This fact sheet provides an overview of the legal, operational and business issues relevant to the construction industry, which includes businesses in residential and non-residential construction. It includes services such as building structure, installation, heavy and civil engineering, land development and site preparation. You may also be interested in our Professional services industry fact sheet for information relevant to architects.
As well as the information in this factsheet, you should see our Business topics for additional regulations and obligations relevant to your business, in particular our Independent contractors topic. For further advice and assistance, contact your accountant, solicitor or business advisor.
See our topics on this page for detailed information on the construction industry:
- Key legislation & initiatives
- Licences & permits
- Finance & tax
- Levies & charges
- Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)
- Intellectual Property (IP)
- Industry training
- Key government organisations & websites
- Key advisors
- Industry groups
- Useful topics.
Industry research is an important part of planning for your business. It may uncover economic and industry trends, establish or improve your business and help you keep pace with your industry.
Key government sources for industry specific statistics on the construction industry include:
- Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)
The Construction section of the ABS website provides information such as the rate of building approvals, the amount of building work done and the type of work done. All these figures are available on of the topics at a glance.
- Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency (AWPA)
The Australian Workforce and Productivity Agency’s Construction Industry snapshot contains statistics and information on the recent growth and current trends of the industry.
Key legislation & initiatives
Legislation often plays a large part in how you run your business, so it’s important to be aware of the laws that apply to your industry. Key legislation that may affect businesses in the construction industry includes:
- Competition and Consumer Act 2010
- Australian Consumer Law (ACL)
- National Construction Code (includes Building and Plumbing codes)
The National Construction Code Series for 2015 is now available as a free download.
- Disability (Access to Premises-Buildings) Standards 2010
- National Prequalification System for Civil (Road and Bridge) Construction Contracts
- Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999
- Native title legislation
- State Building Acts.
You can have your say on government policy and regulation affecting the future of your industry by registering on the Business consultation website.
Licences & permits
Licences and permits specific to the construction industry are often managed by state or territory governments and mainly relate to:
- building licences
- plumbing licences
- gas fitting licences
- electrical licences
- development applications
- zoning approvals
- heavy vehicle licences
- obtaining a white card
- water usage or constructing a bore or well
- connection or work on sewerage/drain
- carrying out high risk work
- protecting trees and wildlife
- fire management and safety
- use of blasting explosives
- removal of asbestos
- use of public land
- work on heritage properties
- building energy efficiency
- disposal of waste
- handling, storage and use of chemicals or dangerous substances.
Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find out what licences and permits you need for your industry.
If you employ staff, you need to comply with Australia’s national workplace laws and the specific requirements in your industry:
- Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman website for awards specific to your industry.
- Find answers to your workplace enquiries or issues by contacting Fair Work Building and Construction.
- See our Employing people topic for further information on employment rights and obligations.
The building and construction industry often use contractors to perform specialist skills such as plasterers, concreters, draftspersons, bricklayers, electricians and plumbers. For tax, workers compensation and superannuation purposes it’s important to be clear about whether these specialists are hired as an employee or a contractor. Use our independent contractors decision tool to help you determine the employment status of your workers.
Apprentices and trainees
With flexible hours and on the job training, the construction industry lends itself easily to taking on apprentices and trainees. If you take on an apprentice or trainee, you can access a range of government support and financial help. See the Australian Apprenticeships Centre website to find out more.
Finance & tax
There are a number of finance and tax measures specific to construction businesses, including:
- Personal services income (PSI)
If you’re a consultant or contractor, the income you receive for your skills, knowledge, expertise or efforts may be classified as PSI. The PSI rules may affect what amounts you include in your assessable income, and what deductions you can claim.
- Taxable payments reporting
Businesses in the building and construction industry need to report to the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) the total payments they make to each contractor for building and construction services each year.
To find more finance and tax guidance, take a look at:
- Record keeping in the plastering industry , for advice from the ATO about what records primary producers need to keep
- the Building and construction page on the ATO website for specific tax details for your industry
- our Taxation topic, for general taxation information
- our Business finances topic, for more detailed information on how to manage your finances.
Levies & charges
Levies and charges are largely used to fund activities that benefit the construction industry and its workers, such as improved skills, increased safety and better leave entitlements.
The main levies that apply to the building and construction industry are payable at the state or local government level and vary between states. Some examples of levies in Australia include long service leave levy, industry training levy and industry waste or landfill levies.
Contact your state government department or local council for further information on levies applicable in your state. Search our Directory of government and business associations for council or state government contact details.
There are very few grants available for the construction industry, unless you are:
- employing and training an apprentice or trainee
- building in a region encouraging growth
- building structures to support a community activity or event.
Search our Grant finder to find more grants and assistance programs for the construction industry.
Workplace Health & Safety (WHS)
As well as the general occupational health and safety regulations, there are also some state-specific WHS requirementsrelevant to the construction industry, including:
- induction cards (white card)
- asbestos training (ACT)
- approved clothing
- managing noise
- preventing falls
- electrical safety
- excavation work
- demolition work
- high risk building work
- sun safety and heat stress.
Builders that wish to enter into a contract with the Australian Government need to also be accredited under the Australian Government Building and Construction OHS Accreditation Scheme
Need help understanding your WHS obligations? Try these government resources:
- for information specific to the Construction industry as well as comprehensive information on WHS regulations, Visit the Safe Work Australia website.
- For details on your general health and safety obligations, visit our Workplace Health and Safety topic.
- For state specific occupational health and safety information, see your state or territory workplace health and safety agency.
As well as compulsory insurance such as workers compensation, there are also a number of specific insurance options required of businesses in the construction industry.
In most states, builders must be licenced and must obtain specific insurance cover before they can obtain a licence. Insurance requirements often vary depending on your business type and state licensing requirements, but can include:
- domestic building insurance
- professional indemnity insurance
- public liability insurance
- structural defects/builders indemnity insurance.
Additional insurance options available to businesses in the building and construction industry include:
- vehicle and heavy machinery insurance
- tools, plant and equipment insurance for tradespeople
- insurance for loss or damage to property in the course of construction.
Visit our Insurance topic for details on general insurance options for business.
Intellectual Property (IP)
As well as trade marks, there are other IP rights that may be relevant to construction businesses:
- Design protection (e.g. for the design of machinery)
IP Australia is the federal government agency responsible for granting rights in patents, trade marks and designs. Visit the IP Australia website to find out more about your IP options.
Industry training can be an important part of your business survival. New construction methods or safety practices can often help improve your business and save lives. Need some help getting started?
- Obtain your Construction industry white card
- Complete asbestos awareness training if you work in the ACT. From the 1 July 2014, all building and construction workers who will be working with asbestos are required to complete asbestos awareness training. For a full list of occupations and your employer obligations, access Worksafe ACT’s Guidance Note on Asbestos Training .
- If you are a qualified tradesperson and you wish to move interstate, visit the Licence Recognition website to learn how to transfer your qualifications.
- See our Skills & training topic for tips on training yourself and your staff.
- Search our Event finder to find government events, seminars, training courses and workshops.
Environmental conditions can often dictate certain aspects of a construction project. Learning how to work within these conditions and also reduce your impacts on the environment can often greatly improve your success. Some of the main environmental concerns that businesses in the construction industry should be aware of include:
- House energy ratings
- soil contaminated locations
- aeas infected by a species (animal, plant, insect, or disease)
- flood prone areas
- bushfire prone areas
- tree management
- trade waste management and reduction.
Visit our Environmental management topic for detailed information and advice. Search the Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS) website to find specific licences and permits relevant to these environmental concerns.
Key government organisations & websites
The key federal government agencies and websites relevant to the construction industry include:
- Department of Industry and Science
- Australian Building Codes Board
- Office of the Federal Safety Commissioner
- Fair Work Building and Construction
- Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme (NatHERS)
The key state government agencies relevant to the construction industry include:
- NT Department of Lands Planning and the Environment
- NT Building Practitioners Board
- NT Electrical Workers and Contractors Licensing Board
- NT Plumbers & Drainers Licensing Board
- QLD Department of State Development, Infrastructure and Planning
- QLD Department of Housing and public works
- QLD Building and Construction Commission
- SA Consumer and Business Services (for licensing and of tradespersons)
- SA Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure
- Safe Work South Australia
- VIC Department of Transport, Planning and Local Infrastructure (for planning applications and building policy)
- Victorian Building Authority
- Energy Safe Victoria(electrical & gas professionals)
- WA Department of Planning
- WA Building Commission
- WA Plumbers Licensing Board
- WA Energy Safety (Includes electrical & gas fitters licensing).
Business advisors can be a valuable tool when establishing and developing your business in your industry. Search our Advisor finder tool to find one near you.
You may also wish to consult with an industry association or group for more information and advice on your industry. Search our Directory of government and business associations to find one relevant to your business.
Topics that may be particularly relevant to the construction industry include: