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A balustrade is a rail that is supported by supporting posts. Balustrades are an integral part of a staircase, deck or other structure that requires a barrier or support system to prevent injury. As such, balustrades are generally included as part of a larger installation. Because balustrades and their support systems play an important part in ensuring safety, there are strict Building Code Australia (BCA) Standards they must adhere to.

Balustrades - New South Wales

NSW Fair Trading issues Minor Trade Work licenses to tradespersons who undertake "new, repair or replacement work which cannot be readily ascribed to an individual specific trade area." This type of licence will probably suffice if you are only having a balustrade installed. If installing a balustrade is part of a staircase installation, a Carpenter's licence will be required.

If you are having a metal balustrade installed, the fabricator/installer will need to hold a Metal Fabrication licence. NSW Fair Trading specifically includes balustrades in this category.

Balustrades - Victoria

In Victoria, building and building-related trades are governed by the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). A Registered Building Practioner (RBP) is the equivalent to a licensed builder in other states. In Victoria, only registered builders can carry out building works in excess of $5000 in value, labour and materials included. An exception is when only one type of work is being carried out.

A balustrade installer may not require a builder's registration in Victoria unless they regularly do other types of installations as well. If you are having a staircase built, for instance, your builder/installer will need to be a registered builder. They may have one or more Domestic Builder - Limited (DB-L) qualifications. For example, the additional code letter "C" designates the registrant is a carpenter and is authorised by the VBA to install staircases, decking and balustrades.

Balustrades - Queensland

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) governs the building trade in this state. In Queensland a licence is required for jobs that cost $3300 or more. Two licence classes may apply to staircase and balustrade builders and installers in Queensland. A Carpentry licence authorises the holder to construct timber stairs and do "incidental work" such as installing balustrades. A Joinery licence authorises the holder to manufacture and install timber or aluminium components for windows, doors, sashes and stairs.

Balustrades - South Australia

In SA, Consumer and Business Services (CBS) defines a builder as an individual or company that engages in a wide range of related activities, including renovation or restoration work. A balustrade installer in SA will usually engage in other types of building work and will probably have one or both of two types of licences:

  • A Building Contractor licence authorizes the holder to enter into contracts and appoint subcontractors.
  • A Building Supervisor Licence is needed for a carpenter who supervises other workers.

A Building Contractor must also have a Building Supervisor licence.

Balustrades - Western Australia

In WA, the Builders’Registration Act 2011 states that any building work that costs over $20,000 or requires a building permit (such as most structural work) must be carried out or supervised by a licensed Building Contractor or Building Practitioner. Since it is unlikely staircase and balustrade installation will cost that much, you probably won't need to hire a licensed contractor or practitioner.

Since a trade licence is not required, make sure the person who builds and installs your balustrade is qualified. They should have a track record of exceptional work in your area and be able to provide you with references. They should also carry insurance.

Balustrades - Tasmania

The Department of Justice issues trade licences in Tasmania. Carpentry and other work a balustrade installer might do falls under the broad definintion of building work, which includes “construction, demolition, alteration, addition, relocation or repair” of buildings. Reputable staircase and balustrade installers in Tasmania will be registered Building Practitioners. Α Low Rise Practitioner is accredited to construct buildings of 2 storeys or less. This is sufficient for most residential work.

Building Practitioners in Tasmania are required by law to hold Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. This is an important point to remember when you choose someone to install balustrades on your property. Any tradie working on your property should be fully insured.

Balustrades - Australian Capital Territory

The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) issues building-related trade licences in the Australian Capital Territory. ACTPLA issues four types of building licences. Your balustrade installer is likely to hold one of these two:

  1. A Class C Builder is limited to building work on a restricted number of residential building classes and non-habitable structures such as garages, carports and sheds.
  2. Class D Builders can do non-structural building work only.

Their licence may also include specific restrictions or endorsements. Their Construction Occupation Licence will clearly state:

  • Their occupation
  • The Class of licence they hold
  • The licence expiry date
  • All conditions, restrictions, and endorsements that apply to their licence.

Make sure the person you hire to install your balustrade is endorsed to do that and any other type of work they carry out in the course of building and installing your balustrade.

Balustrades - Northern Territory

The Building Practitioners Board is responsible for registering builders in the NT. A builder’s licence is not needed in the Northern Territory for renovations that do not “increase interior floor space” or do not exceed $12,000 in cost (labour and materials).

In some NT counties, a Home Improvement Licence is needed for renovations and other home improvements that cost $3000 or more. If your balustrade installation is part of a larger job such as building a staircase or deck, check with your local council to find out if a Home Improvement Licence is required in your area.

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