Many Domestic Builder Registration/Licence applicants believe they only need to be associated with the building industry to obtain a building licence in Victoria.

The reality is very different.

Meet Steve. Steve is 32 and has been on site working in various capacities for 15 odd years. He did a carpentry apprenticeship and has worked mainly doing basic carpentry jobs, framing, lock-up and fixing work and cabinetry over the years. He believes his experience is enough to warrant him getting a Domestic Builder Unlimited Licence (DB-U). He knows heaps of blokes who have a DB-U licence and their experience is similar to his, so he reckons he should get his as well. Steve also helped his cousin Mark do an extension on his house and helped his dad build his new place as well.

All too often, the belief that just being on site for a number of years is enough to warrant obtaining the crème de la crème of licences, the DB-U. The reality is that to obtain this licence, the Building Regulations stipulate that an applicant needs to have at least three years of practical experience to the satisfaction of the board. No one but the Building Practitioners Board (BPB) can confirm whether or not you have enough relevant experience but they would expect Steve to provide evidence of working in a supervisory or overseeing role under the supervision/direction of a licenced builder for the minimum three years.

Steve would also be examined on his knowledge and experience in all facets of the DB-U licence. There are over 20 categories of Domestic Builder Limited licence that fit under the DB-U including brickwork, swimming pools, earthworks, concreting, roofing, structural landscaping, and so on. Additionally, they are also required to have a solid working knowledge of the AS 1684 (Timber Framing Manual), The National Construction Codes and various construction related statutory documents and standards incorporating the Building Act, Building Regulations, OH&S Act, Contracts Act among others.

Steve will also be examined on his knowledge and experience in the building and business administration processes. The BPB would expect him to answer questions on topics such as building contracts, conflict resolution, estimating and tendering, employment law, quality management, and health and safety, just to name just a few.

So, it’s not just a matter of being “in the industry.” The requirements are firm and there for a reason. To obtain the DB–U, the BPB requires applicants to be experienced, knowledgeable and confident of their capabilities in many areas, not just carpentry.

What’s my advice to Steve? Perhaps he should consider the Limited Licence for Carpentry, DB-L-C, gain more experience working for an established builder and take on a role with more scope and responsibility. He might also consider completing a training course, such as the Diploma in Building, through a reputable RTO, that will help him gain more knowledge in many areas. Once he has more relevant experience, I would expect him to be much more confident in achieving his DB-U registration.