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If you are building a new home, or intend to renovate your house or add an extension, you may need:
- a builder
- a quantity surveyor
- a tradesperson
- a demolisher
- a building surveyor
- a draftsperson
- an architect
- an engineer.
Some people refer to these as 'building contractors', but under Victorian law they are all building practitioners. They must:
- use a major domestic building contract for all work worth more than $5,000, including renovations, extensions and repairs
- take out domestic building insurance for work worth more than $16,000, to cover you if they die, disappear or become insolvent. They must give you a certificate of currency for the insurance before they take a deposit and start to build a house, extend or renovate an existing home, or carry out maintenance
- be registered with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) to carry out work worth more than $5,000, except for work involving only one of the following:
- tiling (wall and floor)
- electrical work
- plumbing, gas-fitting and draining
- installing floor coverings
- attaching external fixtures (awnings, security screens, insect screens and balustrades)
- erecting a chain wire fence around a tennis court
- erecting a mast, pole, antenna, aerial or similar structure.
A person must be registered if they are:
- using a combination of skills, such as plastering and painting, to complete a renovation, extension, repairs or any other job
- going to do work that requires a building permit - for example, reblock, restump, demolish or remove a home, regardless of the value of this work.
For more information on building practitioners, visit the Building for consumers section on the VBA website.
Tradespeople - registered and licensed
If your builder or tradesperson carries out work worth more than $5,000, they must be registered with the VBA. This includes carpenters, bricklayers and concreters.
For work worth up to $5,000 view our Home improvement projects section (below).
Plumbers, gasfitters and drainers:
- are registered or licensed with the VBA and carry an identification card. The VBA replaced the Plumbing Industry Commission on 1 July 2013.
- for all work valued at $750 or more, the plumber must give you a compliance certificate. This certifies that the work complies with the law.
- are licensed by Energy Safe Victoria; see their website for information about what an electrician must provide to you when carrying out work.
- whenever a licensed electrician completes any electrical installation work, they must give you a Certificate of Electrical Safety. These are only available from qualified electrical workers registered or licensed with Energy Safe Victoria.
Check if a builder is registered
To check if a builder is registered, visit the Find a registered building practitioner page on the VBA website.
Misconduct by builders
Information on the Practitioner Disciplinary Register may help you when deciding whether to engage a builder. Visit the Practitioner Disciplinary Register page on the VBA website.
Check if a builder is eligible for domestic building insurance
To check if a builder is eligible for domestic building insurance, use the Builder Search on the Victorian Managed Insurance Authority website.
Home improvement projects
Engaging tradespeople for home improvement projects
If you plan to engage a builder or tradesperson to do small projects, such as the following, you should check their credentials and take time and care before deciding who to employ:
- installing a solar electricity system
- roofing and roof cladding
- fencing and gates
- driveway repairs
- replacing windows and doors
- tiling floors and walls
We recommend you:
- shop around for the quote that is right for you
- only use established tradespeople who provide written quotes
- ask for contact details of previous clients for references
- do not sign any agreement until you are clear about the contract terms and your obligations.
For more information, view our Getting quotes for building and renovating page.
Re-coating the surface of a roof can improve its appearance. However, this type of work has attracted some unethical operators in the past. Before you engage someone to re-coat your roof, check they have a legitimate business name and address, and avoid paying them an excessive deposit (generally, not more than 10 per cent).
Solar electricity systems
For information on buying a solar electricity system, view our Solar energy page.
Australian standards for home improvement work
Australian standards apply to:
- tiling (wall and floor)
Before you engage someone to do any of these jobs, ask whether they:
- will carry out the work according to the appropriate Australian standard
- have a qualification and relevant experience
- are a member of a relevant industry association. Although this is not mandatory, it will give you an indication of the person's level of expertise in their field.
For more information on Australian standards, visit the Standards Australia website.
If you are looking at a display home (even if it is the builder's own home), view our Managing building project costs page.
For checklists to help with your project, view our Checklists for building or renovating section.