Who Needs to be a Licenced Builder in Victoria? 1

Thursday, June 4th, 2015
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If you are involved in the building industry in Victoria then chances are you should be a Licenced/Registered Building Practitioner. This legislation has been in for some years, but there are still many in the industry unaware of this legal requirement.

There are a number of categories to be registered under and they are required in both the domestic and commercial sector. Work that includes structural landscaping, garages, fences, carports, retaining walls, shade structures, kitchen and bathroom renovations and so on are required, by law, to be licenced if the work is valued over $5,000. Once work is valued at this amount, a major building contract is required to be entered into.

Any extensions, alterations or improvements are also included. Additionally, preparation of plans for the work is also included. Once the value of work exceeds $12,000, relevant compliant building warranty insurance is required or the builder, registered or not, can be prosecuted and fined. For commercial builders, defects insurance is to be instigated.

Builders and trade contractors are required to be registered if the value of the building work undertaken is more than $5,000 and they are not working as a sub contractor to a registered builder. It is not intended that builders will break up a project into a series of separate contracts and thereby avoid the provision of consumer protection.

Being licenced/registered with the Building Practitioner’s Board is not the same as being a member of an industry organisation. Some people believe being a member of these associations means they are licenced. The membership organisations are there to support the industry and their members but are not the regulators.

The Building Regulations 2006 and the Building (Qualifications) Regulations 1996 nominate the various categories and classes of Building Practitioners. Registration in these categories and classes is based upon the nature and extent of the qualifications and experience of the person who seeks registration.

Developers – that is, persons or companies who manage the sale and development of land – need not be registered, but need to contract with a builder registered as a Building Practitioner in order to undertake building work. Although formal tertiary qualifications are nominated for some classes in the category of builder and draftsperson, they may not be a requirement. Sometimes, relevant experience will suffice.

The process requirements for the domestic and commercial sector are complex and applicants need to be precise about the information they supply.

Domestic Builder – Unlimited

The bee’s knees of builder’s registration. The unlimited licence allows the builder to perform, manage or arrange any domestic building work, including use of unregistered trades.

Domestic Builder – Manager

Domestic builder managers must use registered practitioners as contractors for each component of the work (contractors must be registered building practitioners).  The domestic builder manager is not allowed to do any hands-on work on site.

Domestic Builder  – Limited

Registered building practitioners may perform on the component of building in which they are registered (e.g. carpentry, brick laying, kitchen renovations).

Commercial builder – Unlimited and Limited.

Commercial building encompasses any works that are carried out that are not on domestic properties.

Other categories include Building Surveyor (unlimited/limited), Building Inspector (unlimited/limited), Quantity Surveyor, Engineer (Civil/Mechanical/Electrical/Fire Safety), Draftsperson (Building Design – architectural, interior, services), Erector or Supervisor (temporary structures – Class V1 and V2).

The category of Builder – Demolisher stands alone in that any person undertaking demolition works, regardless of the value, is required to be registered.

Once an application has been received, it is assessed by a staff member of the Building Practitioner’s Board. In some cases, the applicant will be required to take a multiple choice Q & A examination at the office of the Practitioner’s Board. Additionally, the applicant may also be required to attend an interview with an assessor to demonstrate their competency in the category of registration for which they are applying.

This is currently the process in Victoria, but it is anticipated that changes to legislation may be implemented in the next 12 months to amend the process.

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  1. David Chandler OAM

    There are two sides to this conversation. You can have all the licencing requirements you like. If there is no effective regulatory infrastructure for standards and compliance the system fails its customers. Often the regulations around licencing are driven by construction associations representing the interests of their members. They are well funded and influential. My observations of poor construction standards and compliance in Victoria showed the results of declining trade apprentice completions, in-experienced supervision, tick the box self-certification and lame third party certifier or regulator inaction. No wonder the former regulator was outed. The way ahead must get this balance right for the sake of the industry's customers.