Originally a structure designed to be a support for climbing plants, the definition of a pergola has been expanded to include roofed or covered outdoor structures. Pergolas today are used as patio coverings, shady garden getaways for relaxation, spa or barbecue shelters and even as outdoor home extensions.
Licensing of Pergola Installers
For licensing purposes, pergolas are considered outdoor structures that must meet Building Code Australia (BCA) construction standards. At a minimum, they must be of sound construction to minimise the chance of collapse.
States and territories have different licensing laws for pergola builders and installers. In some states, pergola installers must be licensed if they construct pergolas over a certain cost. In many areas, licensing authorities make a distinction between timber and metal constructions.
Whether your pergola project requires a licensed installer or not, it’s always best to hire licensed professionals. Their trade license means they have proven their competence to the licensing authorities in your state. If a licence to install pergolas is not required in your state or territory, look for installers who have demonstrated their abilities in their previous work.
To find out more about licensing regulations in your state, scroll down to the state-by-state entries below.
Types of Pergolas
Pergolas today come in all shapes and sizes and are made from a variety of materials. Typically, a pergola frame will be made from timber, treated steel or aluminium. A pergola may have a traditional open roof or be covered with a roofing material. Popular roofing materials include Colorbond, polycarbonate and, for an exotic look, thatch. Retractable covers are also becoming increasingly popular.
A pergola can be custom-made or come in kit form. So many kits are now available; your “kit” pergola can look virtually custom-made. Whether your pergola comes in kit form or is built on site from the ground up, the trade licensing laws in your state will apply to their construction. Find your state in the entries below for further information.
NSW Fair Trading is the statutory body in charge of issuing trade licences in New South Wales. Pergola building or installation falls under the broad “building” category of trades for licensing purposes. NSW Fair Trading stipulates that all building projects valued at $1,000 or more (including labour and materials) must be carried out by licensed professionals.
Two types of Builder’s licences exist in New South Wales:
Builder’s licences in NSW are further divided into certificate classes to allow specialist builders to carry out their work without having to obtain unrestricted licences. If you are having a steel or aluminium pergola installed, your contractor and supervisor may carry a licence restricted to “Erection of prefabricated metal framed home additions and structures” licence. If you are having a timber pergola installed, your builder will have a current Carpenter’s license if they are not a licensed builder.
The Building Practitioners Board (BPB) regulates the building industry in Victoria. The BPB stipulates that building work over the value of $5,000 (materials and labour) must be carried out or supervised by a registered builder. Registration in Victoria is the equivalent to a trade licence in other states and registered builders must carry valid and current registration cards.
The registration system in Victoria divides builders into classes:
The letters in parentheses are the code designations for the classes. Further code letters designate the type of work a builder is authorised to carry out. Pergola builders often have DB-L registration cards limited to structural landscaping, which has an additional code letter. A “DB-L U” card authorises the holder to perform work “related to fences, pergolas, gazebos, retaining walls, ornamental structures, site preparation, landscape paving and landform structures requiring fabricated internal support.”
Although a simple pergola may not cost as much as $5,000, it’s always best to hire registered pergola installers to ensure your pergola is professionally installed and will withstand the test of time.
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) is the statutory body in charge of issuing trade licences to building practitioners in the State of Queensland. Only licensed building practitioners are authorised to carry out any building work valued at $3,300 or more, labour and materials included.
In Queensland, “scope of work” licences are issued to qualified builders who carry out building work of limited scope. A pergola builder will probably hold a “Builder Restricted” licence that may also be further restricted to “Structural Landscaping,” which includes a variety of structures, including pergolas, gazebos, carports, decks and other outdoor structures.
The person you enter into a contract with should hold a Contractor Licence. A contractor is also authorised to supervise your project, but if they are not on site, the person supervising the project must hold a Nominee Supervisor Licence.
The Consumer and Building Services (CBS) offices of the South Australian Attorney General’s Department govern building trades in this state. CBS Builder’s licences are divided into two broad categories:
A Building Contractor must also be registered as a Building Supervisor and if they do not directly supervise building work, they must nominate a registered supervisor to oversee construction.
As in other states, restricted building licences are available to builders who engage in specific activities. Three types of “standard conditions” licences are available to pergola builders in South Australia:
The first licence category, “Pergolas & Verandahs” authorises the licence holder to build and install all types of pergolas.
All builders and related tradespersons are required by law to be licensed by the Building Services Board in Western Australia. Under the Builders’ Registration Act 2011, individuals, partnerships and companies that undertake building work valued over $20,000 or work that requires a building permit must have one or both of two types of licences:
In WA, many types of non-structural and non-habitable structural works do not require these types of licences and if you hire a pergola builder or installer, they may hold a business licence rather than a builder’s licence.
A number of types of business licences are available in WA. A person working on their own from their home may have a Home Occupation Licence issued by their local council. Larger businesses will have another type of licence. In all cases, business licence holders are required to abide by local, state and federal Codes of Practice. If they are in a building-related trade such as pergola building/installation, they must also adhere to Building Code Australia (BCA) regulations.
Your pergola builder may hold one or more types of business licences. If they install steel kit pergolas, they will probably hold a “Structural Steel Erection Services” licence. If they install a roof on your pergola, they may hold a “Metal roof fixing” licence.
Other licences or permits may be needed, depending on the city or region you live in. Before hiring a pergola builder or installer in WA, contact your local council. They will be able to tell you what regulations are in place in your area.
The Department of Justice governs building work in Tasmania. Building practitioners are “accredited” rather than “licensed” by the Department of Justice.
A builder in Tasmania may be accredited in one or both of two categories:
The difference is that you can enter into a contract with a “Builder,” while a “Construction Manager” is authorised to oversee building work.
An accredited builder in Tasmania may also receive accreditation with conditions or restrictions. A pergola builder, for example, does not need to know how to build a habitable structure such as a house and may have accreditation restricted to their areas of expertise.
All accredited builders in Tasmania must have:
Building Practitioners in Tasmania must renew their licences yearly. Part of the renewal process includes proving they have undergone Ongoing Professional Development (OPD) training, so hiring a registered Building Practitioner in Tasmania also means they will be up-to-date with current building standards and practices.
ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA) issues trade licences to building professionals in the Australian Capital Territory. Builders licences are divided into four work categories:
Pergolas are classified as “non-habitable structures,” so your pergola builder will probably hold a Class C licence. Their licence may also further restrict the types of work they are authorised to carry out or endorse them for additional, related types of work such as roofing or erecting steel structures. Their ACTPLA issued licence will clearly state:
The Building Practitioners Board is responsible for registering builders in the Northern Territory. State-wide, builders only need to be registered as such if they build new habitable buildings such as houses, townhouses and residential units. They do not need to be registered as building contractors if they:
While a pergola builder may not be required to hold a builder’s licence in all parts of the NT, some individual counties require builders in the above categories to hold “Home Improvement” licences. Check with your local council for regulations that apply in your area.
Whether a licence is required or not, all building practitioners in the Northern Territory are expected to comply with Building Code Australia standards and Australian business Codes of Practice.