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Selecting a tradesperson or builder 

Do a free licence check

You should always check your tradesperson holds a valid licence before you hire. Go to our Home building licence check page or call 13 32 20 to do a free licence check.

By law, all builders and tradespeople must display their licence number on any advertisement for their services.

Choosing a builder or tradesperson 

Only a builder or trader who is properly trained and has the relevant experience to do the work may be licensed with NSW Fair Trading. Any person who carries out residential building work over $5,000 in labour and materials without an appropriate licence is breaking the law and could be prosecuted.

Specialist tradespeople who carry out any of the following must be licensed regardless of the cost of the work:

  • electrical wiring
  • plumbing, draining and gasfitting work
  • air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances).

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The right tradesperson holds the right licence 

The golden rule is that you should always check your tradesperson holds the right licence for the job.

Licensing protects you in the following ways:

  • you deal with a legitimate business
  • the tradesperson has the right qualifications for the job
  • you enjoy better consumer protection
  • you help to keep the shonks out

Fair Trading research into licensing reveals that some consumers are at risk because they do not actively check that a tradesperson is licensed before they hire. The research shows that 80% of home owners think licensing is important, but only one in ten go to the Fair Trading’s website to check if a tradesperson is licensed or not.

Read more about Fair Trading’s licensing research findings.

Do a free home building licence check.

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Why are some licensed contractors limited to contracts that do not require cover under the Home Building Compensation Scheme? 

Some contractors may have a condition on their licence that limits them to building work that does not require cover under the Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme. This means the contractor is not eligible for HBC cover and cannot do residential home building work of three storeys or less with a value of more than $20,000.

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What does a builder do? 

Many builders today do not do actual building work themselves. Builders or building contractors:

  • manage and coordinate home building or renovation projects
  • manage the purchase and delivery of materials
  • coordinate the work of tradespeople such as plumbers, painters and carpenters involved in the project.

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What does a tradesperson do? 

A tradesperson has a current licence from NSW Fair Trading to carry out work in a particular field in the home building industry in NSW.

The term tradesperson includes all licensed:

  • concreters
  • bricklayers
  • carpenters
  • electricians
  • plumbers
  • roof tilers
  • plasterers
  • tilers
  • painters
  • fencers
  • gasfitters.

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Do you need a builder or tradesperson? 

If you want your gutters replaced or your plumbing fixed, you need a tradesperson.

If you want to add another bedroom or build a new home, you need a builder to organise the right tradespeople to do the work.

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What does a supervisor do? 

A supervisor is an individual who is responsible for supervising the work under a building contract on behalf of a contracting company or partnership.

The supervisor may hold either a qualified supervisors certificate or a contractor licence.

Qualified Supervisors Certificate

This certifies that the supervisor is qualified to supervise but not to enter into contracts under this certificate.

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What if the supervisor is an architect? 

Where an architect or other person (not being the building contractor) has been contracted separately to supervise the work of the builder, the roles and responsibilities of that person should be clearly defined in an appropriate contract separate from the building contract.

This is to ensure there is no confusion about what someone is paid to do. Every person working on a residential building work (RBW) project for the property owner should itemise separately their responsibilities in writing, in case of future dispute about who was the principal person responsible (builder) for the whole RBW project.

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How to find a builder or tradesperson 

Try the following:

  • ask people for their personal recommendations
  • ask other people in the industry
  • ask the relevant industry association for a list of names
  • look for advertisements on television, radio, in home buyer magazines or the local newspaper
  • search the Yellow Pages or other relevant online directories for 'building contractors', 'home improvements' or specific trade categories.

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Project homes 

If you choose one of the designs of a builder on display at an exhibition home, then you will probably use that builder. Unless you have otherwise agreed, your new home must by law, be built to the same standard of work and materials used in the exhibition home.

Before you sign a contract, find out what the standard inclusions are. You will have to negotiate with the project builder if you want any changes to the design, fixtures and fittings so that the total cost will fit your budget.

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