Choosing a building industry professional

When you build, extend or renovate you will usually deal with professionals such as:

  • builders
  • architects
  • surveyors
  • tradespeople.

Always check qualifications and reputation before you hire someone.

You can check they are licensed for specific work by asking to see their licence. You can also search their occupation’s register:


The public assurances register lists a business if there have been official concerns about their work in the past.

You could also:

  • ask for references from people who have recently had work done, then check the quality
  • read reliable reviews and feedback online.

Indemnity insurance

Building work contractors must have building indemnity insurance if they are doing work that needs council approval and costs $12,000 or more.

Registered architects must have professional indemnity insurance.


Don't sign a contract unless you:

  • read it
  • understand it
  • check everything you discussed is included
  • agree with it.

If there is something you don't understand, ask the person to explain it and show you the contract reference or ask CBS for advice.


Builders and tradespeople can ask for a deposit before they start work on a property. The amount they can ask depends on the cost in your contract:

  • between $12,000 and $20,000 - no more than $1,000 deposit
  • $20,000 or more - no more than five percent of the total.

Builders can also ask you to pay for things like council approval and soil testing. It is risky to make any other payments upfront. Once the  work has started, you should only pay for completed work when you receive an invoice.

Reporting unlicensed work

Building professionals can only do the type of work they are qualified and licensed to carry out. Phone 131 882 or report online if you have concerns about unlicensed work.

Related information

On this site

Disputes with a builder or tradesperson

Using licensed tradespeople

Certificates of compliance

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Page last updated 28 February 2023

Provided by:
Attorney-General's Department
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