Why should you always use a licensed contractor?
With all the do-it-yourself programs around, people can be forgiven for believing anyone can deliver an award-winning home renovation in a weekend. The reality is very different, as are the potential pitfalls of using someone unlicensed.
Using an unlicensed contractor increases the likelihood of defective and unfinished work. It may void your access to Queensland Home Warranty Insurance, a scheme designed to assist home owners when these issues occur.
Licensed contractors have proven they have the skills and experience to perform the work they are licensed for, so they are the obvious choice for your next construction project.
How to spot an unlicensed contractor?
One telltale sign of an unlicensed contractor is the lack of detail provided in their advertising. They may also promote a low price for their services to help disguise this fact.
All licensed contractors in Queensland are required by law to provide specific details in any advertising for their services.
These details are:
- contractor’s name - a contractor can be a person or a business. This must match the name the QBCC licence is registered under.
- the QBCC licence number - this is unique to that contractor.
If you are after general maintenance work under $3,300, the contractor must state in their ad that they can only do work up to this value.
So, if you see an ad without these details, there’s a chance they may be unlicensed.
Below are examples of advertising that you might see, one good, one bad. To avoid using the name or numbers of actual contractors, we’ve kept the details generic.
How to find a licensed contractor?
The easiest way to find a licensed contractor is using the QBCC’s free ‘Find a local contractor’ online search. It allows you to select the type of work you want done, as well as a location and radius. Your results will be a list of all contractors in that area, along with their licence class and contact details.
It also allows you to use the licensee search, a function that offers more information, including a complete licence history. You may find this helpful to narrow down the licensed contractors you’re considering.
What else is important to know?
When engaging a contractor, you should also consider the laws around payment for services. Many people don’t know that the amount of money you pay before work begins, or for stages of work, is capped in Queensland. This protection helps reduce the risk of large sums being paid for little or no work done.
Often, unlicensed people will request large deposits upfront and do a poor job, not complete the work, or not show up at all.
If a job is under $20,000, you only need to pay a 10 per cent deposit, unless most of the work is completed offsite, then you pay 20 per cent. You can find more about deposits and payments for stages of work on our paying for work web page.
Reporting unlicensed work
The QBCC encourages our licensees, home owners, neighbours and everyone in between to provide information and, most importantly, evidence of unlicensed building work. If you become aware of unlicensed building work, we encourage you to report it to us using the Notification of Offence form (PDF) on our website.
If you have any questions, please get in touch by submitting a general enquiry or calling us on 139 333.