In a campaign released to coincide with the start of summer, Consumer and Business Services is encouraging consumers to, "do their homework" – and make sure they know their rights and obligations when hiring a tradesperson.

Their press release says:

"While most tradies do the right thing, there are some unscrupulous operators out there who may try to make a quick buck by working unlicensed or providing substandard work. People working without the right licence are breaking the law, and putting your rights and safety at risk

You can check whether someone is licensed by asking to see their licence card, or by checking the Licensing Public Register on the CBS website at If you’re not sure, contact CBS on 131 882.

If you’re looking to hire a tradie, there are few things to keep in mind.

If it’s a smaller job, and worth less than $12,000 (for example, painting, installing wardrobes or renovating parts of your home), a written contract isn’t legally required. There are also no rules around the minimum or maximum deposit amounts that can be requested to undertake the work - so exercise your best judgement in relation to the type of work being undertaken.

And remember, it’s still advisable to get a contract – or at least a written quote – and keep copies of any correspondence to ensure it’s clear exactly what you’ve arranged with the builder or tradesperson.

When the work costs $12,000 or more:


·            there must be a written contract

·            you are entitled to a five day cooling-off period

·            indemnity insurance is required for any work that needs council approval

·            a maximum deposit of $1,000 can be requested or if the work is over $20,000, up to 5% of the contract price.

Outside of the deposit, never pay for work that is yet to be completed or for materials that are yet to be delivered. If your builder or tradie seeks more money in advance, it could be a sign that they are having cash flow problems. If you pay more in advance, you expose yourself to an increased risk if the builder doesn’t finish the job.

Regardless of the price, builders or tradespeople must have a licence to do repairs or renovations around your home in the vast majority of cases. There are exceptions for jobs that aren’t really building work - such as putting in new plants or trimming large hedges. But for anything structural in a garden, such as a retaining wall, a licence is required. 

To report an unlicensed tradesperson call CBS between 9am and 5pm on 131 882 or online at "

AuthorRay Dennis