Home building laws in every state or territory ensure tradespeople are appropriately qualified for the work they perform on residential properties. However, the home building laws do not cover all trades. If you are a tradesperson in Queensland, you need to know when the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (Qld) (the Act) may apply. This article will explain when and how you comply with home building laws in Queensland.

How Does the Act Define Home Building?

The Act covers both residential and commercial types of building and construction works. ‘Domestic building work’ is defined as the:

  • erection or construction of a detached dwelling (if the dwelling is used for as a residence);
  • renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of homes;
  • removal or re-siting the work for a detached dwelling; and
  • installation of a kit home at a building site. 

The definition also covers landscaping, paving, fixtures and services. 

What Does the Act Exclude? 

The types of work excluded from the Act are:

  • farm work and fencing;
  • standalone work that is worth $3,300 or less (with minor exceptions);
  • works by:
    • engineers;
    • surveyors; and
    • architects;
    • interior designers;
    • locksmiths;
    • building certifiers;
    • pool and safety inspectors;
    • governments or governmental agencies;
    • charities; and
    • owner builders ($11,000 or less); and
  • works that involve:
    • building monuments, art or sculpture;
    • earthmoving and excavating;
    • scaffolding;
    • laying carpets, vinyl or floating floors;
    • installing insulation for acoustic or thermal control;
    • manufacturing off-site roof trusses or wall frames;
    • building roads, railways or footpaths;
    • laying asphalt, bitumen or wet pour rubber;
    • installing solar panels and hot water systems;
    • building strand wire fences (without concrete footings);
    • mining;
    • blinds, internal shutters and curtains; and
    • manufacturing equipment.

Contract Requirements 

If your trade is covered by the home building laws, you will need to supply a written contract to your client. However, the requirement only applies to contracts greater than $3,300. 

The Act has specific requirements for what you need to include in a building contract. However, the requirements depend on whether the contract price is between:

  1. $3,300 and $20,000 (known as a level 1 regulated contract); or
  2. $20,000 or more (known as a level 2 regulated contract).

Both contract types must contain information such as:

  • name of the parties;
  • contractor’s licence number;
  • description of the work;
  • plans or specifications for the work;
  • contract price;
  • final or estimated starting date for construction;
  • final or estimated date of practical completion;
  • statement of statutory warranties; and
  • details on how the homeowner can withdraw from the building contract.

However, a level 2 contract has additional requirements on how you display or calculate the contract price. These requirements include:

  • displaying the fixed contract price prominently on the first page of the contract;
  • calculating the contract price in the contract schedule if there is no fixed price; and
  • including a warning and brief explanation on the first page of the contract as to how you will change the contract price.

Therefore, you may want to create different standard form contracts to capture these requirements tailored to the specifics of your job or work. These contracts can help you comply with the Act. In addition, they can help save you time in the long run. 

Warranties

Your contracts should set out warranties. That means as a tradesperson, you guarantee that:

  • all materials supplied will be good and suitable for the purpose of use;
  • all materials supplied will be new (unless otherwise stated in the contract);
  • work will comply with all relevant laws;
  • work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill;
  • once the work is completed, the client can occupy the detached dwelling or home;
  • work will be carried out according to any plans or specifications;
  • any additional costs (known as provisional sums) are calculated with reasonable care and skill based on the available information at the time the contract was signed; and
  • work will be carried out with reasonable diligence if you have a cost-plus contract without a stated completion date. 

Licences

As a tradesperson, you will have to apply for a contractor’s licence if you carry out:

  • any work worth $3,300 or more.
  • work worth $1,100 or more when the work involves hydraulic services design; or
  • work of any value where it involves:
    • drainage;
    • plumbing and drainage;
    • gas fitting;
    • termite management using chemicals;
    • fire protection;
    • completed residential building inspection;
    • low rise, medium rise and open building design; and
    • site classification.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission has an extensive list of licences that you may have to obtain. Otherwise, you may face fines if you carry out any work without the correct licence.

For example, if you are a carpenter, you may want to apply for a trade contractor licence in carpentry. You will have to prove your technical qualifications, complete a managerial course and meet minimum financial requirements.

Key Takeaways

Your trade may be covered under Queensland’s home building laws in specific circumstances. If you are covered, you need to be aware of what to include in your contracts as well as any licences you need to obtain. Otherwise, you may face fines for carrying out work unlicensed or risk exposing yourself to lawsuits for any disputes under building contracts. If you have any questions, get in touch with LegalVision’s building lawyers on 1300 544 755 or fill out the form on this page.

Robert Nay
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