If you’re renovating or building a domestic structure, you need to hire a registered builder if the work is worth more than $10,000. You also need a written ‘major domestic building contract’.

In this context, building work includes:

  • Constructing a home, including the landscaping, paving, retaining structures, driveways, fencing, lighting, heating, air conditioning, water supply and sewerage
  • Renovating or repairing any of the above items
    Preparation of plans or specifications by the builder
  • Demolition or removal of a home
  • Any work done on land zoned for residential use

A registered builder is required to take out domestic building insurance for work over $16,000. This insurance protects you if the builder dies, becomes insolvent or disappears.

If you don’t use a registered builder, there may be serious consequences:

  • You are not protected if the builder dies, becomes insolvent or disappears (although you might be able claim damages from a deceased estate or insolvent estate)
  • You don’t have any protection from poor quality work (although you might be able to claim damages from the builder yourself)
  • You might not be able to get domestic building insurance

A registered builder can be an individual or a company. They’re normally registered for specific work only. You can check if they’re registered on the Victorian Building Authority website.

Freya Southwell is a property lawyer and principal of Sutton Laurence King Lawyers.

For expert advice on property law and conveyancing contact Sutton Laurence King Lawyers today on 03 9070 9810 or info@slklawyers.com.au.