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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 Tasmania, the Residential Building Work Contracts and Dispute Resolution Act 2016 (the Act) may apply to you. This article will explain when and how you comply with home building laws in Tasmania.

How Does the Act Define Home Building?

The Act define home (or residential) building quite broadly. The definitions are based on the National Construction Code, which splits the types of residential buildings according to:

  1. class 1A;
  2. class 2; or
  3. class 10, if the building is based on a class 1A or Class 2 building. 

The National Construction Code is a single document that sets out minimum standards for safety, health, amenity and sustainability in the design and construction of new (or renovations to existing buildings) in Australia.

Class 1A buildings are:

  • a single dwelling such as a detached house; and
  • one of a group of attached dwellings such as a townhouse. 

Class 2 buildings are:

  • apartments;
  • multi-unit buildings that share common walls, floors and ceilings; and
  • single-storey attached places with common space, such as two units above a common carpark. 

Class 10 buildings are:

  • sheds;
  • carports;
  • private garages;
  • fences;
  • masts;
  • antennas;
  • retaining walls;
  • swimming pools; and
  • private bushfire shelters. 

For example, a carport located at a house is a residential building, even though the carport is not used as a residence. 

Residential Building Work

Therefore, residential building work refers to any work on buildings that can be defined as residential buildings.  

Typical residential building work includes activities such as:

  • erection, re-erection, construction, alteration, repair or removal of houses;
  • plumbing (including storm water and sewerage systems) and fire safety systems works;
  • foundation works, excavations, earthworks, boring and filling;
  • electrical works, including lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning or cooling); and
  • painting, cleaning and decorating.

What Does the Act Exclude? 

However, the Act excludes many types of building work. Some of these exclusions are:

  • solar panels;
  • satellite dishes;
  • rooftop wind turbines;
  • apartment blocks with three or more levels;
  • hotels or hostels;
  • university accommodation; and
  • hospital or care institutions.

The Act also does not cover:

  • delivery of materials for the construction work;
  • work for subdividing land; and
  • work on caravans, motor vehicles, trailers, aeroplanes or boats which are only used for business or keeping animals.  

In addition, the Act excludes any home building contracts that valued at $20,000 or less.

Contract Requirements

If you do perform residential construction work and your contract is worth more than $20,000, the Act will apply to you. There are certain contract requirements under the Act. For example, contracts must: 

  • include the statutory warranties, party details and the builder’s licence details;
  • state the contract price or a method to work out the price;
  • state the date when the works are finished or a method for estimating the date;
  • attach a signed copy of the residential building guide, with the completed checklist of key contract requirements;
  • provide a cooling-off period of five business days; and 
  • not contain a deposit of more than:
    • 5% if the contract value is over $50,000;
    • 10% if between $20,000 and $50,000; or
    • 20% if half the contract price relates to work carried out off-site, such as using prefabricated concrete.

Warranties

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

  • all materials supplied are of good quality;
  • all materials supplied will be new;
  • the work will comply with all relevant laws;
  • the work will be carried out with reasonable care and skill;
  • all work is carried out according to plans or specifications;
  • the home is fit for occupation when the work is complete;
  • all work carried out is completed with reasonable diligence to the agreed or estimated timeframe; and
  • any estimated costs are calculated with reasonable care and skill based on the information available at the time of entering the contract.

The warranties will last for six years from the date of practical completion.

The date of practical completion is the time where the contractor will complete the work sufficiently, not including any minor defects.

Licences

In Tasmania, the trades that require a licence include:

  • electricians;
  • plumbers;
  • gas-fitting workers, including auto-gasfitting; and
  • building services providers, which spans occupations such as builders, architects, engineers and surveyors.

For example, if you are an electrician, you will apply to the Department of Justice (Consumer, Building and Occupational Services) for your licence. You will have to supply evidence of your identity, qualifications and answer questions about your past financial history.

If your trade is not covered by the above list (such as painting), you will not need a licence to carry out home building work.

Key Takeaways

If you carry out any residential work and have a contract valued at $20,000 or more, you will have to comply with the Act. You will have to include important provisions in your building contracts as part of your compliance. However, depending on your trade, you may not need to apply for a licence before carrying out any home building work. 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.

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