How to tell if your builder is not registered

  • Article by: Sally Wood

It’s essential in Victoria to hire a registered builder for domestic building work worth over $10,000. However, even smaller jobs can require extensive training and should only be carried out by a licensed professional.

Hiring a builder that is unregistered is fraught with risk. From dodgy pricing schemes through to critical safety hazards resulting from poor installation, it pays to ensure your builder is legitimate.

The Victorian Building Authority (VBA) has released six signs that suggest your builder is not registered.

vba find a builder

You Can’t Find Them on VBA’s ‘Find A Practitioner’ Tool

Every registered builder should be searchable by name on the VBA’s online ‘Find a Practitioner’ tool. If your builder’s name isn’t returning any results, alarm bells should be ringing.

You can also use this tool to see if your builder has faced any disciplinary action.

They Don’t Request a Written Contract

It’s important to lay down a written contract prior to your construction works commencing. In fact, your builder should be the one to request this.

Establish the rules, schedule regular progress updates with site visits or photos, and make sure that any changes must be agreed upon in writing.

Having a written agreement between both parties provides something to fall back on in the case of price hikes, deadline blowouts and poor workmanship.

They Ask For Large Sums Up Front

If your builder is asking for big upfront payments or even different stages during your build, this is not only questionable, but illegal.

In accordance with Victorian laws, when it comes to projects worth over $20,000, a builder cannot ask you for a deposit that is greater than 5% of the entire project cost.

build in progress

They Refuse to Provide Examples Of Prior Work

It’s common to want to see examples of a professional’s prior work before to engaging them – don’t let a shady builder tell you otherwise.

If you find your builder road blocking you from seeing evidence of their past jobs, this is a major red flag.

At the very least, a registered builder should be capable of clearly explaining recent work or providing a contact to former clients.

They Won’t Show You Their VBA ID Card

Much like any position of authority, a registered builder will be in possession of an identification card. Their VBA ID will clearly articulate who they are and what classes of work they are registered to do.

It’s always a good idea to research any builders that you’re interested in using, and to confirm their credentials. A registered builder will have no problem in producing the relevant ID.

No Proof of Building Insurance

Before works are commenced on your home, your builder should give you a copy of their domestic building insurance policy or a certificate of currency that covers your home.

Hiring a registered builder guarantees that their insurance will be responsible for anything that goes wrong during construction. It will also be the builder’s responsibility to ensure the work legislation compliant.

For peace of mind over your building needs, homeshelf has a comprehensive network of registered Australian builders. You can find homeshelf's directory of builders here.

Published: 06/08/2021
Author: Sally Wood