebuilt into their reg. That is just ridiculous.

It would be good to hear from homebuilders around Europe, and others who know the regs, what their national regs are. Yes the regs will be buried in national legislation, so virtually impossible to dig out with google.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

Selling a homebuilt within the country of current registry ought to be rather painless, the national homologation having been achieved.
OTOH if a fresh inspection is required, dismantling to a serious degree would be unavoidable (“incontournable”) anyway.

Last Edited by at 09 Apr 13:26
EBZH Kiewit, Belgium

It would also depend on what the aircraft is. Homebuilds are usually light and, if I’m not mistaken, at least in some countries they don’t fall under NAA, but under a separate organization that deals with light/ sport aircraft and licences.

Last Edited by Martin at 09 Apr 13:32

This is obviously different from country to country, but anyway. First, there really are no “catches” and stuff like that. In the eyes of the (local) CAA, a homebuilt is just like any other aircraft, only it is built using non-certified methods and components. The exception is for commercial activities. A homebuilt may never be used for commercial flying operations including training (There are some exceptions to this exception as well, but none that has any commercial significance). Not to be confused with microlight homebuilt, they have their own sets of rules in Norway outside of the CAA.

Selling and purchasing homebuilt is done with no restrictions. In principle anyone can start their own little “factory”. Some does, but unless you have some skilled slaves working for you, there is no chance it will be anything but a hobby. A self paying hobby at best. Even so, Vans produce and sell ready to fly LSA RV-12, they cost what? 150k-200k?

Again, the CAA does not care about this – at all. The only thing they care about is each aircraft has to be airworthy and kept airworthy and it cannot be used commercially.

Maintenance can be done by any owner/user, but “yearly” must be signed off by a licensed mechanic or someone with special permission. Special permission is granted to the builder after a theoretical course and having participated a couple of times with a licensed mechanic/shop or someone with special permission. This gives you the right to sign off a “yearly” on that particular aircraft (the one you have built), but not automatically any other even if they are identical. This means of course that the previous owner can continue signing off the papers, but it also means that a new owner will not in general receive a special permission to do so. Larger (later) modifications can only be done based on the same rules, but you can also do it after filing an application and then the aircraft basically start from scratch again, and you can become the “builder” after new test flights. (There really is no rule saying the mechanic/shop is to be licensed/certified, but a licensed shop/mechanic will always do, and any other must show they qualify and be approved. Building the aircraft goes a long way to be qualified, but not all the way)

Each new homebuilt has to be test flown min 25 hours, and for larger modifications as prescribed by the CAA. You can do it all by yourself or “hire” someone to do it with you or all of it.

Importing a homebuilt is probably even more different from country to country. In Norway airworthiness of a homebuilt is tied to inspections by an inspector appointed by the CAA during the build (the inspector can be anyone with the right qualifications, even a previous builder). Importing from countries with similar rules is unproblematic I belive?, but the USA is more problematic unless detailed log with pictures exists for them to examine.

There are no special rules for N-reg homebuilts in Norway, but an N-reg is not part of ECAC, so a special permission to fly it here is needed. Besides that I guess it will be handled like any other N-reg (max one year limit). Why would you want an N-reg homebuilt in the first place?

This means of course that the previous owner can continue signing off the papers, but it also means that a new owner will not in general receive a special permission to do so. Larger (later) modifications can only be done based on the same rules, but you can also do it after filing an application and then the aircraft basically start from scratch again, and you can become the “builder” after new test flights.

That is an interesting bit.

It means the previous owner can continue to sign off your aircraft, presumably for a fee, but he has you somewhat over a barrel unless you have a route to becoming a new “builder” without him being able to block you doing that.

What is involved in becoming a new “builder” typically? It seems a practical requirement otherwise certain maintenance cannot be done anymore without using a company.

But what the exporting country bans the non-builder owner from doing may not be the same as the importing country bans the non-builder owner from doing. So e.g. if you bought a D-reg plane (and D ban the non-builder owner from changing the engine or prop) and imported it on the G-reg (and G ban the non-builder owner from changing the engine but allow him to change the prop) it gets interesting…

Why would you want an N-reg homebuilt in the first place?

Buying a homebuilt from the USA, which will always be N-reg initially.

Let’s say you are after a Lancair Evolution TP. Your options of buying one anywhere in Europe are close to zero (and even then you have the export issue with possibly having to dismantle it 51% or whatever).

Of course ideally it would stay N-reg but that is IMHO never going to be possible because it would open the doors to all kinds of homebuilts which they Europeans don’t want to see here. Some of the US Experimental scene is just “too experimental”… they are death traps, which is fine if appropriate operating conditions are applied.

There is so little info written on this stuff. It is very interesting to hear about it here.

Administrator
Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

In the UK the LAA allows owner maintenance regardless of who built it; the original builder could even have been say De Havilland at their factory, there are lots of factory built Cubs and Moths etc on LAA permits.

It would not surprise me if some builders build to sell, but as was said earlier the market price of aircraft naturally limits any possibility of making money from the build process to zero, so they are doing it for the love.

Certainly, within the UK, LAA homebuilt and other permit aircraft enjoy a thriving market with no restrictions on subsequent owner privileges for maintenance. The control is in fact implicit with the independent signature of the LAA inspector.

Darley Moor, Gamston (UK)

it would stay N-reg but that is IMHO never going to be possible because it would open the doors to all kinds of homebuilts

That doesn’t seem to be true. Red Bulls BeDe-5 was N reg (N53EJ) and operating in europe. But then again Mr. Mateschitz has enough money to, shall we say, convince the authorities.

Last Edited by tomjnx at 09 Apr 14:46
LSZK, Switzerland

It seems a practical requirement otherwise certain maintenance cannot be done anymore without using a company.

What would this “certain maintenance” be? Certified freelance mechanic should suffice (for the things owner can’t do).

Of course ideally it would stay N-reg but that is IMHO never going to be possible because it would open the doors to all kinds of homebuilts which they Europeans don’t want to see here.

You can still buy the kit and build it here, right? So what is the difference? It should be possible, it just might cost more time and money than you’re willing to invest.

Last Edited by Martin at 09 Apr 14:48
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