Frequently Asked Questions

Do I need a licensed builder?

Yes! Ken Doolan of Terrific With Tools is a licensed builder. Only a builder who is properly trained and has the relevant experience to do the work may be licensed. Any person who carries out residential building work over $1,000 in labour and materials content without an appropriate license is breaking the law and could be prosecuted.

Why should I choose a licensed builder?

By hiring an unlicensed builder or contractor without Workers Compensation/Public Liability Insurance, you, as the homeowner, are liable for any accident or injury on the job! There is no direct legal recourse against an unlicensed builder or contractor for a bad job. Hiring a licensed professional ensures training, credibility, and your satisfaction and peace of mind for a job well done. Only deal with a builder or tradesperson who is licensed with the Office of Fair Trading.

Building Contracts: Do I need one?

By law, a licensed builder or tradesperson must provide a written contract to the homeowner for building work over $1,000 or if the cost of the labour and materials to be supplied by the builder or tradesperson is over $1,000. This work includes house construction, renovation, addition, maintenance, or swimming pool installation.

What information should be in the contract?

  • The date it was signed by both the builder/tradesperson and the homeowner.
  • The exact name on your builder or tradesperson's licence card and the exact licence number.
  • The homeowner's name.
  • A sufficient description of the work to be carried out with any project plans and specifications attached.
  • Relevant warranties required by the Home Building Act 1989.
  • The contract price, if known, must be prominently displayed on the front page.
  • A warning if the contract price is not known or is subject to change and an explanation of the provisions allowing for variation of the price.
  • A checklist of questions which aim to ensure that the homeowner understands a number of issues such as the contract price, home warranty insurance, deposits, and who is required to obtain council and other approvals.
  • A clause which requires the builder or tradesperson to carry out the work in accordance with the requirements of the Building Code of Australia.
  • A clause which requires that all variations must be in writing.
  • A clause which requires the builder/tradesperson to provide the consumer with a brochure (the Consumer Building Guide) which explains procedures for the resolution of contract and insurance disputes.

Does my tradesman need a licence?

In NSW you need to have a licence if you:

  • Are contracted to do residential building work where the labour and materials content is worth more than $1,000.
  • Undertake specialist work such as plumbing, gas fitting, electrical, or air conditioning work.

How can I check if my tradesman has a licence?

Ask for their licence. When you see the licence, write down the number.

The licence must be for the specific work that you want done. The licence card indicates the category for which the holder is licensed, for example, builder, plumber, electrician, etc.

It should also be current, so do the next step to ensure that it has not been cancelled or suspended for any reason.

Check for yourself. The following website is set up by the Office of Fair Trading.

Do I need a smoke alarm?

In residential premises, yes. To enhance safety and minimise loss of life in building fires, the NSW Parliament enacted the Building Legislation Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Act in July 2005. The Act allows regulations to be made to require smoke alarms to be installed in existing buildings in which people sleep.

A smoke alarm is an effective early warning device designed to detect smoke and alert building occupants to the presence of a fire. Installed in the correct location it increases the time available for safe escape.

From 1 May 2006, when the Environmental Planning and Assessment Amendment (Smoke Alarms) Regulation 2006 came into effect, owners of residential property are responsible for ensuring smoke alarms are installed.

The Smoke Alarms Regulation specifies which types of buildings will need smoke alarms installed, the types of alarms, where they are to be located, and other matters. For more information about the requirements under the Regulation, go to Fire NSW.

Finally, the most important thing to consider . . .

Ask youself, "Will both my family and I be comfortable with this person being around our property for the duration of the job?"

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