Building Block #2 – Demystifying Builders Licenses and Supervisors Registrations
There appears to be a great deal of confusion (even ignorance) in the market place about builders’ licences and supervisors registrations.
Engaging unqualified/unlicensed and/or unsupervised persons to perform building work can result in sub-standard work being performed and in a worst case scenario, place the lives of the occupants of the property at risk.
It is of vital importance therefore that BEFORE you engage a person or entity to perform building work that you check to make sure they hold the appropriate building work contractor’s licence and that they are also registered to supervise their own work (or have nominated someone else who is).
Consequently we thought it might be helpful to put together a series of BLOG’s to assist you in understanding the basics BEFORE you engage the builder, contractor or supervisor, or sign a building contract.
This is BLOG 2 in our series entitled Building blocks to avoid building disputes.
If you are unsure what the difference is between a building contractor’s licence and a supervisor’s registration please [refer our earlier BLOG here].
(Please note: words in italics indicates content taken directly off the CBS website or their published guidelines or directly quoted from the Legislation).
Where do you go to check out a builders’ license or supervisor’s registration?
We recommend a 2 step process:
(1) Ask the person to show you their photographic licence/registration card.
Each person who is a licenced building work contractor (“Licenced Contractor”) or registered building work supervisor (“Registered Supervisor”) is issued with a photographic licence/registration card by Consumer and Business Services. Each year, once the annual licence and/or registration fee is paid by the holder, a new card (or Certificate) is issued.
The photographic licence/registration card:
- is authorised by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs;
- is the same size as a drivers licence;
- is made of the same material as a drivers licence;
- states the full name of the licence/registration holder;
- states the licence/registration number;
- specifies the expiry date of the current licence/registration period;
- specifies whether it is in respect of a Supervisors Registration or Building Contractor’s Licence;
- carries a photograph (not more than 10 years old) of the licence holder; and
- has details of the scope of the licence/registration (including any conditions and limitations if relevant) on the reverse.
While you are being shown the card we suggest that you take note of the licence or registration holder’s full name and licence or registration number for future reference.
Note: Only individuals are issued with cards. Building Companies are issued with Certificates.
Certificates are A4 pieces of paper that:
- are authorised by the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs;
- state the full name of the licence/registration holder;
- state the Licence/registration number;
- specify the expiry date of the current licence/registration period;
- specify the date the licence/registration was first issued;
- specify whether it is in respect of a Supervisors Registration or Building Contractor’s Licence; and
- contain details of the conditions of the licence/registration (including any limitations if relevant) on the facing page.
(2) Check the person and their licence/registration through Consumer Business Services.
Once you know the full name (and hopefully have the licence/registration number) of the Licenced Contractor or Registered Supervisor we suggest that you undertake at least one additional check.
Consumer Business Services administers the (South Australian) Building Contractors Act 1995 and as part of the administration it maintains a register which enables members of the general public to find a licence and/or registration holder and then check whether a person or company is licensed (or registered as the case may be) to undertake the work or provide a service to you.
Searches of the register may be done by reference to either the name/location or licence number. For online search go to: https://secure.cbs.sa.gov.au/OccLicPubReg/LicenceSearch.php. Otherwise you can ask at the CBS which is located at 91 Grenfell Street, Adelaide or call them on 131882.
RED FLAG – If the individual is reluctant, resistant or refuses to show you their photographic licence (or registration) card it may be that they do not have a licence (or registration), their licence (or registration) has expired or it is inconsistent with the work they are contracting to perform (or supervise).
In this instance we suggest you go straight to Consumer Business Services and either conduct a search on line or call them and ask them to help you work out whether the person is properly licensed or registered.
What are you looking for when you do a search of a builder’s licence or supervisor’s registration?
The primary things you need to check are:
- Is the person licensed and/or registered?
- What is the listed class of the licence and/or registration?
- Has the licence and/or registration been surrendered?
- Has the licence and/or registration been suspended, cancelled or varied?
- Does the licence and/or registration number match up with the name of the person you are contemplating engaging?
- Are the conditions appropriate for the work to be performed and/or supervised?
- Are there limitations to the conditions (and if yes, what are they)?
What is meant by ‘classes of licence’ /‘classes of registration’ and ‘conditions’?
For both licensed building contractors and registered building supervisors there are 2 main classes set out in the Building work Contractors Act 1995.
Building work Contractors can hold a class of licence:
(1) authorising a person to carry on business as a building work contractor;
(2) authorising a person to carry on business as a building work contractor subject to conditions limiting the work that may be performed under the authority of the licence.
Building work Supervisors can hold a class of registration:
(1) authorising a person to supervise building work of any kind;
(2) subject to conditions limiting the work that may be supervised under the authority of the registration.
Note: Sections 7(2) and 13(2) of The Building work Contractors Act 1995 creates the capacity for conditions to be imposed that limit the scope of the work that may be performed or supervised.
How do you work out whether the conditions on the licence or registration are appropriate for the work to be performed?
The Building Work Contractors Act 1995 provides for many different kinds of work for which a holder may be licensed or registered. Consumer Business Services (“CBS”) also has a list of standard conditions.
A full list of the CBS standard conditions can be found here [http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/assets/LAR/occupational/standard_conditions_list.pdf].
Many of the standard conditions are self-explanatory and can easily be assessed as being appropriate or not. The main thing to watch is any exclusions that are listed in connection to a standard condition.
Exclusions are as the name suggests, they describe a portion or type of work that the licence/registration holder is not authorised to perform/supervise within the general condition.
A holder of a building contractor licence with a condition – Alterations and renovations (excluding bathrooms) means the holder can contract to perform:
• (Alterations) Structural or non-structural alterations to an existing building but excludes additions. This has no height or class of building restrictions.
• (Renovations) Makeovers of buildings or properties of all classes (e.g. kitchen or other room not including a bathroom), that doesn’t alter the use of the room or remove walls, doors or windows. Includes Commercial Building Work limited to Fitouts.
A holder of a building supervisor registration (only) with the same condition – Alterations and renovations (excluding bathrooms) means the holder can supervise but not perform the work described above.
A holder of both a building contractor licence and supervisor registration with a condition – Alterations and renovations (excluding bathrooms) means the holder can both contract to perform and supervise their own (or other sub-contractors) work described above.
In the above example, if the scope of the building work to be performed included a bathroom, then a separate building work contractor and supervisor would need to be contracted separately to perform and supervise that aspect of the work.
Consumer Business Services (“CBS”) has also produced a ‘general conditions’ list which describes the scope of work included in each standard condition which can be found here: [http://www.cbs.sa.gov.au/assets/LAR/occupational/standard_conditions_list.pdf].
RED FLAG – Using an unlicensed/unregistered or inappropriately licensed/registered person (or entity) exposes you to risk that the work performed and in some instances the materials used will not be of sufficient quality, quantity or standard to satisfy the prescribed performance criteria or the relevant Australian Standard(s). Rectification work to repair and/or replace substandard work and materials later on is a very costly exercise and can far outweigh any short term benefit you may have negotiated.
If you have any doubt about whether the conditions of the licence (or registration) are appropriate given your particular circumstances, we encourage you to call Consumer Business Services direct and ask them for help.
For further information, please contact the author.
This article is posted in Adelaide, South Australia by Tri-meridian Corporate & Commercial Law and is intended to be used as a guide only. It is not, and is not intended to be, advice on any specific matter. We do not accept responsibility for any acts or omissions resulting from reliance upon the content of this article. Before acting on the basis of any material in this article, we recommend that you consult your professional adviser.