When you need a trust account | Queensland Building and Construction Commission

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Criteria for a trust account

A contracted party (head contractor) is required to have a project trust account for their contract if all of the following apply:

  • the contracting party is as specified for the relevant phase AND
  • the contract price is as specified for the relevant phase  AND
  • more than 50% of the contract price is for project trust work AND
  • there is at least one subcontractor engaged for all or part of the contracted work.


Even if all four of the above criteria are met, some contracts are exempt from requiring a project trust account:

  • contracts relating to small-scale residential construction work
  • contracts solely for maintenance work
  • contracts between the state government and a state authority
  • contracts solely for professional design, advisory or contract administration work 
  • short term contracts for work that is to be completed in less than 90 days
  • subcontracts (unless the subcontractor and head contractor are related entities).

Related entities 

If the head contractor for an eligible contract engages a subcontractor who is a related entity (e.g. family member, corporate relationship, etc.), and the subcontractor further subcontracts all or part of the work, the subcontractor must also have a project trust account.

Other scenarios requiring trusts

There are also some situations where a project trust may be required after a contract amendment or variation or if there are multiple contracts between the same parties for the same or adjacent sites.

Not sure? Use our tool

Not sure if you need a project trust account? The QBCC has developed a project trust account tool to help you quickly and easily determine if your contract is eligible and requires a project trust account. 

TOOL: Do I need a trust account?

Project trust work

Project trust work includes particular work relating to a building or swimming pool. A building is a fixed structure that has a roof or is wholly or partly enclosed by walls. 

Below is a list of construction work that may require a trust account if all the other relevant qualifying criteria are met. 

  • Erection or construction of a building.
  • Renovations, extensions or repairs of a building.
  • Lighting and electrical work.
  • Water supply, sewerage or drainage.
  • Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning work.
  • Installing prefabricated components.
  • Wet pour rubber.
  • Site work related to construction work (e.g. the construction of retaining walls).
  • Soil testing and site classification.
  • Earthmoving and excavation.
  • Scaffolding erection, management and removal.
  • Preparing plans or specifications for project trust work.
  • Work performed by an architect.
  • Work performed by a registered professional engineer.
  • Work performed by a surveyor.
  • Mechanical services work.
  • Fire protection work.
  • Inspection and treatment of termite infestation or management systems.
  • Contract administration (when they have also designed the building).

When associated with the building:

  • carrying out a building inspection
  • building certification work
  • energy efficiency assessments
  • fire safety advice.
  • Swimming pool construction, installation, alterations and repairs (whether associated with a building or not).

When retention trust accounts are required

A contracting party is required to have a retention trust account if all of the following apply:

  • a project trust is required for the head contract (that is, the head contractor has or must have a project trust account)
  • the contracting party (that is, the person withholding the retention amount) is as specified for the relevant phase
  • the contracting party withholds retention amounts in the form of cash from the contracted party/parties.

If the above criteria are met, the retentions withheld by the contracting party are ‘eligible’ cash retentions and MUST be held in a retention trust account.

However, even if all the above criteria are met, a Commonwealth, Queensland government, state authority or local government contracting party is exempt from the requirement to have a retention trust account.

Last reviewed: 10 Sep 2021 Last published: 10 Sep 2021
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