What is the Consumer Building Guide in NSW?

The Consumer Building Guide is a vital document issued by NSW Fair Trading, designed to protect homeowners engaging in residential building work in New South Wales. It is a comprehensive resource that outlines the rights and responsibilities of both homeowners and builders, ensuring a fair and transparent construction process.

One of the primary purposes of the Consumer Building Guide is to provide homeowners with essential information before signing a contract for residential building work valued at over $5,000. It aims to promote fair practices, protect consumers from unscrupulous builders, and enhance the overall quality and safety of building projects.

The Consumer Building Guide acts as a crucial tool for homeowners to assess their builder’s compliance with industry standards, ensuring that their rights are upheld throughout the construction journey. By following the guidelines and recommendations outlined in the guide, homeowners can make informed decisions, protect their investment, and achieve successful outcomes for their building projects in NSW.

Consumer Building Guide in Various NSW Residential Building Contracts

In New South Wales (NSW), several organisations, including the Housing Industry Association (HIA), Master Builders Association (MBA), and Australian Building Industry Contracts (ABIC), along with NSW Fair Trading, offer contract templates for residential building projects. Regardless of whether you choose the contract template provided by HIA, MBA, ABIC, or Fair Trading in NSW, these templates come with the same essential attachment: the Consumer Building Guide. Although the guide might vary slightly, their core content remains largely identical.

Key Components of the Consumer Building Guide

The Consumer Building Guide in NSW encompasses various key components that homeowners should be aware of. By understanding these components, you can ensure a smooth and successful construction journey. Let’s explore some of the essential elements of the Consumer Building Guide:


Licensing is a fundamental aspect covered in the Consumer Building Guide. It stipulates that tradespeople and builders undertaking residential building work valued at more than $5,000 must be licensed by NSW Fair Trading. This requirement aims to ensure that builders and tradespeople are qualified, competent, and regulated, providing a level of protection to consumers. 

Home Building Compensation Scheme

The Consumer Building Guide emphasises the importance of the Home Building Compensation (HBC) Scheme. For building work valued at over $20,000, builders or tradespeople must provide evidence of HBC cover before commencing work or receiving any payment (including deposit). The HBC Scheme provides financial protection to homeowners in the event that the builder cannot complete the work or rectify defects due to insolvency, death, disappearance, or licence suspension.


The Consumer Building Guide emphasises the significance of obtaining necessary approvals for building work. Homeowners are encouraged to check with their local council or an accredited private certifier to determine the specific approvals required for their project. Engaging a building certifier is the responsibility of the homeowner. This ensures that the building project complies with local regulations and standards, mitigating potential legal issues and ensuring the safety of the construction.

Contracts and Payments

The Consumer Building Guide highlights the importance of having written contracts for building work. It outlines two main contract types: fixed price (lump sum) contracts and cost-plus contracts. Additionally, it specifies that residential building work valued under $20,000 should be carried out under a “small jobs” contract. Meanwhile, residential building work valued more than $20,000 should have a full home building contract, including all other requirements and comprehensive information. The contract is also required to include a checklist prescribed by NSW Fair Trading.

The Consumer Building Guide also discusses the requirement of having a progress payment schedule, and it also explains the concept of variation. Moreover, It informs the homeowner that the maximum deposit for building work in NSW is 10%.

These guides provide clarity and protection to both homeowners and builders by clearly defining the scope of work, cost, and other crucial details.

Statutory Warranties

One important aspect covered by the Consumer Building Guide in NSW is statutory warranties. These warranties provide legal protection for consumers and outline the responsibilities of builders and contractors in ensuring the quality and durability of their work. In NSW, the statutory warranties include guaranteeing that the work is fit-for-purpose, performed diligently, and delivered in a reasonable timeframe, in line with the contract. These warranties are in place for a specific period, usually 6 years for major defects and 2 years for all other defects. Understanding these statutory warranties is crucial for homeowners to protect their rights.

Resolving Disputes

The Consumer Building Guide includes guidelines for resolving disputes that may arise during the building process. In the event of a dispute, homeowners are encouraged to notify the builder or tradesperson and engage in open communication to discuss concerns promptly. The guide outlines other processes including contacting NSW Fair Trading, and lodging a claim with the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT). This helps to protect homeowners’ rights and ensure fair outcomes.

Understanding these key components of the Consumer Building Guide equips homeowners with the knowledge necessary to engage confidently with builders, navigate contractual obligations, and address potential challenges throughout the construction process. 

What are the consequences if I have not received a copy of the Consumer Building Guide?

If your builder hasn’t provided you with a copy of the Consumer Building Guide, you might have rights under the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW) that you are not aware of. 

This Consumer Building Guide is a vital resource that outlines your rights and responsibilities, and not having access to it could leave you in the dark about important aspects of your project. If you find yourself in this situation, give us a call to find out what your options are. If you need a copy of the Consumer Building Guide, you can download it here:

Ensuring Your Contract is Compliant with the Law

Before you sign any contract, it’s crucial to understand every detail. Each contract is unique, with its own set of terms and conditions that could significantly impact your building project. 

We can help you review your contract to ensure that it meets all the requirements of the Home Building Act 1989 (NSW). We also offer other pre-contract services such as Contract Drafting and Drafting Special Conditions. These services are designed to help you understand the contract you’re about to sign, ensuring it aligns with your intentions, protects your interests, and aligns with the legal standards.

Legal Disputes and Your Rights

In the event of a dispute, homeowners are encouraged to notify the builder or tradesperson and engage in open communication to discuss concerns promptly. But what if that’s not enough? We can help. We advise and represent clients on legal disputes, ensuring your rights are upheld and you get the best possible outcome. By combining our knowledge of the law with our expertise in contract review and dispute resolution, we can help you navigate the complexities of your building project with confidence.

Consumer building guide


As a homeowner, it is crucial to seek professional advice and guidance to ensure you fully comprehend the legal and contractual aspects of your building project. As an experienced solicitor and construction lawyer with a specialisation in construction law, you can rely on my expertise to provide you with tailored advice and representation. Don’t hesitate to reach out for a consultation to discuss your specific needs and receive comprehensive legal guidance. Together, we can ensure that your building project is a success and that your rights and obligations are protected throughout the process.