The body of law that applies to any building project is called construction law. Whether you are building and planning a residence, a block of apartments, an office building, or a shopping centre, you should be aware of your rights and obligations. This article provides a snapshot of the laws and regulations that specifically apply to the construction industry in Australia.

What is Construction Law?

Construction law in Australia is a broad and specialised area. Your lawyer’s involvement will range from activities such as:

  • Planning and development applications with the council;
  • Contract drafting and advice;
  • Tenders and negotiations;
  • Joint venture agreements;
  • Dispute resolution and litigation; and
  • Debt recovery.

Each aspect of a construction project will be affected by a combination of federal, state and local (council) laws.

The National Construction Code

The National Construction Code (NCC) is a code issued by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB) that outlines the minimum requirements for the design and construction of new buildings. It lays particular emphasis on the health, safety, amenity and sustainable design of buildings. It contains the Building Code of Australia in Volumes 1 and 2 (BCA) and the Plumbing Code of Australia in Volume 3.

The current version is the NCC 2016. All States and Territories have adopted the NCC 2016.

State and Territory Legislation

Each state also has its respective laws and regulations that govern the building and construction industry. Among other things, these laws and regulations cover areas such as:

  • Licences;
  • Registration;
  • Contract formalities;
  • Insurance; and
  • Statutory implied warranties in contracts.

Below is a summary of the applicable legislation and regulations in each state.

State Legislation
New South Wales Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 1999 and the Contractors Debts Act 1997
Victoria Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2002
Queensland Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2004, Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 and the Subcontractors’ Charges Act 1974
Australian Capital Territory Building and Construction Industry (Security of Payment) Act 2009
Western Australia Construction Contracts Act 2004
South Australia Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009 and the Worker’s Liens Act 1893
Northern Territory Construction Contracts (Security of Payments) Act 2004
Tasmania Building and Construction Industry Security of Payment Act 2009

Security of Payment

Each state also has its respective security of payment legislation. The security and payment legislation applies primarily to contractors and subcontractors. It ensured that they are paid promptly for the construction work they perform. The legislative framework provides mechanisms for recovery of money, and resolving disputes, without the need to resort to litigation.

The legislation described above is by no means a comprehensive list of the construction law that will apply. Depending on the particular issue at hand, many other laws may come into play, such as workplace health and safety, the Fair Work Act, and local government planning and environment laws. There are also a plethora of common law principles that affect the interpretation of construction contracts and legislation.

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Want to know more about construction law in Australia as it applies to you? Get in touch with LegalVision today on 1300 544 755.

Bonnie-Anne Talese

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