QLD Vs NSW Builders Licencing and Tertiary Requirements

Every builder looking to get licenced must undergo a rigorous qualification process, but requirements can differ from state to state. Concern over the structural integrity of high-rise developments in NSW has brought to light the differing qualifications and standards between the NSW and QLD building industry. In this blog post, SBDIR will fill you in on the QLD and NSW licensing and tertiary requirements.

Obtaining a Builders Licence in New South Wales

In order to obtain a builders licence in NSW, an individual will need to meet all criteria specified by the NSW Department of Fair Trading. Anyone planning on carrying out residential building work exceeding $5000 must be licensed.

There are three different licences available in NSW: Contractor licence, qualified supervisor certificate and endorsed contractor licence.

To qualify for a licence, individuals must have a minimum of 2 years’ building experience and wide exposure to all facets of building work. This experience can be gained in three different ways, either by working as an employee, as a sub-contractor appointed the supervisor of a Contractor Licence or as a sub-contractor holding an Endorsed (individual class) Contractor Licence. In all cases, you must be working and/or supervised by a licenced builder.

Unpaid work experience does not count towards your two years’ experience, all work experience must have been paid.

Key Points for NSW Builders Licence Requirements

  • You must complete Financial/Criminal checks, obtain at least 2 years work experience and obtain qualifications
  • You are allowed up to ten years in which to gain 2 years of building experience. This is to allow for gaps in work history/career breaks etc.
  • The licensed builder you worked with must have held a Qualified Supervisor Certificate or an Individual Contractor Licence (Q) for General Building Work. These are issued by NSW Fair Trading.

Completing Qualification in NSW

Once you have gained 2 year’s experience, you will then need to obtain:

  • Certificate IV in Building and Construction
  • Diploma of Building and Construction (Building)

You must also obtain one of the following:

  • Current carpentry or bricklaying contractor licence or qualified supervisor certificate, or an approved qualification that would allow the issue of such a licence.
  • Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) BCG50206 or CPC50208
  • Diploma of Building and Construction (Building) CPC50210 which includes a range of units (See Fairtrading NSW website)
  • Bachelor of Housing from an Australian University or a degree in civil engineering, structural engineering, architecture, housing, construction, construction management, construction economics, applied science (building), quantity surveying
  • A degree in any of the above fields provided by an Australian University which involved four years’ full time study along with a mandatory work placement

Note that under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW), licensed builders engaging in residential work must meet 3 criteria:

  • Builder + all contractors must hold a licence issued by NSW Fair Trading
  • A written contract, fully compliant with the Act, must be in place
  • All work exceeding $12,000 must have Home Warranty Insurance

There is also a 7 year statutory warranty period for residential work.

The major difference is that commercial work in NSW DOES NOT require any of the above, although most reputable builders will draw up a contract and supply other business insurances and construction liability.

For full guidelines and reference materials, visit the NSW Fairtrading Website.

Obtaining a Builders Licence in QLD

The process of obtaining a builders licence in QLD is more thorough than NSW. Licensing is managed by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, and there are many different builders licenses you can obtain, each with their own set of criteria.

You will need to obtain a QLD builders licence if you plan on carrying out any building work exceeding $3,300.

Anyone working in the following areas must hold a builders licence:

  • Building Design Low Rise, Medium Rise or Open
  • Chemical Termite Management
  • Completed Residential Building Inspector
  • Fire Protection
  • Gasfitting
  • Hydraulic Services Valued over $1,100
  • Plumbing and Drainage
  • Site Classifier

Once you have determined the licence you need, you can then commence the application process. Essentially, you will need to provide evidence of:

  • Experience (between 2-4 years supervisory/practical experience depending on licence type)
  • Qualifications (applicable qualifications listed for each licence type)
  • Three Written References
  • Financial Information proving that you meet the minimum financial requirements for the licence, along with proof of professional indemnity insurance
  • Proof of identity
  • If you are contracting under a trading name, you must provide a copy of your Record of Registration from ASIC
  • If you are operating under a partnership, you need to provide proof of business partnership

Once you have submitted your application, you will hear back from the QBCC within 6-8 weeks.

As you can see, the QLD system is a bit different to NSW. The QBCC are focussed on maintaining a stable and compliant building industry in Queensland, which is why they request detailed financial information and require each candidate to go through a slightly more onerous process. A builders licence is required for both residential AND commercial work exceeding $3,300 in QLD.


Obtaining a builder’s licence is no walk in the park, and each state has different requirements ranging from education and experience through to number of references required and submission of financial resource documents.

The key difference to be aware of is that there is no requirement for contractors in NSW to hold a building licence for commercial work. Some concerns have been raised about this situation, and it is possible that licencing requirements will change in the future.

As it stands, individuals holding a NSW licence who apply for mutual recognition in QLD will be restricted to a QLD “Domestic Building Construction Work Only” licence. For a full list of interstate licence transfers (including QLD to NSW) accepted by NSW Fair Trading, see this link.

If you ever have any doubts about your builder, you should always confirm their licence status before engaging them for the job.