Becoming a Self-Employed Builder in Australia – A Guide

Becoming a Self-Employed Builder in Australia – A Guide

If you have talent in your hands when it comes to building and you enjoy the challenge of new projects, why not freelance your services? More and more tradies are leaving their employment and working as sub-contractors and at the end of the day they make more money than direct employment, plus the prospects are unlimited when you work for yourself.

Create a business plan 

Every business idea that passes the intense scrutiny to be in the ‘doable’ category needs to have a detailed business plan. Basically, you are marketing your ability to build quality homes to order or carry out home improvements, extensions and add-ons, therefore, you need to have a marketing plan that shows how you will reach your local community. Calculate your startup costs and compile a list of assets/equipment/tools that you will need.

Making it official

You will need to apply for a builder’s licence from the state, wherever you are based in Australia and this is quite straightforward; in NSW, you will need the following:

  • Certificate IV in building & construction
  • Minimum of 2 years building experience
  • Current contractor licence and/or Diploma of building and construction

VET qualifications

To get a builder’s licence in New South Wales, you need one or more of the following:

  • CPC 40320 Certificate IV in Building Project Support
  • CPC 40120 Certificate IV in Building and Construction
  • BCG 40106, CPC 40108, CPC 40110 Certificate IV in Building and Construction
  • BCG 40206, CPC 40208 Certificate IV in Building and Construction
  • BCG 40306, CPC 40308 Certificate IV in Building and Construction
  • BCG 40506, CPC 40508 Certificate IV in Building and Construction

To learn more about builder’s licence requirements, visit your state government website and follow the instructions.

Bookkeeping & accountancy

Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can just keep all receipts and deal with the bookkeeping at a later date, as this invariably leads to a drawer full of paperwork and a bookkeeper’s nightmare. If you are computer savvy, create spreadsheets and enter the data at the end of each day; failing that, talk to a local bookkeeper and let them have access to your secure network. 


You will need some general liability insurance to cover any 3rd party claims that might arise, while vehicle, tools and equipment insurance is another policy you should have. If in doubt, consult with a business lawyer who can help you minimise risk to your operation. As a registered builder, you can take on small projects like building decking.


Wherever you are in Australia, there will be lots of competition, so you do need a marketing plan and any tradesman should be focused on gaining a good reputation in the local community. Digital marketing is a great way to get your message out there and talking to a local agency might be a wise move.

Once you have registered your business and obtained your builder’s licence, there’s nothing to stop you looking for clients and hopefully, your venture will reap rewards.

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