Engaging building industry professionals

Choosing a qualified builder or tradesperson

If you are building, extending or renovating your property, find out about your builder’s reputation and check their qualifications before you hire them. You can:

  • ask people you trust to recommend someone
  • get at least three quotes using the same plans
  • check the public licensing register to make sure they are licenced in South Australia
  • check the public assurances register to see if Consumer and Business Services (CBS) has had concerns about their work
  • ask the builder for three references from people who have recently had work done, then check the quality
  • check reliable building reviews online.

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

Check the public licensing register

Many trade businesses must be licensed with CBS to carry out building work in South Australia. Ask the tradesperson to show you their licence card or you can:


Don't sign a building contract unless you:

  • read it
  • understand it
  • agree with it.

If there is something you don't understand, ask the builder to explain it or ask CBS for advice.

Your building contract: your rights and obligations (26.3 KB PDF)


Builders and tradespeople can ask for a deposit before they start work on a property. There is no limit on a deposit for jobs that cost less than $12,000, but more than $1,000 is usually unreasonable. The legal limits for jobs costing more than $12,000 are:

  • $12,000 to $20,000 - no more than $1,000 deposit
  • more than $20,000 - 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.

Then once the building work has started, only pay for completed work when you receive an invoice.

Reporting a tradesperson

Builders and tradespeople can only do the type of work they are qualified and licensed to carry out. If you are concerned about someone doing unlicensed work, phone 131 882 or report online and CBS will investigate.

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Page last updated 17 July 2018

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Attorney-General's Department
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