With trades in short supply, it can be tempting to jump in and start renovating your home by yourself. But the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) this week warned that people considering DIY renovations need to know when to hire a professional.
As a general rule, all states have a limit to work that can be carried out without needing a professional – and they are all different. In Victoria, owners need to use a registered builder for most domestic building work worth more than $10,000, including parts and labour. In South Australia that is $12,000, in NSW $5,000.
In Queensland, the QBCC (Queensland Building and Construction Commission) is even more specific, stipulating that ‘unless an exemption applies, a QBCC contractor’s licence is required to carry out or undertake to carry out the construction, erection, renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of an accordion, concertina, or operable wall if the value of the work exceeds $3,300 (including the cost of materials)’.
VBA’s State Building Surveyor Andrew Cialini says anyone who uses an unregistered builder or tradesperson to carry out work over the stipulated value risks having no protection from poor quality work.
“If you do it yourself or hire someone who isn’t registered, the work done won’t be covered by domestic building insurance, and this could cost you significantly more in the long run”, Cialini advises.
“Do your research and ask for some key information up front, so there are no shocks later on.”
Cialini also warns consumers to be wary of anyone offering their building or plumbing services via online marketplaces and through apps.
“With the rise of online apps and websites where anyone can advertise their services without qualifications, it’s important to always check the credentials of anyone you hire”, he says.
Cialini says that aspiring home DIY-ers do not have to use a registered builder for jobs only involving one of the following types of work, regardless of cost: floor and wall tiling, glazing, painting and decorating, installing insulation, sheet plastering, solid plastering and rendering, floor finishing and covering, attaching external blinds, awnings, security screens, insect screens and balustrades, erecting poles, masts, aerials and antennae.
“However, if the job requires two or more of these trade skills, or if you want to undertake any other task that exceeds the $10,000 limit, you must hire a registered practitioner”, he adds.
But that is in Victoria, so check with the regulatory body in your state to be sure you are not taking on more work than is covered by law. The regulator’s website will usually allow you to also check whether the builder or plumber you’re considering is registered and whether they’ve faced any disciplinary action.