21-23 June 2024
Perth Convention & Exhibition Centre

Follow the four C’s: Your keys to a successful build

10 questions you should ask when engaging in a building designer

Building a home or undertaking a renovation is a huge investment. For many of us, it’s the biggest single financial commitment that we’ll make in our lives. It can also seem like a daunting process, with so many factors to consider. Follow the path of the four C’s – check, contracts, communication and completion. These are your keys to a successful, stress-free building project.


Check that your tradie or builder is licensed. This is essential if your work is valued at over $5,000. If the project involves specialist work such as electrical or plumbing you must have a licensed tradie or builder regardless of the value of the project. It only takes a minute to find a list of licensed professionals. Simply visit https://www.onegov.nsw.gov.au/publicregister

Your tradie is licensed? Great! Now for the next step in contracting a hassle-free build.


The type of contract required depends on the value of the work. Is your job $5,000-$20,000? You need a basic small jobs contract. Over $20,000 it gets a little more complex, with a comprehensive ‘major works’ contract, which needs to include additional information such as a progress payment schedule. The builder or tradie must also supply you with a copy of their certificate for insurance under the Home Building Compensation Fund – before they take any money. Check that the certificate is legitimate at www.hbcf.nsw.gov.au

A few other important contractual points to check:

  • That the work you’re having done is all included in the contract and that you fully understand it.
  • That the price is fully stated in the contract or, if it’s unknown, that a warning is given.
  • Double check – you’ve already checked that the tradie is licensed, now it’s time to ensure that the name and number on that license is the same as what’s in the contract.
  • Make sure the deposit is within the legal limit of 10%.
  • Understand cooling-off provisions and in what circumstances the contract can be terminated.
  • Time periods – check the start and finish. Do you know your rights, as well as the rights of the builder or tradie, should the project run over time?


Effective communication is just as important to your home as the key to the front door. Discuss issues with your builder or tradie as the work progresses, keeping a record of conversations. Get snap happy – take photos of the various stages of work as they are completed, and check that this is happening according to the appropriate stage.

Hopefully, the process will all be smooth sailing, but of course things don’t always go according to plan. The NSW Fair Trading website includes some information and advice for resolving building disputes here.


The work is complete, hooray! Which brings us to our fourth and final C – you guessed it – completion. But your job isn’t done just yet – it’s time for the final inspection with your builder or tradie. You should always check that everything has been delivered according to the plans and specifications in the contract, which you may want to do with the help of an independent builder or contractor.

Discuss any defects with the builder or tradie. It’s important to understand what distinguishes a major from a minor defect. Finally, ensure that your builder has provided you with all the necessary certificates and documents.

You can find comprehensive information on the building process, on the Fair Trading website.