Choosing a builder or tradesperson

Builders and tradespeople are licenced to do different jobs. You need to first make sure you have the right person to do your job.

The difference between a builder and tradesperson:


Many builders today don’t actually do building work themselves. Builders or building contractors:

  • manage and coordinate home building or renovation projects
  • manage the purchase and delivery of materials
  • coordinate the work of subcontractors they use for the project


A tradesperson carries out work in a particular field in the home building industry. A tradesperson can include, but is not limited to:

  • concreters
  • bricklayers
  • carpenters
  • electricians
  • plumbers
  • roof tilers
  • plasterers
  • tilers
  • painters
  • fencers
  • gasfitters

An example of the difference: If you want to add another bedroom or build a new home, you need a builder to organise the tradespeople to do the work. If you want your gutters replaced or your plumbing fixed, you need a tradesperson.

Finding a builder

There are different ways you can find a builder or tradesperson. These include:

  • use online directories
  • ask people you know for their personal recommendations
  • ask other people in the industry
  • ask the relevant industry association for a list of names
  • look for advertisements on television or radio, or in print articles

NSW Fair Trading has some questions to ask, which can help you select a builder or tradesperson.

Do a licence check

In NSW, only a builder or tradesperson who is licenced is allowed to carry out building work over $5000.

All specialist work, regardless of its cost, must also only be done by a tradesperson licensed in the relevant category of specialist work.  Specialist work includes:

  • electrical wiring
  • disconnection and reconnection of fixed electrical equipment
  • plumbing
  • draining
  • gasfitting
  • air conditioning and refrigeration work (except plug-in appliances)

An advantage of using a licensed person is the safety net for consumers and in case of a dispute, the option to go to NSW Fair Trading.

You should always check your builder or tradesperson is licensed before you hire them.

You can check your choice is licensed by using the online licence checker. It will show you background information about your choice of tradie, both current and historical.

Watch this YouTube video on checking licences:

Further information

There are different types of licences and qualifications for different home building jobs. NSW Fair Trading has more information on the types of licences and qualifications.