Being a handyman is a profession that is in demand across every state in Australia. And due to the nature of the work largely focusing on odd jobs and general maintenance, handymen do not need a licence to operate in Australia – except for in New South Wales (NSW). So before you start your handyman business in NSW, read this guide to understand the handyman business requirements in the state and whether you need a handyman certificate or license.
What is the licence requirement for a handyman business in NSW?
In NSW, handyman contractors will need to obtain a licence for two reasons:
Firstly, if their residential building work is valued at $5000 or more. This includes the cost of GST, labour and materials. Handymen who take on work such as general building jobs and renovations, structural landscaping, and swimming pool construction worth over this fixed amount will require a general Contractor License.
And secondly if the work consists of jobs involving air conditioning, refrigeration, electrical, wiring, plumbing, gas fitting and the reconnection and disconnection of fixed electrical equipment work. The jobs will require the handyman to obtain a specialised licence.
You will need to apply for a license in person at a Service NSW office.
What will you need?
While it may be different for certain specialised licences, the checklist for what handymen need to obtain a licence in NSW is as follows:
- Passport-sized photograph
- Proof of your identity (e.g. electricity bill, residential tenancy agreement or bank passbook)
- All the documentation that proves you meet the required qualifications (e.g. certifications on special training)
- Certification of eligibility to acquire insurance and referee’s statement (only if applicable)
The cost of the licence will largely depend on what you want to specialise in. For example, a tradesperson licence will cost you $120 a year, while a more specialised builder contractor licence will cost upwards of $700.
You may also need to annually update your licence depending on your speciality.
For a full list of fees, visit the Department of Fair Trading NSW website.
Another requirement handymen may need to operate in Australia is handyman insurance. And while it may not be mandatory, some clients may not want to engage with a handyman that doesn’t carry some forms of insurance.
This is particularly prevalent with Public Liability insurance*, which could help you accidentally cause an injury to a customer or damage their property.
It is designed to cover legal fees and compensation costs if a third party claims against you for injury or damage because of your alleged negligent business activities.
Getting a Business Insurance package* is another important form of cover for handymen. This is because it is designed to cover your business contents, tools, and commercial premises when an insured event occurs, such as fire, storm, or even accidental damage.
It can also provide glass cover and cover you for loss of revenue due to business interruption in specified circumstances, not to mention tax audit, employment practices and statutory liability risks.
Another important tip to consider is that licenced builders and tradespeople in NSW will also need home building compensation (HBC) for each home building project over $20,000. This is a contractual standard in the state that you will need to consider before starting a building project.
The bottom line
Whether it’s sorting out your handyman insurance or your licensing requirements, becoming a handyman in NSW requires you to keep on top of things. Ensuring your licence is kept up to date is essential to avoid hefty fines and damage to your reputation.
Likewise, making sure you have enough business insurance cover to protect you from the risks you may face day-to-day is essential to staying in the handyman game. This is especially important if you are a sole trader as you are personally responsible, both legally and financially, for your business activities.
But while the standards are strict, the pay-off is extremely rewarding. A career as a handyman can allow you to earn decent money and give you great freedom.
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