Residential Building Licences in NSW and other contractor licences are regulated by NSW Fair Trading and, for Residential Building Works, are governed by the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) [the HBAct].

It is important that if you are undertaking residential building works greater than $5,000 in value that you have a building licence as there are significant penalties that can result from undertaking unlicensed residential building work.

Below you will find a summary of Contractor licence classes, practical experience requirements, and qualifications, along with information around the mutual recognition systems in place for those that hold an interstate or New Zealand building licence who wish to operate in NSW.

Morrissey Law can assist and advise on various building and contractor licencing matters, including responding to Fair Trading and acting on your behalf in appealing licence revocations and appealing suspensions or refusals to renew a licence. In addition, we advise our clients on their obligations in respect of licencing and what is required of their employees.

If you have any questions or would like assistance around any builder licencing matters, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.


NSW Contractor Licence Classes

Every licence or certificate will belong to one of the following classes:

  1. General building work (any work that is residential building works);
  2. Other building work (eg. kitchen, bathroom and laundry renovations);
  3. Specialist work (eg. air-conditioning and refrigeration); and
  4. Trade work (eg. bricklaying, carpentry, excavating).

These are three different types of licences available in NSW:

  • Contractor Licence;
  • Qualified Supervisor Certificate; and
  • Endorsed Contractor Licence.

Below you will find the qualifications and experience required for a general building work licence below. However, it is important to note that each application will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and can deviate from the below.

Practical Experience Requirements for Residential Building Licences in NSW

To be eligible for a general building work licence, you must have the equivalent of two – years based full-time work experience.

There are generally four main options available to satisfy Fair Trading that you meet the practical experiment requirement, which are:

  1. Being employed by a building contractor as an employee; or
  2. Holding an endorsed contractor licence and have been engaged as a subcontractor; or
  3. Being the holder of a qualified supervisor certificate, working as a nominated supervisor, and the contractor licence for which you are the nominated supervisor, includes the category of full general building and there is also another nominated supervisor to cover the category of building; or
  4. Being the holder of a qualified supervisor certificate, working as a nominated supervisor, and the contractor licence for which you are the nominated supervisor, has been subcontracting to a general building contractor.

The following must be applicable for all four of those options:

  1. The building contractor must have a contractor licence that allows it to undertake full general building work; and
  2. You are being supervised and directed by someone else who has a qualified supervisor certificate (in the area you have gained experience) or holds an endorsed contractor licence and this is confirmed on a referee’s statement; and
  3. You are paid for your work.

When assessing your experience, Fair Trading will consider whether the majority of it was completed within 10 years of lodging your application and whether you were working on multiple sites at the same time.

Qualification Requirements for Residential Building Licences in NSW

You must also hold the relevant qualifications which is either a Certificate IV in Building and Construction or a degree in building, construction, construction management, construction project management, construction economics, applied science (building) or quantity surveying.

If you completed your course prior to 18 August 2008, there are superseded qualifications that Fair Trading may accept.

Interstate and New Zealand Residential Building Licences in NSW

Builders with interstate or New Zealand licences are permitted to operate in NSW under the building licence Mutual Recognition systems.

These systems will allow your qualifications to be recognised, either through the Mutual Recognition or the Automatic Mutual Recognition systems.

Mutual Recognition

The Mutual Recognition system allows individuals who are registered to practice an occupation in one state or territory to be able to practice an equivalent occupation in another State or Territory.

If you have a licence from another State or Territory or from New Zealand, you will need to notify the local registration authority, in this case, NSW Fair Trading, and apply to have your licence recognised.

A copy of the Applicant’s checklist and form is accessible here.

Automatic Mutual Recognition

The Automatic Mutual Recognition system allows individuals who hold a specific licence to work in other states under that licence.

If you are working in NSW, the recognised interstate licence will be subject to the same laws as an NSW licence holder and NSW Fair Trading will be able to take disciplinary action and enforcement action for non-compliance.

A list of automatic mutual recognition licences is accessible here.

If you have an automatic mutual recognition licence, you will be eligible to apply to be the nominated qualified supervisor for a NSW contractor company or partnership licence.


Contact Morrissey Law + Advisory today for assistance or advice on your NSW Builders Licence.


Morrissey Law + Advisory communications are only intended to provide commentary and general information as at the date of publication. They are for reference purposes only, do not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Formal legal advice should always be obtained about particular transactions, contracts or matters of interest before taking any action based on this communication. Authors and contributors may not be admitted in all State and Territories.