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If you want to learn how to start a housing construction business in NSW, you can use this page as a guide to get you started.

You may need to complete only some of these transactions, depending on your business needs. For example, you can apply for a construction induction card without needing a high risk work licence. If you're undertaking specialist building work, such as plumbing or electrical wiring, you may need to apply for additional licences from NSW Fair Trading.

Before you invest time and money into setting up your business by registering and applying for the right business licences, make sure you put together a business plan and carefully consider how viable your business is. Many businesses fail when these things aren't considered.

If you need advice, a valuable source of information is available through the government’s Business Connect program. A trusted advisor will help you in making decisions on business structure, creating a business plan, and any other questions you may have before starting. The first 4 hours are free.

Consider this list an ideal starting point to find out what's relevant to starting your housing construction business.

Before starting a small business, it's important you choose the best structure for your business type. The most commonly used business structures are sole trader, company, partnership, and trust.

Set up as a sole trader
Operating as a sole trader is the simplest and cheapest business structure you can set up. You control and manage the business, and although you 'trade' on your own, you can still employ people to work for you.

Register a company
If you've decided a company structure is best for your business, you'll need to register your company with the Australian Government.

Register a limited partnership
If you’ve decided a limited partnership structure is best for your business, you’ll need to register the limited partnership with the NSW Fair Trading’s Registry Services.

Set up a trust business structure
A trust is an obligation imposed on one person or entity – the trustee, to hold property for the benefit of another – the beneficiary. The trustee can be an individual or a company, the latter providing some asset protection.

Register a co-operative
If you've decided a co-operative is best for your business, you'll need to register the co-operative with NSW Fair Trading's Registry Services.

Register an Australian Business Number (ABN)
You don't have to register for an ABN, but an ABN will let you claim Goods and Services Tax credits, energy grants credits, register an Australian domain name, plus more.

Apply for an Administrator AUSkey
An AUSkey is a unique secure login linked to an Australian business number (ABN), which allows you to access and send business information to government online.

Register a business name
You'll need to register a business name, unless you're a sole trader or partnership and your business name is exactly the same as your or you and your partner's first and last names.

Register your business for Goods and Services Tax (GST)
You must register your business for GST if your GST turnover is $75,000 or more.

Apply for a business Tax File Number
If you've decided a company, trust, or partnership structure is best for your business, you'll need to apply for a business Tax File Number. 

Apply for an individual Tax File Number
If you’ve decided a sole trader structure is best for your business, you’ll need to apply for an individual Tax File Number.

Apply for an Individual Contractor's Licence
You’ll need an Individual Contractor’s Licence if you want to do paid residential building work over $5,000.

Apply for a Partnership Contractor's Licence
You’ll need a Partnership Contractor’s Licence if you operate as a partnership that contracts, sub-contracts and/or advertises to do residential building work. A partnership is usually 2 or more people who are the legal entity behind the licence.

Apply for a Company Contractor's Licence
You’ll need a Company Contractor’s Licence if your organisation wants to contract, sub-contract and/or advertise to do residential building work. Your application needs to include a Nominated Supervisor that holds an Individual Contractor Licence or Qualified Supervisor Licence.

Apply for a Qualified Supervisor's Certificate
If you want to supervise residential building work, you’ll need to hold a Qualified Supervisor’s Certificate.

Apply for a general construction induction card
If you work in construction in NSW, you’ll need to hold a construction induction card, also known as a White Card. You’ll need to complete general construction induction training before starting work or applying for a card.

Apply for a high risk work licence
You’ll need to hold a high risk work licence to do high risk construction work, including operating cranes, forklifts, hoists and pressure equipment. You’ll need to complete high risk work training before starting work or applying for a card.

Mutual recognition of licensed occupations
If you’re already a licensed contractor in another state or territory, your qualifications may be recognised in NSW.

Get liability insurance for your business
You can choose to take out public liability, professional indemnity, or product liability insurance. Public liability insurance protects you and your business against the risks of damage or injury to people or property. While it's not mandatory, it's essential for a business.

Managing residential building contracts 
If you're going to do residential building work valued at $5,000 or more, you must have a 'small jobs' contract in place.

Apply for a certificate of eligibility
Before you can apply for home building compensation (HBC) cover you need a certificate of eligibility. 

Apply for home building compensation cover
If you’re a builder or tradesperson doing work on a residential building valued at $20,000 or more, including GST, you need to get home building compensation (HBC) cover.


Comply with Fair Work requirements
If you’re employing staff you must comply with Fair Work requirements like minimum pay and conditions.

Paying employees at award rates
You must make sure you're providing at least minimum wages and conditions for your permanent employees. These conditions are covered in the awards.

Register for PAYG withholding
You'll need to register for PAYG withholding if you need to withold tax (on behalf of the Australian Tax Office) from payments you make to employees, contractors, or other businesses that haven't supplied you an ABN.

Register with the Long Service Leave scheme (building and construction)
The Long Service Corporation (LSC) remunerates workers for long service in the housing construction industry.You must register as a building and construction employer with the LSC and comply with its requirements.

Paying super contributions using SuperStream
SuperStream is the way all employers are required to pay contributions and send information to super funds.

Register for the superannuation clearing house
If you have 19 or fewer employees or have an aggregated turnover below $2 million, you can register for the small business superannuation clearing house to pay super contributions to your employees in a single online location.

Use the Superannuation Guarantee Contributions Calculator
Use the calculator to check the super contributions you need to pay your employees. 

Comply with work health and safety laws
You must comply with work health and safety (WHS) laws so that people who come into contact with your business (customers, contractors or visitors) are kept healthy and safe.

Apply for a workers compensation insurance policy
If you're going to pay more than $7500 a year in wages, you'll need to have a workers compensation insurance policy.

Managing contractors and employees
You have different responsibilities if you engage contractors rather than permanent employees. It's important for you to learn about the differences.

    Register for the small business grant
    If you're within the payroll tax threshold, and intend to increase the number of full time, part-time and/or casual workers in your business, you may be able to register for the Small Business Grant.

    Dealing with customers – builders and tradespeople
    Building and renovating are complex tasks, so take the time to answer any concerns your customers might have, and be open to identifying problems early, so you can take steps to manage any potentially difficult situation.

    Lodge a home building complaint with NSW Fair Trading
    If you're involved in a home building dispute with an owner and have been unable to resolve the issue privately, you can seek advice from, or lodge a complaint with, NSW Fair Trading. They'll act as an informal negotiator, at no charge.

    Apply for a home building complaint hearing (NCAT)
    You can apply to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) for a hearing in a home building dispute up to the value of $500,000. Before NCAT can accept your application you must have first attempted negotiation through NSW Fair Trading.

    Register a trade mark
    A trade mark (sometimes called a brand) is the way you show your customers and the public who you are.

    Register a domain name for your business
    With an ABN, you can register a website name that ends with '.au'.

    Continuing professional development – builders
    All licensed builders must undertake continuing professional development (CPD) each year, in order to renew their licence.

    Notify SafeWork NSW of an incident
    Under work health and safety legislation, certain 'notifiable incidents' must be immediately reported to SafeWork NSW. 

    Small businesses are important to the NSW economy. Service NSW is trialling services to support one of these key areas – the housing construction industry. 

    We welcome your feedback on the information provided, and on how we could improve our services. Please Contact us to share your thoughts.

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