Whether you're building a house for a homeowner, or working in the commercial sector on high-rises, you need a written contract between yourself and your client or subcontractor. This includes head contracts, subcontracts and sub-subcontracts (i.e. contracts between subcontractors).
When you need a contract
When you need a written contract depends on whether you are undertaking commercial building work or domestic building work.
Before you sign a contract
Before you sign a contract you should:
- carefully check all contract papers (including plans and specifications)
- seek legal advice to ensure you understand your rights and obligations.
If the project is domestic building building work, read our guide below containing general information about domestic building contracts and the relevant Queensland legislation.
Domestic building contracts—information for owners and contractors (PDF, 918KB)
Which contract to use
To comply with the relevant Queensland legislation, you have a few contract options:
- use one of our contracts
- use a contract developed by a major industry association
- develop your own contract—but you must obtain legal advice to ensure it is compliant.
The QBCC produces a range of domestic building contracts, and a commercial subcontract, which include all forms and schedules necessary to enable you to conveniently document and carry out your building project.
Warning about using your own contract
If you want to use your own written agreement, it’s essential you get legal advice first. The contract requirements for domestic building work are much more detailed for the contract requirements for commercial work. You risk prosecution, fines, or financial loss if you go use a contract without making sure that it complies with the Queensland legislation.
Warning against using old or interstate subcontracts
Recent changes to relevant Commonwealth and State legislation can make it inappropriate or even legally dangerous to use older contracts (especially those dated prior to July 2018) or contracts produced in a different jurisdiction (e.g. contracts from a different State or even from overseas).
Change in termination rules
A legislative change which applies to all contracts entered after 1 July 2018, limits the ability of a contracting party to immediately terminate a contract because the other party is experiencing financial difficulties and taking steps to avoid bankruptcy or (in the case of a company) liquidation.
The QBCC strongly recommends that, before signing, contractors seek legal advice regarding the termination clauses of any contract they intend to use for building work, especially if the contract is dated prior to July 2018. Termination of any contract is a significant step which should not be taken without prior legal advice from an experienced lawyer.
Offence to not put contract in writing
A contractor commits an offence if they don't use a written contract which complies with the requirements of the QBCC act for regulated building. QBCC may prosecute or take disciplinary action and apply demerit points. This can lead to loss of licence and financial loss for the contractor.