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New Builders' Registration in Northern Territory

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New Builders' Registration in Northern Territory

July 2006

Megan Macpherson

Northern Territorians facing their biggest financial decision – building a house - will now be protected through new laws ensuring all residential builders are registered. From 3 July, 2006, the Building Act prescribes that residential building work can only be done by a registered residential building contractor or, in some cases, an owner-builder.

“These initiatives deliver on an important Government election commitment to provide builders’ registration in the Territory’s residential construction industry,” Planning and Lands Minister Dr Chris Burns said.

While other parts of Australia have been subject to this kind of legislation for years, the Northern Territory have been rolling out their Building Act 2004 and amendments made in 2005 over the last few years, finishing with compulsory home warranty insurance by the beginning of 2007. Dr Burns recognises the stability required by Northern Territorians when undertaking construction on their property.

“Buying a house is usually the largest and most significant financial investment undertaken by any individual,” said Dr Chris Burns.  “The introduction of builders’ registration - followed by home warranty insurance - will provide essential protection for consumers. It also provides greater certainty in the building process by requiring that residential building works be covered by a written contract specifying minimum conditions which are designed to provide the consumer with additional protection. Furthermore, a building certifier will be required to undertake six mandatory inspections to ensure the building work is being carried out in accordance with the requirements of the Building Act,” he said. “The new building regime is being introduced after extensive consultation with industry, including the Territory Construction Association and the Housing Industry Association, for the benefit of the consumer and the further development of the industry.”

Home Warranty Insurance (covering non-completion for single dwellings and non-compliance for all residential development up to and including three storeys) is to commence in January 2007, subject to suitable competitive products being available in the market. Home Warranty Insurance will cover the additional expense associated with engaging another registered builder in the event of the original builder not being able to complete the work because of death, disappearance or insolvency.

It is important to understand exactly what it is meant by the term building works, to determine whether you need a registered builder or not for the job.

Prescribed building works for Part 4A of the Act are:

  • new single houses and new residential units in residential buildings to any height;
  • verandahs, garages and carports built as part of new single dwellings and residential units;
  • extensions such as livings areas, bedrooms and enclosed attached garages to existing single houses and residential units; and
  • retaining walls associated with the actual structure of a single house or residential unit; AND
  • where the cost is above $12,000.
Prescribed building works are NOT:
  • renovations or alterations to existing buildings, including renovations to bathrooms and kitchens where there is no increase in the floor area;
  • free standing sheds or fences;
  • retaining walls not associated with the actual single house or residential unit;
  • verandahs or open carports being added to existing single houses or residential units;
  • commercial or industrial buildings; and
  • mixed use commercial and residential buildings.

(NOTE: these exclusions do NOT alter the requirements for building permits)

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