Glossary | Queensland Building and Construction Commission

QBCC licence and other fees are set by regulation and increase according to the Government Indexation Rate. For 2024-2025, the Government Indexation Rate is zero percent. Therefore there was no fee increase on 1 July 2024. 
















A report completed by an auditor and based on a review of a trust account, certifying the trustee has complied with their trust account requirements.

A financial institution approved by the QBCC for providing project trust account and retention trust account products for trustees.


A person or entity with a beneficial interest in the property held in a trust. For a project trust, beneficiaries include the trustee and relevant subcontractors. For a retention trust, beneficiaries are contracted parties from which eligible cash retention amounts are withheld.

Building work is a term used to infer work that requires a QBCC licence and includes work:

  • valued over $3,300
  • valued over $1,100 where it involves hydraulic services design
  • of any value where it involves:
    • drainage
    • plumbing and drainage
    • gas fitting
    • termite management—chemical
    • fire protection
    • completed residential building inspection
    • building design—low rise, medium rise and open
    • site classification
    • mechanical services.

A day that is not a Saturday or a Sunday, a public holiday, special holiday or bank holiday at the place where work is carried out, or any day between 22-24 December, 27-31 December or 2-10 January.


Carrying out building work includes:

  • personally carrying out the work
  • directly or indirectly causing the building work to be carried out
  • providing administration, advisory, management or supervisory services for building work, including:
    • entering into a contract or submitting a tender for building work
    • offering (quoting and tendering) to carry out building work
    • taking payment or arranging payment of subcontractors
    • arranging labour or arranging and conducting on-site meetings and inspections
    • preparing plans and specifications
    • coordinating the scheduling of work for building contractors even as an agent for another person
    • obtaining engineering or soil reports, or arranging for certificates from Local government to be issued etc
    • supervising building work
    • providing advice or a report for a building
    • contracting for work as a subcontractor to a builder.

A certified copy is a copy of a document that has been verified as being a true copy of the original document by one of the following:

  • Justice of the Peace
  • Commissioner for Declarations
  • Lawyer
  • Conveyancer
  • Notary Public.

Alternatively, you can bring your original documents with you when you lodge a form at a QBCC service centre. Our staff can view, copy and sign them for you.

What is a company?

In the eyes of the law, a company is an independent legal entity with many attributes of the natural (human) person.

The Corporations Law provides that it has the separate legal capacity of a natural person, and certain other powers, such as

  • the power to issue and allot shares
  • to enter into contracts
  • to buy and sell property
  • to borrow funds 
  • to sue and be sued by others.

Companies are registered with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) and allocated a unique Australian Company Number (ACN).

Companies are obliged to keep separate financial records and bank accounts and may also act as trustees of trust funds

Companies under the QBCC Act 

Where a company is entering into contracts to carry out building work, it is required to hold a licence.

While there are some exemptions under the QBCC Act, the majority of cases where the value of the building work exceeds $3,300 (including labour and materials), the company will require its own licence under the QBCC Act.

It is not sufficient to employ an individual or have a director who is licensed with QBCC and use their licence number on contracts.

As the company is a separate legal entity, it must have its own licence to carry out building work.

A continuing licence class is a class of licence that is no longer available to new applicants.

If held by an existing licensee, they can continue to undertake the allowed scope of work as long as they continue to meet the relevant eligibility requirements and pay the annual renewal fee.

If they let the renewal fee lapse, they will not be able to reapply for the continuing class. They will need to meet the eligibility requirements for a current available licence.

The amount (excluding GST) the contracted party is entitled to be paid (or a reasonable estimate) for the completion of work under the contract.

The party that has been engaged under a contract to carry out work. This is the head contractor for the head contract and the subcontractor for the subcontract.

The party that has engaged a builder as head contractor to carry out work under a contract. This is generally the Principal or a developer.



A detached dwelling is a single detached dwelling.

direct debit is a method of payment whereby QBCC is authorised to debit a customer's bank account directly.

A direction is a formal notice given by the QBCC to the licensed contractor requiring them to rectify or complete the work. Directions are noted on the public licensee register.

This is the meaning of domestic building work as defined in Schedule 1B of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.

  1. Each of the following is domestic building work—
    • (a) the erection or construction of a detached dwelling;
    • (b) the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a home;
    • (c) removal or resiting work for a detached dwelling;
    • (d) the installation of a kit home at a building site.
  2. However—
    • (a) removal work for a detached dwelling is domestic building work only if the dwelling is intended to be resited at another place and used, at the place, as a residence; and
    • (b) resiting work for a detached dwelling is domestic building work only if the dwelling is intended to be used at the place at which it is being resited as a residence.
  3. Domestic building work includes—
    • (a) work (associated work) associated with the erection, construction, removal or resiting of a detached dwelling; and
    • (b) work (associated work) associated with the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a home.
  4. Without limiting subsection (3), associated work includes—
    • (a) landscaping; and
    • (b) paving; and
    • (c) the erection or construction of a building or fixture associated with the detached dwelling or home. Examples of buildings and fixtures—retaining structures, driveways, fencing, garages, carports, workshops, swimming pools and spas
  5. For the erection or construction of a detached dwelling, domestic building work includes the provision of services or facilities to the dwelling or the property on which the dwelling is, or is to be, situated.
  6. For the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a home, domestic building work includes the provision of services or facilities to the home or the property on which the home is situated. Examples of services and facilities for subsections (5) and (6)— lighting, heating, ventilation, air conditioning, water supply, sewerage and drainage
  7. Also, domestic building work includes—
    • (a) site work relating to work mentioned in subsection (1), (3), (5) or (6); and
    • (b) work declared under a regulation to be domestic building work if there are reasonable grounds for considering the work to be domestic building work.
  8. However, domestic building work does not include excluded building work.
  9. In this section—
    1. (a) a reference to a detached dwelling includes a reference to any part of a detached dwelling; and
    2. (b) a reference to a home includes a reference to any part of a home; and
    3. (c) a reference to site work includes a reference to work required to be carried out to gain access, or to remove impediments to access, to a site.
  10. In this section—
    kit home means a set of building components offered for sale on the basis that the components are sufficient for the construction of 1 of the following if constructed in compliance with a plan or instruction provided by the seller—
    • (a) a detached dwelling;
    • (b) a garage;
    • (c) a carport;
    • (d) another structure prescribed by regulation. 
    removal work, for a detached dwelling, means work relating to the dwelling carried out at the place at which the dwelling is located for relocating the dwelling to another place.
    resiting work, for a detached dwelling, means work relating to the dwelling carried out at a place for resiting the dwelling at the place following its removal from another place.

duplex is a residential building divided by a party wall into two units, with a separate entrance for each.


Retention amounts withheld by the contracting party in the form of cash. These amounts must be withheld within a retention trust account.

A project trust contract OR a retention trust contract (depending on the context) that requires the establishment of a trust account.

Establishment is a term used when a project or retention trust comes into effect. There are specific steps that must be undertaken for establishment to occur.


A contract for work that is not also a subcontract of another contract.

The contracted party for the head contract – can also be the contracting party for a subcontract if they subcontract all or part of the work to be carried out under the head contract.

A Hospital and Health Service established under the Hospital and Health Boards Act 2011, section 17. This is a consideration for eligibility for a project trust account.


Incidental work is minor work you need to do to finish your job, where that work is covered under a licence class other than the one you hold. The total value of incidental work cannot be any more than $3,300 and may be included in your contract. 

The definition in the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Regulation 2018 is outlined below.

A licensee under the relevant class may carry out, or engage another person to carry out, building work with a total value of $3,300 or less:

  • that is within the scope of work under a licence class other than the relevant class, and
  • that is incidental to building work being carried out under the relevant class, and
  • that is—
    • for work for which an occupational licence, fire protection licence or mechanical services licence is required—carried out by a licensee who holds a licence to carry out the work; or
    • otherwise—carried out by the licensee or a licensee who holds a licence to carry out the work.
The value of building work includes all labour and material costs, regardless of who supplies the materials.

An individual, other than a director or secretary, who is in a position to control or substantially influence the company’s conduct (section 4AA QBCC Act).

The insurable value of work (sometimes called the market value) is the reasonable cost of having the work carried out by a licensed contractor on the basis that all materials are to be supplied by the contractor, whether or not the work is carried out on this basis, e.g. if you enter a contract with a licensed contractor to renovate your kitchen, but you buy the cabinets for the contractor to install, the insurable value of the work must still include the cabinet value.

The value of work includes the market cost of:

  • materials (i.e. the value of materials bought new, even if you are getting them for free or second-hand), including GST
  • labour (provided by a certified contractor, even if you are getting the work at a discount or for free), including GST
  • QLeave levy for projects costing $150,000 or more.

The value of work excludes the cost of:

  • the home warranty insurance premium.

Find out more, including how to calculate the value of the work, at Calculating the premium.


Book or computer software containing the accounts of the trust account administrator. A general ledger is a collection of all the asset, liability, owner’s equity, revenue and expense accounts.

A licensed builder is prescribed under the QBCC Regulation to mean the holder of a builder or builder restricted class of licence. 


Work that is required on an ongoing basis to help to prevent the deterioration or failure of a building. It does not include any refurbishments or replacements to enhance or extend the life of a building or testing, taking samples or restoring a sample site.

A merits review means that Internal Review Unit considers the merits of the review application in order to make a whole new decision replacing the original decision under review as per section 86C(1) of the QBCC Act.

multiple dwelling is a building with more than 2 residential units.


The insurable value of the work is divided by the number of dwellings or units in a multi-dwelling project (e.g. for duplexes you divide the total insurable value by 2 to get a notional price per duplex).


The licensed contractor has completed all work according to the contract, plans and specifications. If there are any defects or omissions, they should only be minor. The work must be reasonably suitable for habitation and comply with all relevant statutory requirements, including the Building Code of Australia.

A trust, primarily for the benefit of subcontractors, over

  1. amounts paid for a project trust contract by the contracting party to the contracted party
  2. amounts paid by the contracted party for the project trust contract to subcontractors
  3. required deposits into the project trust account.

An account which is held at an approved financial institution and through which a project trust is operated. All payment amounts under a project trust contract and its subcontract/s must be deposited into this account. Withdrawals from this account can only be used to pay beneficiaries amounts they are entitled to.

A contract for which a project trust is required.

Particular types of work that are taken into consideration when assessing whether a contract requires a project trust.

Particular types of work that, if included in a subcontract to the project trust contract, make the subcontractor a beneficiary of the project trust. The definition includes everything that is considered to be ‘project trust work’ but with additional types of work and some specific exclusions.

A public sector entity includes:

  • a department
  • an agency, authority, commission, corporation, instrumentality, office or other entity established under an Act for a public or State purpose
  • a government-owned corporation
  • a rail government entity
  • a distributer/retailer is not a public sector entity.


QLeave is the authority that administers the portable long service leave scheme for Queensland's building and construction industry. The Portable Long Service Leave Scheme is funded by a levy imposed on the total cost, whether direct or indirect, of building and construction work in Queensland costing $150,000 or more (excluding GST).


Anyone who needs to apply for a QBCC licence but doesn’t hold formal technical qualifications (e.g. apprenticeship papers or course completion papers) can use recognition of prior learning (RPL).

If you already have a qualification, but it’s not the exact qualification you need for the licence class you want, you can apply for an equivalency assessment.

You can do this through registered training organisations (RTOs). They assess your skills, knowledge and experience, and compare your qualification with the one you need for your licence class.

They’ll also advise about any other requirements you may need.

Once you meet the requirements, you'll be given an equivalent qualification which you can then use to apply for a licence.

NOTE: RTOs can't RPL every kind of building work. 

A procedure that involves checking the accuracy of transactions recorded for a trust against the trust account bank statement. Monthly reconciliations are required for trust accounts.

A consolidated record of deposits into a trust account and withdrawals from the trust account. This record forms part of the trustee’s record keeping obligations.

An auditor registered under the Corporations Act 2001 (search ASIC’s professional registers).Trustees are required to engage a registered company auditor to conduct a review of the trust account.

A person is a related entity for another person if they have a particular family, corporate,trustee or common land holding trust relationship with the other person.


Particular types of services that, if included in a subcontract to the project trust contract, make the subcontractor a beneficiary of the project trust. The types of services include

  • architectural, design
  • surveying or quantity surveying services
  • building, engineering, interior or exterior design
  • landscaping advisory services
  • soil testing services.

A trust over eligible cash retention amounts which protect deposits made on behalf of the party/parties that will be entitled to the retention amounts.

An account through which a retention trust is operated and held at an approved financial institution. It is the account into which all withheld cash retention amounts under an eligible contract are deposited by the contracting party and held until they are required to be released to the party/parties entitled to the amounts.

A withholding contract for which a retention trust is required.

The prescribed period of time for trust account reviews. For a retention trust, the review period is annually (from when the account was opened) and when the account is closed. There is currently no review period prescribed for a project trust. The QBCC may also specify a review period when directing a trust account review.


An investigator appointed by the QBCC to investigate a trustee’s compliance with their legislative requirements in relation to trust accounts.

Speculative residential construction work is when a licenced contractor carries out residential construction work on land they own.

An agency, authority, commission, corporation, instrumentality, office or other entity particular established under an Act or by authority of the state for a public or State purpose. A State authority can also be a corporation owned or controlled by the State or local government or a Hospital and Health Service.

Storey means a space within a building which is situated between one floor level and the next floor level, or if there is no floor above, the ceiling or roof above, but is not a mezzanine or space that contains only—

  • a lift, shaft, stairway or meter room; or
  • a bathroom, shower room, laundry, water closet or other sanitary compartment; or
  • accommodation intended for not more than 3 vehicles; or
  • any combination of a thing mentioned in any of the above.

A contract that contributes to the completion of work under the head contract.

A person who is required to carry out the work under a subcontract.


Tier 1 defective work means grossly defective work that falls below the standard reasonably expected of a licensed contractor for the type of building work and either:

  • adversely affects the structural performance of a building to the extent that a person could not reasonably be expected to use the building for the purpose for which it was, or is being, erected or constructed (i.e. requires substantial reconstruction or demolition), or
  • is likely to cause the death of or grievous bodily harm to a person (e.g. fire protection not up to safety standard).

Bans for tier 1 defective work

  • 1st offence – 3-year ban 
  • 2nd offence – within 10 years of the first ban, banned for life.

A banned individual is considered not fit and proper to hold a licence.

A relationship that arises when a person or other entity (the trustee) holds property on behalf of and for the benefit of a party/parties with a beneficial interest in the property (that is, the beneficiaries).

A record that outlines the balances of amounts held in trust for each beneficiary at the end of each month. This record is used as part of the monthly reconciliation process.

register available on the QBCC website that displays trust accounts across the state.

A review of a trust account carried out by a registered company auditor who is independent of the trustee and not excluded from reviewing trust accounts. The auditor prepares and submits an account review report once the review is completed.

Records that must be kept for at least seven years by a trustee in relation to a trust. Trust records must include an individual trust account ledger, a record of deposits and withdrawals and other documents relating to the trust account and trust project.

The person or entity responsible for the trust. The trustee for a project trust is the contracted party for the project trust contract. The trustee for a retention trust is the contracting party for the retention trust contract.


If the contractor is not dead, or their licence is not cancelled and they are insolvent, a consumer must validly terminate their building contract with their contractor to be eligible for a non-completion claim.

To validly terminate the contract the contractor must be in substantial breach of the contract. In general terms, a consumer may lawfully terminate a building contract if there is a clause in the contract that gives a right to terminate in the circumstances, or there is a right to terminate in the circumstances that is not stated in the contract but is allowed under common law or legislation.

The law governing contract termination can be quite complex and there are risks involved in terminating a contract. It is recommended that a solicitor be engaged to assist consumers and provide legal advice about termination.

The value of building work is the reasonable cost to a consumer of having the work carried out by a licensed contractor on the basis that materials, labour and GST are included, regardless of who supplies the materials. This can sometimes be referred to as the 'market value'.

The variation of a building contract is an addition to, or an omission from, the building work; the subject of the contract may or may not increase or decrease the contract price or insurable value of the work.


A general term used in relation to work performed under a contract. Includes labour, the supply of materials, the manufacture or fabrication of a specific component and the supply of any non-administrative labour for work under a contract.

Excludes the delivery of goods, plant or machinery hire (that is not connected to labour under a contract), labour performed under a service contract or labour relating to testing materials or taking measurements.

'Work starts' is when work is taken to have started is defined in the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Regulation 2018. 

If the contracted work includes the erection or construction of a footing system or slab or the provision of sewerage or drainage, work is considered to have started when work for the footing system or slab, or the provision of sewerage or drainage physically starts on-site.

If the contracted work does not include the erection or construction of a footing system or slab, nor the provision of sewerage or drainage, work is taken to have started when building work physically starts on-site.

This does not include earthmoving, excavation, site work.

Last reviewed: 30 Aug 2021 Last published: 30 Aug 2021
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