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Carpentry is generally defined as the “occupation or activity of making or repairing things made of timber,” but this doesn’t really cover the range of materials a carpenter works with or the skills carpentry requires. Today, a carpenter may be the person in charge of installing items made by a joinery or they may do specialised building work. In the course of their day, they will work with timber, but carpenters also work with composite materials, metal framing and a host of other materials. One carpenter might do framing work while a finish carpenter will do the detail work that requires a different set of skills.

Licensing of Carpenters

Because carpentry encompasses such a broad range of skills, the licensing of carpenters is handled differently in individual states and territories. In one state, carpenters may need to have builders’ licences, while others issue carpenters’ licences that strictly define the scope of work they can carry out. Still other states define carpentry as “non-structural” work and have no licensing requirements. Scroll down to our state-by-state entries for further information about the licensing of carpenters in your state or territory.

Types of Carpentry Jobs

Carpenters carry out a wide range of activities. You might hire a licensed carpenter to:

  • Install new windows or doors
  • Make a built-in closet
  • Build a pergola
  • Install decking
  • Install awnings
  • Install a skylight
  • Build a staircase

That’s just a short list of the many types of jobs a carpenter might do. It’s important to remember that your carpenter may require a licence for the specific job or skill set you hire them to do even in states where a carpenter’s licence is not required.

Carpentry - NSW

NSW Fair Trading strictly defines carpentry and carpenters in New South Wales must have trade licences. According to NSW Fair Trading a carpenter is someone who cuts and fixes timber or timber composites in on site construction work. A carpenter’s job can include everything from placing temporary formwork for concreting to any of the types of jobs listed above. With the exception of non-habitable structures such as gazebos, carpentry does not include structural building work in NSW.

In NSW, a licence is required for all building work valued at over $1,000, including labour and materials. In addition, if the job you hire a carpenter to do requires structural work and/or requires the supervision of other trades, your carpenter may also need to have a builder’s licence or work under the supervision of a licensed builder.

Carpentry - Victoria

In Victoria, the Building Practitioners Board (BPB) regulates the building industry. For general carpentry work, a carpenter will hold a DB-L-C registration card. In many cases, a carpenter will hold a DB-L registration card that will list the skills their limited registration authorises them to carry out.

In most cases, a Certificate of Registration must be renewed every three years, but there are exceptions. Your carpenter’s registration card will show the expiration date of their registration. Also note that Building Practitioners in Victoria are required by law to carry domestic building insurance if the work they engage in exceeds $12,000 in value.

Carpentry - Queensland

The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) Act 1991 stipulates that building work exceeding $3,300 in value (labour and materials) must be carried out by a licensed builder. This includes carpenters who:

  • Physically engage in building work;
  • Are directly or indirectly responsible for the work of others; and/or
  • Provide administrative, managerial, advisory or supervisory services such as quoting; entering into contracts; supervising labour or subcontractors; and related responsibilities.

There are four classes of builders’ licences in Queensland:

  1. Builder Low Rise
  2. Builder Medium Rise
  3. Builder Open
  4. Builder Project Management Services

Your carpenter may hold a Builder Restricted Licence that limits the scope of work they are authorised to carry out to specific activities such as:

  • Kitchen, Bathroom and Laundry Renovations
  • Shop fitting
  • Structural landscaping
  • Incidental work

Your carpenter may also need a contractor’s licence or a sub-trade contractor’s licence, depending on the job you need done and the number of trades required.

Carpentry - SA

The Attorney General’s Department governs licensing and registration of builders in 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;

  • Doing business as a building work contractor
  • Doing building work with a view to selling or letting land and/or buildings
  • Doing demolition and/or site preparation work
  • Engaging in restoration or renovation work. This can painting, installing built-in cupboards/wardrobes, erecting fencing, and other internal and external enhancements

Since carpentry is needed for “restoration or renovation work” in South Australia, your carpenter will need hold one or both of two types of builders’ licences:

  1. A Building Supervisor Licence is needed for a carpenter who supervises other workers.
  2. A Building Contractor licence authorizes the holder to engage in carpentry work, enter into contracts and appoint subcontractors. In SA, Building Contractor’s must also be registered as Building Supervisors.

Building Contractor licences must be renewed every year in South Australia.

Carpentry - WA

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.

Most smaller carpentry jobs don’t cost as much as $20,000 or require a building permit. When you hire a carpenter, though, keep in mind that:

  1. If they are uninsured, you could be held liable for any accidents or injuries that occur while they are working on your property.
  2. Carpentry is the final stage of construction. The finished job will only be as good as the skills of the carpenter.

Except for general carpentry work, it’s best to hire carpenters who specialise in the type of work you need to have done. Special techniques are needed to properly install windows, for example. A window and door installer knows how to install windows and doors that open and close smoothly and do not leak.

Carpentry - Tasmania

The Department of Justice issues trade licences in Tasmania. No specific carpenter’s licence exists in Tasmania, but carpentry does fall under the broader definition of building work, which includes “construction, demolition, alteration, addition, relocation or repair” of buildings. All tradies whose occupation includes any of these building works must be Registered Building Practitioners.

There are three classes of Building Practitioner in Tasmania. Á Low Rise Practitioner is accredited to construct buildings of 2 storeys or less only. This class is sufficient for most residential carpentry work.

There are also four categories of builder recognised by the Tasmanian Department of Justice:

  1. Builder;
  2. Construction Manager;
  3. Fire Protection Services Builder; or
  4. Demolisher.

While your carpenter may not need to have all the skills necessary for structural building, all Building Practitioners in Tasmania are required by law to hold Public Liability and Professional Indemnity insurance. This is important to remember when you hire a carpenter because if they are not insured, you can be held liable for any mishaps that occur while they are working for you.

Carpentry – ACT

The ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) is in charge of issuing building related trade licences in the Australian Capital Territory. One or more of four classes of builder’s licences might apply to a carpenter you hire. Class A and B licences are needed for medium to high rise structural building work, while Class C and Class D licenses are more restricted:

  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.

In addition, a carpenter may have an endorsement to carry out specific types of work. Internal fit-outs, for example, is a common endorsement a carpenter may have that allows them to carry out this type of work but excludes them from doing structural work or some types of work a fully qualified Class D Builder could do.

Your carpenter’s 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.

For your protection, only hire carpenters who are endorsed to undertake the type of work you need to have done. Their licence and endorsement is proof they have the minimum qualifications needed for the job.

Carpentry - Northern Territory

The Building Practitioners Board is responsible for registering builders in the NT. Unlike in other states, a builder’s licence is not needed in the Northern Territory for renovations that do not “increase interior floor space.” This often includes many renovations and repairs you may need a carpenter for unless the total cost of labour and materials exceeds $12,000. Other exemptions include:

  • Free-standing sheds and fences;
  • Verandas or carports added to existing homes or units;

If your carpenter advertises their services and enters into contracts, they may need one of two types of contractor’s licences:

  1. A Building Contractor Residential (Restricted) licence is restricted to buildings two storeys or less in height.
  2. A Building Contractor Residential (Unrestricted) licence carries no height restrictions.

If the cost of your project exceeds $12,000, your carpenter will need one of these licences.

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