Building (general building work)

Table of Contents
    show-hide-toc-button

    Building (general building work)

    • Download as PDF
    • Print

    All the information you need to get a licence or certificate in general building work. Use the menu to find what you need.

    You need a building licence before you can do any residential building work in NSW valued at more than $5000 (incl GST) in labour and materials.

    A general builder may do any work that is residential building work. Residential building work means any work involved in constructing a dwelling, or altering or adding to a dwelling. It also includes repairing, renovating, decorating or applying protective treatment to a dwelling. A dwelling is a building or part of a building for people to live in, such as a house, terrace, townhouse, duplex or flat. To learn more about what is considered residential building work, what is a dwelling, and what is excluded from the definition of residential building work, see schedule 1 of the Home Building Act 1989.

    Work that you need to have a building licence for includes (but is not limited) to:

    • constructing or erecting a garage, carport or shed (including kits)
    • bathroom, kitchen or laundry renovations
    • swimming pool building and structural landscaping
    • screened, glass or pool enclosures
    • atriums and conservatories
    • house lifting (eg permanently raising the height of an existing structure)
    • removing and resitting dwellings
    • saunas and steam rooms.

    Any contract for general building work can include any specialist work that needs to be done as part of the overall job, and any specialist work can be appropriately subcontracted. However this work must be carried out by the holder of an endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate in that specialist category.

    Licence types

    There are different types of licences available in NSW depending on whether you want to contract or supervise work.

    A contractor licence allows you to contract and advertise to do work. You can only do the types of work described on your licence card. Contractor licences can be issued to individuals and to companies and partnerships. You can choose to have a contractor licence issued for one or three years.

    A qualified supervisor certificate allows you to supervise and do the work described on your certificate. Qualified supervisor certificates are only issued to individuals. Certificates are issued for three years. A qualified supervisor certificate does not allow you to contract for work.

    An endorsed contractor licence is issued to individuals who apply for a contractor licence and who also have the qualifications and experience needed to be a qualified supervisor. Endorsed contractor licence cards have ‘contractor licence (Q)’ printed on them to show they are also equivalent to a Qualified Supervisor Certificate.

    Apply for a licence or certificate

    This information is for individuals. See information for companies and partnerships.

    Once you know what licence type you want, and you have checked you have the right qualifications and experience, you can apply for a licence or certificate.

    How to apply

    You must lodge your application and payment in person at a Service NSW centre.

    What you need

    Forms you will need:

    You will also need:

    • details of any past or current licences or certificates you hold
    • an original copy of your qualification/s, such as your certificate. See Qualifications for more information on what you need to have
    • details of your employment and experience
    • details of any past compliance issues, insolvency matters, or criminal offences (if applicable)
    • one passport size photo
    • proof of identify
    • payment

    The application form and checklist have more information about each of these items.

    You can also ask at your nearest Service NSW centre for these forms.

    Fees

    These fees are for individual licences. See company and partnership licence fees.

    Licence typeLicence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Building contractor licence - 1 year $389$296$685
    Building contractor licence - 3 years $986$296$1282
    Building qualified supervisor certificate - 3 years $161$88$249

    *Licence fees are refundable if your application is refused or withdrawn. Processing fees are not refundable.

    Vary your licence or certificate

    This information is for individuals. See information for companies and partnerships.

    Add a category to your licence or certificate

    If you gain more qualifications that allow you to do more types of work, such as other building work, trade work or specialist work, you can apply to add a category to your individual contractor’s licence and/or your qualified supervisor’s certificate.

    How to apply

    You must lodge your application in person at a Service NSW centre.

    What you need

    Forms you will need:

    You will also need:

    • details of past or current licences or certificates you hold
    • an original copy of your qualification/s, such as your certificate. See Qualifications for more information on what you need to have
    • details of your employment and experience
    • details of any past compliance issues, insolvency matters, or criminal offences (if applicable)
    • one passport size photo
    • proof of identify
    • payment

    The application form and checklists have more information about each of these items.

    You can also ask at your nearest Service NSW centre for these forms.

    Fees

    These fees are for individual licences. See company and partnership licence fees.

    Add a building category to:Licence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Building contractor licence -$296$296
    Trade or specialist contractor licence-$296$296
    Building qualified supervisor certificate -$88$88
    Trade or specialist supervisor certificate-$88$88
    Add a trade or specialist category to:Licence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Building contractor licence -$151$151
    Trade or specialist contractor licence-$151$151
    Building qualified supervisor certificate -$88$88
    Trade or specialist qualified supervisor certificate-$88$88
    Tradesperson certificate -$88$88

    *Licence fees are refundable if your application is refused or withdrawn. Processing fees are not refundable.

    Change a condition on your licence

    Your licence or certificate allows you to do and/or supervise the work described on your licence card, subject to any specified conditions. Conditions may be imposed for a number reasons and limit the scope of work you are able to do, or place other requirements on the licence or certificate holder. They may be as a result mutual recognition processes, disciplinary action, bankruptcy, external administration or other factors.

    If circumstances change, and this affects your ability to do the work described on your licence card, you must let us know within seven days. If you wish to have your licence or certificate updated to remove limitations on your category of work, you will need to make an application to vary your licence or certificate. Refer to the 'Add a category to your licence or certificate' section above.

    Qualifications and experience needed

    Practical experience requirements

    ‘Experience’ means you have done work that matches any of the four options below:

    Option

    Type of experience

    You meet this description

    1

    You are an employee

    You are employed by a building contractor.

    2

    You are a subcontractor

    You hold an endorsed contractor licence and have contracted to a building contractor.

    3

    You are the holder of a qualified supervisor certificate and are working as a nominated supervisor

    The contractor licence you are nominated supervisor for includes the category of full general building. There is also another nominated supervisor to cover the category of building.

    4

    The contractor licence you are nominated supervisor for has been subcontracting to a general building contractor.

    For all options 1-4:

    • the building contractor must have a contractor licence in full general building work 
      AND
    • when getting your experience, you must be supervised and directed in your work by someone who holds an endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate in the residential building work in which you gained your experience. They must confirm your experience on the referee's statement form
      AND
    • you must be paid with money in line with the law for the work you did.

    Assessing experience

    When Fair Trading assesses your experience, we will look to see if you have the ability or capacity to competently supervise the construction of residential building work on site in line with the Building Code of Australia. This includes dealing effectively with sub-contractors, consumers and others.

    When calculating if you have the equivalent of two years’ site based full-time work experience, we will be checking that:

    • you have done work on sites under the supervision of a fully licensed builder
    • you have worked on the majority of the sites within 10 years of lodging your application
    • if you worked on two or more sites at the same time, we will count them as one period of time only when we are calculating your equivalent full-time work experience

    We will assess individual sites and see if the work you performed is relevant and meets our requirements.

    What to include in your application:

    You should include complete information about your relevant industry experience in a wide range of building construction work. This includes referring to as many job sites and using as many Referee’s Statement and Applicant’s Residential Building Experience forms as you need to give us full information. You should show you have experience across all stages of construction, and in a wide range of work, to satisfy us that you have the capacity to do, coordinate and supervise general building work in the construction of a residential dwelling. Trade work often done during building construction includes but is not limited to things such as carpentry, brick laying and plastering. If you only have experience in one kind of work, your experience is not enough to apply for a full building licence.

    If you fail to show you have relevant site-based experience in a wide range of building construction work, we cannot approve your application.

    Experience as an Owner Builder, or as the holder of an Owner Builder Permit, is not acceptable to meet the practical experience requirements to get a licence or certificate as a builder.

    Your referee/s must have held a qualified supervisor certificate or individual contractor licence (Q) in the category of general building work issued by Fair Trading during the time you gained your experience.

    Qualification requirements

    You must meet one of the two qualification criteria below.

    To find organisations that deliver nationally recognised training for building, go to training.gov.au and search via the course code or name.

    1. Certificate IV in Building and Construction (BCG40106 or CPC40108 Building or CPC40110 Building) or (BCG40206 or CPC40208 Contract Administration) or (BCG40306 or CPC40308 Estimating) or (BCG40506 or CPC40508 Site Management) including all of the following units:

    • BCGBC4001A or CPCCBC4001A Apply building codes and standards to the construction process for low rise building projects
    • BCGBC4002A or CPCCBC4002A Manage occupational health and safety in the building and construction workplace
    • BCGBC4003A or CPCCBC4003A Select and prepare a construction contract
    • BCGBC4004A or CPCCBC4004A Identify and produce estimated costs for building and construction projects
    • BCGBC4005A or CPCCBC4005A Produce labour and material schedules for ordering
    • BCGBC4006A or CPCCBC4006A or CPCCBC4006B Select, procure and store construction materials for low rise projects
    • BCGBC4007A or CPCCBC4007A Plan building or construction work
    • BCGBC4008A or CPCCBC4008A or CPCCBC4008B Conduct on-site supervision of the building and construction project
    • BCGBC4009A or CPCCBC4009A or CPCCBC4009B Apply legal requirements to building and construction projects
    • BCGBC4010A or CPCCBC4010A or CPCCBC4010B Apply structural principles to residential low-rise constructions
    • BCGBC4011A or CPCCBC4011A or CPCCBC4011B Apply structural principles to commercial low-rise constructions
    • BSBSBM406A or BSBSMB406A or BSBSMB406 Manage small business finances
    • BCGBC4012A or CPCCBC4012A or CPCCBC4012B Read and interpret plans and specifications
    • BCGBC4018A or CPCCBC4018A Apply site surveys and set out procedures to building and construction projects
    • BCGBC4024A or CPCCBC4024A Resolve business disputes.

    Plus any of the following:

    • a current carpentry or bricklaying contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate, or an approved qualification that would allow the issue of such a  licence (for details of approved qualifications, see Carpentry or Bricklaying)
    • Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) BCG50206 or CPC50208
    • Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) CPC50210 including the following units:
      • CPCCBC5004A Supervise and apply quality standards to the selection of building and construction materials
      • CPCCBC5005A Select and manage building and construction contractors
      • CPCCBC5007A or CPCCBC5007B Administer the legal obligations of a building and construction contract
      • CPCCBC5009A Identify services layout and connection methods in medium rise construction projects.
    • Bachelor of Housing from an Australian university or a degree in civil engineering, structural engineering, architecture, housing, construction, construction management, construction project management, construction economics, applied science (building) or quantity surveying from an Australian university.

    2. A degree in building, construction, construction management, construction project management, construction economics, applied science (building), or quantity surveying from an Australian university which requires the applicant to undertake the equivalent of four years’ full time study and a mandatory work placement.

    A “degree” excludes an associate’s degree or an honorary degree.

    Superseded qualifications

    We will accept the following courses or qualifications in applications for an endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate for general building work if you either started or completed the course prior to 18 August 2008.

    1. Certificate IV in Building (3477) conducted by a registered training organisation or TAFE and:
      1. a carpentry, carpentry & joinery or bricklaying trade course from TAFE or a registered training organisation or
      2. a current carpentry or bricklaying endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate, or an approved qualification that would allow the issue of such a licence (for details of approved qualifications, see carpentry or bricklaying).
    2. Diploma in Building (3475) conducted by a registered training organisation including TAFE.
    3. Advanced Diploma in Building (3471) conducted by registered training organisation including TAFE.
    4. Certificate IV in Building Studies (1261) from TAFE and:
      1. a carpentry, carpentry & joinery or bricklaying trade course from TAFE or a registered training organisation or
      2. a current carpentry or bricklaying endorsed contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate, or an approved qualification that would allow the issue of such a licence (for details of approved qualifications, see carpentry or bricklaying).
    5. Diploma in Building Studies 90945NSW (1262) from TAFE.
    6. Advanced Diploma in Building Studies 90946NSW (1263) from TAFE.
    7. Advanced Diploma in Structural Engineering 91155NSW (6443) from TAFE.
    8. A diploma from an Australian university or a body controlled by an Australia university which is a bridging or pathway course that allows the holder to enrol in a degree in: building; construction management; construction economics; applied science (building); structural engineering; or quantity surveying at an Australian university, but only if the person applying for a licence gained the diploma before 26 March 2012, or started the diploma course before, but did not complete it until after, 26 March 2012.
    9. Certificate of Registration as an Architect under the Architects Act 2003.
    10. Degree in civil engineering or architecture from an Australian university regardless of when it was gained PLUS Certificate IV in Building (3477 or TAFE Course 1261).
    11. Diploma of Structural Engineering (2992) from TAFE.
    12. Associate Diploma in Applied Science 15114NSW (Building) (5185) TAFE.
    13. Certificate in Building (5102) TAFE.
    14. Certificate in Building Foreman & Clerk of Works (135) from TAFE.
    15. Certificate in Building Supervision (5108) from TAFE.
    16. Advanced Certificate in Building Supervision (5189) from TAFE.
    17. Advanced Building Studies Course – Diploma in Building Studies Level V (2183) from TAFE.
    18. Advanced Building Studies Course – Certificate IV in Building Studies – Residential Level IV (2182) from TAFE PLUS either a carpentry, carpentry & joinery or bricklaying trade course from TAFE or a registered training organisation.
    19. Certificate IV in Contractors Management Program conducted by Back to Basics Business Training Pty Ltd ACN 077 042 490 AND a carpentry, carpentry & joinery, or bricklaying trade course from TAFE or a registered training organisation.

    Previous licence or certificate holders

    You might be able to have your previous contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate in general building work reissued to you if you meet one of the following three situations:

    Time since your licence expiredDid you have conditions or restrictions on your licence?What you need to do to meet the qualification criteria for a new licence/certificate
    1Less than five yearsNo

    Give us your previous licence or certificate number

    2Less than five years

    Yes

    AND

    Your licence was originally issued because you had a licence from interstate or New Zealand (ie it was issued under the Mutual Recognition Act 1992)

    Give us your previous licence or certificate number

    Your new licence or certificate will have the same restrictions and conditions as your former licence or certificate

    3

    Less than 10 years but more than five years

    AND

    You had the licence or certificate for at least two years within those 10 years

    No

    You must still meet the current qualification requirements to be able to get a new licence or certificate, but you do not need to give us referee statements.

    If your application is approved, you will be issued the same licence or qualified supervisor number you had before.

    If none of these three situations apply to you, you must meet the qualification and experience requirements in full.

    Renew or restore a licence or certificate

    This information is for individuals. See information for companies and partnerships.

    We will send you a renewal form in the mail several weeks before your licence or certificate is due to expire.

    How to renew

    You can use the details on the renewal form to renew your licence online at Service NSW. You can also renew in person at your nearest Service NSW centre.

    What you need

    • your licence number
    • renewal form
    • payment
    • additional details form/s (if applicable)
    • details of any past compliance issues, insolvency matters, or criminal offences (if applicable)
    • details of change of any circumstances to the licence or certificate

    If we approve your application, we will post your new licence to you. Read reasons why an application may not be approved.

    If your licence is going to expire soon and you have not gotten your renewal form, contact us on 13 32 20. It is your responsibility to renew your licence on time.

    Renewal fees

    These fees are for individual licences. See company and partnership licence fees.

    A discount of 10 per cent or $5 (whichever is more) applies to the processing fee when you renew your licence online.

    Licence typeLicence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Building contractor licence - 1 year $408$51$459
    Building contractor licence - 3 years $1051$51$1102
    Building qualified supervisor certificate - 3 years -$51$51

    *Licence fees are refundable if your application is refused or withdrawn. Processing fees are not refundable.

    Late renewals

    If you do not renew on time and your licence expires, you may have to apply to have your licence restored and pay a restoration fee. You have three months from the date of expiry to restore your licence or certificate. You can use the details on your renewal form to apply to restore your licence at a Service NSW centre.

    Restoration fees

    These fees are for individual licences. See company and partnership licence fees.

    Licence typeLicence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Building contractor licence - 1 year$461$51$512
    Building contractor licence - 3 years$1105$51$1156
    Building qualified supervisor certificate - 3 years-$51$51

    *Licence fees are refundable if your application is refused or withdrawn. Processing fees are not refundable.

    If your licence expires and you do not apply to have it restored within three months, you will have to apply for your licence to be reissued. Follow the steps in ‘Apply for a licence or certificate’. Having your licence reissued takes time and you cannot trade until you have it.

    Our assessment process

    Once we have your completed application form, supporting documents, and fee payment, we will assess your application.

    If your application for a new, renewed, updated or replacement licence is approved, we will send you a licence card.

    Sometimes we do not approve applications. Reasons for this can include:

    • you have not met the qualification or experience requirements
    • you failed to provide details requested by Fair Trading
    • you have been disqualified from holding a licence
    • you owe money to Fair Trading as a result of a judgement
    • you hold a provisional licence or certificate
    • you are an apprentice or trainee
    • you have not complied or are unable to comply with insurance requirements
    • you are bankrupt or were bankrupt within three years before the date of the application
    • you are or were a director or a person concerned in the management of a company:
      • that is or was the subject of a winding up order or
      • for which a controller or administrator has been appointed or
      • when a controller or administrator was appointed (within three years prior to your application for licence). This includes where you stop being a director or a person concerned in the management of a company within 12 months prior to the external administration.
    • you are subject to an unsatisfied tribunal order
    • you have had an unreasonable number of:
      • complaints
      • penalty notices
      • formal cautions
      • paid insurance claims
    • you used false information in your application
    • a close associate (who is not a fit and proper person to hold a licence) has significant influence over you or the operation and management of your business
    • you are considered to be an unfit or improper person to hold a licence or certificate.

    It is an offence to make a false statement or leave out information when applying for a licence. If it is found that your licence has been issued on misleading grounds, you may be prosecuted and your licence may be cancelled.

    If we refuse your application, only part of the fee may be refunded, the rest is to cover processing costs.

    Update your licence details

    This information is for individuals. See information for companies and partnerships.

    If you change your name, address or other contact details, you must let us know within seven days.

    Update your address, phone number or email address

    How to update

    You can update your details online at Service NSW. Your current email address and mobile phone number needs to be registered with Fair Trading to be able to update online.

    You can also update your details in person at a Service NSW centre.

    What you need

    • your licence number
    • your new contact details
    • completed notification of change of address form (only needed by individuals who want to update their details in person at a Service NSW centre rather than online).

    Update your name

    How to update

    You must lodge your application in person at a Service NSW centre.

    What you need

    Replace a licence

    If your licence or certificate has been damaged, lost or stolen, you can order a replacement at a Service NSW centre.

    What to do

    You must lodge your application form and payment in person at a Service NSW centre.

    Fees

    Licence typeLicence fee*Processing feeTotal
    Replacement contractor licence or supervisor certificate-$47$47

    *Licence fees are refundable if your application is refused or withdrawn. Processing fees are not refundable.

    Interstate and New Zealand licences

    If you have a licence from interstate or New Zealand, and want to apply to work in NSW, see Mutual Recognition.

    Insurance requirements

    If you are a licensed builder or tradesperson in NSW, you need to get home building compensation (HBC) cover for each home building project over $20,000 including GST.

    HBC cover, which used to be called ‘home warranty insurance’, protects homeowners as a last resort if you cannot complete building work or fix defects.

    Visit the State Insurance Regulatory Authority's website for more information.

    Insolvency

    Current bankruptcy and external administration 

    If you are applying for a licence in the categories of building or swimming pool building, and are currently bankrupt or the director of a company that is under external administration (other than external administration resulting from a member's voluntary winding up of the body corporate), we cannot issue you a contractor licence. If you are applying for a licence in other categories, if we grant you a licence, it may come with the condition: 'Only for contracts up to $20,000'.

    Bankruptcy or external administration within three years

    If you are applying for a licence and have been discharged from bankruptcy or were previously a director of a company in external administration (other than external administration resulting from a member's voluntary winding up of the body corporate), and if we grant you a contractor licence, it may come with conditions.

    Cancelled or suspended licences

    Your licence or certificate can be cancelled or suspended if you:

    • become involved in unlawful activity
    • get a licence by misrepresentation or fraudulent means
    • become bankrupt or subject to a winding up order

    Also, if the holder of a company or partnership licence goes more than 30 days without an acceptable nominated supervisor, without prior consent from Fair Trading, the licence will be cancelled.

    If your licence is cancelled, we will not refund any of the fees paid.

    Immediate action required

    If your licence or certificate has been cancelled or suspended you must immediately:

    • stop all business activity that relates to the licence or certificate
    • remove any sign or advertisement which indicates the conduct of business activity that relates to the licence or certificate
    • return the licence or certificate to NSW Fair Trading by mail or at a Service NSW centre.

    You should also let your clients know, either verbally or in writing, that your licence has been cancelled or suspended and you are unable to complete any unfinalised work.

    Automatic licence suspension

    Your licence will be automatically suspended if you do not comply with an order by a court or the NSW Civil or Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) to pay money for a building claim. Read more.

    Builders Continuing Professional Development

    If you are an individual who holds a building or pool building licence or certificate, you are required to do Continuing Professional Development (CPD). Read more.