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5 Specialist trades you can’t do without

5 Specialist trades you can’t do without when renovating: it’s the law!

Thinking of renovating? You will quickly discover that you will be calling a variety of trades your new best friends. Depending on the nature and extent of your project, cabinetmakers, tilers, plasterers, painters, glaziers and bricklayers will all play a role. But do you know which categories of building works require you by law to only engage licenced trades? When is it illegal to do DIY works?

Just because you can do it yourself, doesn’t mean you should. The consequences could be drastic!

  1. You run the risk of breaching the law.
  2. Your mortgage documents may require you to use licensed trades.
  3. A small mistake can have a large impact, with long-term consequences.
  4. Insurers may not cover unlicensed work.
  5. You will not have compliance certificates to show when selling the property.
  6. Buyers like to have confidence in the quality of the works undertaken.
  7. This may affect the sale price when it comes to selling!

To avoid these problems with your project, here are 5 key jobs you should definitely leave to licensed professionals.

1. Waterproofing

Faulty waterproofing is one of the top 3 building defects in Australia. The Building Code of Australia and the Australian Standard AS3740 sets out the specified minimum and mandatory requirements that have to be complied with. Check your waterproofing contractor is accredited or licensed to ensure the waterproofing is done correctly. They should also provide you with a certificate on the completion of their works.

2. Electricals & Smoke Alarms

Aside from being potentially life-threatening, undertaking electrical works can be illegal if you are not a professional. While you may be thinking lights, stoves and wiring, don’t forget about your smoke alarms! Although it is easy enough to buy smoke detectors in-store or online, there are strict regulations around Australia regarding smoke detector placements and installations. It is important to remember that DIY electrical work cannot be retrospectively certified, even if it is compliant and checked by a qualified tradesperson!

3. Plumbing & Drainage

Like electricians, this is one trade that is non-negotiable. It is important that you select one that is licenced in the state that you are performing the works in. Most states also require you to get a compliance certificate for all plumbing works carried out. This will provide you with a written guarantee that the works comply with the relevant Australian Standard. It will also cover you for any defects!

4. Gas Fitting

Unlicensed gas work is illegal in all states and territories! When it comes to installing, relocating or repairing gas appliances always use a licenced gasfitter. This includes any work relating to hot water systems, heaters, barbeques or kitchen stoves. Although gas fitting licence regulations differ across Australia, you can easily check by asking to see their gas fitting card or jump online and visit Master Plumbers Australia. There is a difference between plumbers and gasfitters: a qualified licenced plumber can provide gas fitting services. In contrast, a gasfitter can’t offer any plumbing services. They are restricted to installation and maintenance jobs.

5. Air-conditioning & Refrigeration

Unless you are licenced by the Australian Refrigeration Council it is illegal for you to handle fluorocarbon refrigerants. This is because the refrigerants contained in air-conditioners and refrigerators are considered extremely harmful to the environment – many damage the ozone layer, while others are extremely potent greenhouse gases. The Australian Refrigeration Council has a handy website that allows you to search for a professional in your area who holds a Refrigerant Handling Licence.

While the specifics for each of the above varies from state to state, the broad parameters apply. You will be well served to check with your local Department of Consumer protection to confirm the specifics relevant to your property. Another good resource is, which boasts an index of over 48 licencing authorities. Whatever you do, remember to do this before you start any works!

Disclaimer: Please note that any information in this blog is purely general in nature and provided as a guide only. Different States and Territories around Australia have different rules and laws that apply to licenced trades.