Each state in Australia has its own decking license regulations and standards that homeowners and commercial property owners should follow when building a deck.
These rules are meant to ensure that you won’t end up with a collapsed balcony or deck.
In this article, we covered everything you need to know about building standards across the different states in the nation. This guide will help ensure that you meet the standards set by your local council and avoid possible litigation.
What type of license is required of a deck builder?
Each state has its own decking license regulations for deck builders. The answer depends on several factors, including:
- The size of the proposed deck
- The height of the deck
- Local council regulations
- State licensing authorities
Some states allow builders to construct a deck if they hold a restricted building license. In others, only fully licensed builders can build decks. In this article, we covered everything you need to know about decking builders’ across various states in Australia.
NOTE: These rules do vary from time to time and we have done our best to provide up to date information. Always double check your local government for confirmation.
New South Wales
NSW has some of the strictest builder’s license regulations across the nation. Builders can only get their licenses from the New South Wales Department of Fair Trading.
Any residential building project exceeding $1,000 in value, including labour and materials, can only be carried out by licensed builders. This is typically the case with timber or composite decking projects. When hiring a licensed builder in NSW, look for a person who has more than one type of license.
- The person responsible for overseeing the decking project should have a Qualified Building Supervisor license.
- The company you employ to complete the decking project would need a Contractor’s License.
- New South Wales requires building partnership or companies to appoint Nominated Supervisors to carry out building work.
In Victoria, any project on a residential building exceeding $5,000—inclusive of labour and material—should be overseen and carried out by a registered Building Practitioner. There are three types of builders licenses in the state:
- Domestic Builder – Unlimited (DB-U) can carry out all domestic building projects.
- Domestic Builder – Limited (DB-L) can carry out a limited scope of building projects. Typically, a person with a DB-L license can build a deck, as long as the project does not require the skills of a DB-U.
- Domestic Builder – Manager (DB-M) oversees building projects. However, he cannot do decking or building work.
In Victoria, contracts are legally binding to the contractor and the homeowner. To avoid potential litigation, ensure that your contract for the decking project is complete. Make sure the project also comes with a warranty for the materials and workmanship.
Note: For some projects, they do not require a registered Builder Practitioner. This includes non-structural building projects, such as the installations of windows.
Homeowners in Queensland would need to get a building permit before carrying out projects above $3,300, labour and materials included. These projects include decking and other minor renovations.
Queensland would not issue a building permit to homeowners that do not hire a licensed builder or carry an owner-builder permit. Builders hoping to get their license must go to the Queensland Building Services Authority (BSA). Should anything go wrong, the BSA will hold the builder accountable.
Builders in Queensland may carry a restricted or unrestricted builder’s license. As long as their license allows them to build decks, you can hire them for your project.
Note: It is possible to hire an unlicensed builder in Queensland for smaller deck projects. However, homeowners would need to bring their case to the courts should anything go wrong.
In South Australia, a “deck” means any horizontal platform that is free standing or attached to a building. In this state, decking projects can only be carried out by or under the supervision of licensed builders.
- Building Supervisors are allowed to supervise the work of others.
- Building Contractors may sign building contracts, carry out the work, and supervise others’.
Builders in South Australia can get their licenses from the Consumer and Building Services (CBS) sector of the South Australian Attorney General’s Department.
A Building Contractor who is not registered as a Building Supervisor must nominate a registered supervisor to oversee the project.
Note: When hiring a builder, make sure the contractor holds a contractor’s and a supervisor’s license for decking work.
Unlike other states, homeowners in Western Australia are not required to hire a licensed builder to build a deck. However, they must get a building permit and sub-contract a registered Building Contractor to oversee their work.
One exception to this law is if the total cost of the project exceeds $20,000. These types of projects must be carried out by a registered Building Practitioner.
If you are an owner-builder, you can carry out your decking project without supervision, but only after you’ve submitted a detailed plan to your local council. The council will then grant you Planning Approval and a Building Permit.
Your decking plans must meet Building Code Australia (BCA) standards. After completion, your decking would be inspected to ensure you have met the criteria.
Note: Owner-builders would be responsible for the project, including its planning and six years after its completion. Owner-builders may also face legal issues if the decking does not meet local council regulations.
Tasmania’s Department of Justice oversees all building work made in the state. The agency is also responsible for issuing accreditation to builders. Deck builders would need Builder and Construction Manager accreditation to carry out decking projects.
Besides these accreditations, the builders are required to prove they can supervise and carry out building work. They would also have current Public Liability Insurance and Professional Indemnity Insurance.
Tasmania requires its Building Practitioners to renew their licenses annually. Before their accreditations are renewed, they will go through the Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) Training. This program ensures Building Practitioners are updated with current building practices.
Australian Capital Territory
In the Australian Capital Territory, decking is part of the building trade. There are four different classifications of licensed builders in this state:
- Class A Builders (unlimited) can carry out all types of building projects.
- Class B Builder (medium-rise) can only work on building three storeys or lower.
- Class C Builders (low-rise) can only perform building work on establishments two storeys or lower.
- Class D Builders can only carry out non-structural projects.
If you’re looking for a licensed builder in ACT, you will see their licensing information on their Construction Occupation License issued by the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA).
Typically, decking builders would hold Class A, B, or C license. Some may be restricted to decking projects and other specific building works.
In the Northern Territory, homeowners are required to get a building permit before they can build a deck. Building permits are granted after homeowners submit a detailed plan of their decking project. The proposal should be accompanied by proof that your decking meets BCA standards and local regulations.
The Building Practitioners Board registers builders. If you plan to hire a licensed builder for the decking project, look for a person holding a Building Contractor (registered) license or a Building Contractor (unregistered) license.
Note: Height off ground by each local code will enforce the installation of LEGAL balustrading that is required for all decks:
- Over a certain height off ground
- Next to a pool
**These points do change so use this as a guide only and always refer to your local authority.