There are many contractors who earn their livelihood building small sheds, pergolas, patios etc and perform quite well. One area that you should carefully note is that under the Builders’ Registration Act any project valued at over $20k requires the services of a registered builder. Handypersons who advertise in community newspapers are therefore restricted in the scale of projects that they can undertake.
Builders of projects valued at over $20k (at time of writing) are also required to take out housing indemnity insurance, which effectively cuts out local contractors performing this type of work.
Another protection for consumers is that the Home Building Contracts Act covers any project valued over $7,500. This requires contractors to charge a maximum deposit of 6.5 per cent of the contract value. For example a project valued at $15k could only attract a $975 deposit. This provision is designed to protect consumers against contractors who ask for large deposits of up to 50 per cent of the contract value before work commences.
Contractors can only request progress payments for work that is actually performed, not in advance.
One common practice that contractors use in an attempt to overcome the requirements of the Builders Registration Act is to “split contract”. For example a project valued at say $25k is split into 2 parts, say $15k and $10k to allow an unregistered contractor to perform the job. This practice is illegal.
If you are dealing with a local contractor to perform building work, you may require a building permit for your local authority. You should check with the local authority’s building department to ensure that you comply with council requirements. Just because you do not need a registered builder to construct the project does not absolve you from obtaining a local building permit.