Laws for building a house

When building a house, you’ll need to follow several laws and standards. Your builder or trade contractor may also need to be licensed.

Laws apply to the following residential building work:

  • new house
  • renovation and repairs
  • garage or shed
  • a pool
  • fencing
  • landscaping.

Choosing a builder or tradesperson

Generally, builders or tradespeople (trade contractors) who do work worth more than $3,300 must be licensed.
Some other trades must have licences regardless of value, such as plumbers and gasfitters. To find out if a builder or tradesmen is licensed, you can:

House plans

A building designer or architect can draw up plans for your house or renovation. Your builder may also draw up plans for your house.

All house plans, and some renovations and landscaping, need a building certifier’s approval. You may also need council approval. Check with a building certifier or your local council to see if you need building and/or planning approval for your work.

These house plans form part of the building contract.

All plans and specifications are subject to copyright and can’t be used by another trader.

You should discuss your plans with your building designer or architect during the design stage to ensure all parties are clear about the building work to be done.

Getting quotes

It’s worth getting 3 written quotes based on your plans.

Compare the quotes and ensure they include the same things. It’s best to get a fixed price. Beware: items in a quote that aren’t a fixed price may become expensive later.

A written quote can form the basis of a contract if you haven’t signed any other contract, and it sets out a fixed price and details of the work to be done.

If the domestic building work is valued at over $3,300, you’ll need a written contract. Read more about contracts.

Signing a contract

Your builder will ask you to sign a contract. You should get legal advice before signing anything.

You have the right to get a copy of the contract.

If the contract is for work worth more than $3,300, you’ll get a cooling-off period of 5 business days. This cooling-off period doesn't apply if you received legal advice before signing.

If you decide to withdraw from the contract, you must notify the builder in writing. This will involve a fee.

All contracts should include an estimate of when the work will be completed.

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) provides free plain English contract kits for work over $3,300 and another for work under $3,300.


Builders must pay the QBCC an insurance premium before starting work on certain residential construction work over $3,300. The QBCC should mail you a copy of the policy.

Building legislation

Find out what building legislation and codes affect you, including the Queensland Development Code and National Construction Code.

Decks and balconies

If your home has a deck or balcony, or you’re building or renovating one, you should read our safety tips for building or maintaining a deck or balcony in Queensland.

Sustainable housing

Sustainable housing laws make Queensland homes more comfortable to live in, use less water and energy, and help reduce Queensland’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Improved housing design and using energy-efficient fixtures can reduce your home’s ongoing running costs.

Read more about our sustainable housing laws.

More information