Implied warranties and domestic building insurance - checklist

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  • Your building contract should identify your warranty rights, whether it is a major domestic building contract or not (view our Building contracts checklist page)
  • Registered builders and tradespeople must have domestic building insurance for all work over $16,000 (to cover you if they die, become insolvent or disappear) – this is in addition to the builder’s contractual obligations and warranties
  • Your builder or tradesperson must provide you with a copy of the policy and a certificate of insurance before you pay a deposit
  • Before work starts, check with your home and contents policy insurer that you are covered for the renovations – you may need extra cover
  • Ask your builder for a copy of their current certificate of public liability insurance

Implied warranties and consumer guarantees

The law requires a builder to meet certain obligations when they do building work.

These are called 'warranties' in the Domestic Building Contracts Act 1995, and ‘consumer guarantees’ in the Australian Consumer Law. You have rights under both laws.

For information about your rights under the Australian Consumer Law, view our Consumer guarantees that apply automatically page.

Consumer guarantees and implied warranties apply by law and cannot be signed away.

Warranties under building law

Builders and tradespeople must honour the implied warranties in the Domestic Building Contracts Act, which require that they:

  • carry out the work in a proper and workmanlike manner, in accordance with the plans and specifications set out in the contract
  • ensure all materials supplied are good and suitable for the purpose and are new, unless otherwise stated in the contract
  • carry out the work in accordance with all laws and legal requirements
  • carry out the work with reasonable care and skill and complete works by the date (or within the period) specified by the contract
  • ensure new homes, extensions, renovations, repairs and kit homes (or similar) are suitable for occupation when completed
  • ensure other types of work and the material used are reasonably fit for the intended purpose.

Implied warranties automatically apply to all domestic building work, regardless of the cost or whether or not there is a written contract.

These warranties transfer to a new owner for up to 10 years from completion of the work.

This right transfers to a new owner if the property is sold within this time. Seek legal advice for more information, including if the building work is older than 10 years.

Domestic building insurance

By law, builders or tradespeople must take out domestic building insurance for their clients when the cost of the works exceeds $16,000.

This insurance only gives you limited cover.

Domestic building insurance, previously known as ‘builders warranty insurance’, protects consumers in the event their builder or tradesperson cannot finish the building project or fix defects because they have:

  • died
  • become insolvent, or
  • disappeared.

If your policy was issued on or after 1 July 2015, it also provides cover if the builder fails to comply with a final order made by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT) or a court.

Your builder or tradesperson must provide you with a copy of the policy and a certificate of insurance covering your property before you pay a deposit or any other money.

Domestic building insurance covers costs up to $300,000 to fix structural defects for six years, and non-structural defects for two years. Claims on the policy for work that was not completed may be limited to only 20 per cent of the contract price.

In all other cases, your builder or tradesperson is required to fix or complete works in accordance with the contract.