Challenges to becoming a registered builder and how to overcome them

Construction is one of the largest industries in Australia. A significant part of this is the fact that there are so many different jobs that can be attained, and they all have their own requirements which may differ from the next. Part of the excitement of working in construction is unpredictability. No two days are the same, and this can be said for not just the participants in the industry, but for the roles they are ascribed. For instance, what a carpenter does cannot be compared to a construction manager, electrician and so on. 


However, with diversity comes challenges. It is not necessarily easy to become part of the industry, as it takes time and commitment. This rings especially true for the role of a builder. Builders are not specialized. This is because they have a broad range of knowledge and experience to draw from, so they could be classified as a jack of all trades. This enables them to work on a variety of projects which they deem to be of interest. 


With such scope to cover, it is no secret that becoming a registered builder is quite the task. In this blog, we outline the challenges to becoming a registered builder, and what you can do to overcome them. 



Getting a white card


Whilst not the most difficult task, obtaining a white card to become a registered builder is a challenge nonetheless. A white card, also known as a construction induction card, is a requirement that grants you access to construction zones, as well as carrying out construction work. This normally takes one day to complete.



Completing courses


This section of becoming a registered builder is probably the most challenging from a financial and mental perspective. Becoming learned takes time, effort and resources. This is why it is imperative to have completed sufficient education to progress on the path to becoming a builder. 


The most common course to complete to become a builder is the Certificate IV in Building and Construction. Certificate IV is a level of the Australian Qualifications Framework (AQF) which is used to separate qualifications in education and training, classified as levels. Out of 10 levels, Certificate IV is the fourth, and represents a general rise in education standards from the previous three levels. There are courses of different areas in this level, and building and construction is one of them that features prominently.


The course itself comprises of 16 units, with 13 of them being core and the other 3 being elective. The topics covered include but are not limited to:


  • Applying building codes and standards to construction processes
  • Managing occupational health and safety (OH&S)
  • Conducting on-site supervision of projects
  • Reading and interpreting plans and specifications
  • Arranging for building applications and approvals


What this course CPC40110 aims to do is enable you with skills in planning projects, applying codes and regulations, and managing resources effectively. It also seeks to enhance your knowledge in building and construction to an advanced level, which drastically increases chances of becoming a registered builder. 


A more advanced course is the Diploma of Building and Construction. The Diploma of Building and Construction includes 18 units, with 13 of them being core and the other 5 being elective. Various areas are covered such as:


  • Applying principles of OHS risk management
  • Controlling project quality and risk
  • Applying building codes and standards to construction processes
  • Applying site surveys and set out procedures
  • Managing environmental and energy conservation practices and processes


As this is an advanced course, it is generally aimed at tradespeople and other employed people in the construction industry who are looking to advance their skills in management and development of residential/low-rise construction.


This course has many benefits. Above all, it helps to increase your job prospects in the construction industry, giving you an advantage over others at lower educational levels. It also will aid you in gaining knowledge to be able to successfully make a Domestic Builder Unlimited (DB-U) application. 


The key reason why this section is challenging is because of the time and money needed to get past this stage. The Certificate IV course lasts roughly 34 weeks, and the Diploma course lasts 50. Considerable resources will need to be used and procured over this period. Understanding, however, that this is part of the process to successfully becoming a builder is key to overcoming the obstacles that you will inevitably encounter. 



Having sufficient experience


Whilst it is important to be knowledgeable to become a builder, you must also have completed enough projects to be able to be considered by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). The VBA regulates all building activity in Victoria, therefore it is a must to meet their requirements for projects. 


Typically, three (3) years should be enough to offer one adequate in at least three (3) homes, at all stages of the construction and this experience must be attested to by the resident registered builder supervising the project. However, the relevant registering authority, the Victorian Building Authority (VBA) offers a time scale of seven (7) years, that is projects that the applicant has been part of over that period.


It is also not sufficient to state that you have had that relevant experience. The VBA also requires the following to confirm that experience. 


  • For each of the project, the VBA requires the address of the building project
  • Building permit documents in A4 size
  • Maximum of 10 photos at different stages in the construction projects
  • One (1) set of elevation in size A3 
  • One (1) section through building in A3 
  • One (1) site plan including hindrances faced and Setbacks 
  • One (1) Floor Plan in size a3 and I engineers drawings in A3



Applying for the correct license 

As mentioned earlier, the VBA are the central authority for all building activity in Australia. When you are registered with the VBA, you are allowed to undertake several different types of construction projects. These include but are not limited to:


  • Undertaking domestic building work that has costs surpassing $10,000.
  • Re-blocking, re-stumping, demolishing, removing a home, or essentially any building task which requires a permit, regardless of project costs.
  • Providing more than one type of building work that surpasses $10,000.


Although you may have reached this stage on the path to becoming a registered builder, there are still some caveats that need to be understood. Within the class of builder, there are more distinct types. Some of these include:


  • Domestic Builder (Limited)
  • Domestic Builder (Unlimited)
  • Commercial Builder (Limited to low-rise work)
  • Commercial Builder (Limited to medium-rise work)


These categories differ in terms of their limitations, which means there are certain types of construction work that you will and won’t be able to do. For example, someone with a Commercial Builder (Limited to low-rise work) license would not be able to undertake work of a domestic nature. This could only be done by someone with a Domestic Builder license. 


Therefore, you must be aware of how you have reached this point, as applying for the wrong type of license can be detrimental. This is where the challenge lies: it is important for you to know exactly what type of builder you want to be at the start, to avoid any complications in the future. 


Becoming a registered builder is no easy feat, however by understanding the difficulties on the journey and learning to mitigate or even eliminate them will go a long way to ensuring you are capable of becoming a builder. 


Parker Brent is an accredited provider of courses in building and construction. Enquire for more details.