Winsomere House - architect Paul Somerford

Building contract

If your project is above $30,000 in cost, your builder MUST give you a Building Contract, together with the ‘Prescribed Checklist‘ that includes a number of other items. If your project is worth less than $30,000 you can still ask for a contract, and we strongly recommend you do. The main builder organisations offer their own contracts but you don’t have to use these and there are alternatives available. Click here to go to the Buildsafe website where you can download contracts for free. Ensure your lawyer looks the contract over before signing.

Choose the Best Building Contract Option For You

You have three main options: full contract, labour-only or a managed labour-only. A full contract can make your life easier because there is one price that covers all the work and there is one person to go to if there are any problems.

Labour-only contracts have substantial responsibilities for the homeowner and therefore potential liability for the compliance of the building work. If you don’t have experience or qualifications, ensure there is an independent onsite supervisor (usually your Design LBP or Registered Architect) taking responsibility for the conformance to the plans and compliance with the code. If project managing your own job and something goes wrong you may end up liable. Clear and concise contract documentation is absolutely essential to clearly spell out the responsibilities of each party. The new Building Act introduced in November 2013 makes having a contract mandatory for projects over $30,000; go here for more.

1. Full Building Contract

This includes:

  • the builders labour
  • all materials
  • subcontractors
  • liaison with the architect/designer
  • arranging inspections
  • managing the whole building project

2. Labour only

The builder is responsible only for building work – you manage the rest. This means you are responsible for:

  • supervising the building work
  • organising sub-contractors and materials
  • the Health and Safety Plan.

3. Managed labour only

This contract is a hybrid of the two.