A domestic contract for minor building work is a contract for contracting work that is valued at under, or up to, $50,000. There are differences, of course, between domestic work and commercial work, which is important to understand before entering into a contractual agreement, either as the customer or the contractor.

While domestic work largely refers to places where people live, such as houses, apartments, condos, and the like, it can also refer to areas of commercial or industrial properties that serve as a residential dwelling. For example, perhaps you are a restaurant owner, whose apartment is located above the restaurant; even though it is all the same building, any work being done on your apartment would be considered domestic work. However, it would not also include any work that is being done on the restaurant.

Domestic building work includes:

  • Pertaining to a home, as in construction, renovation, demolition, repair, renovation of a home, or domestic dwelling
  • Work that is done as it pertains to a home, such as landscaping or electrical work
  • Site work, and work related to site work, for a home, such as clearing away debris to gain access the home
  • Preparing the plans, blueprints, etc., for any of the aforementioned work

Registration Requirements

Per the Building Act, there are certain specialties within the construction or contracting world that are required to be registered. Among them include:

  • Domestic and commercial builders
  • People who conduct demolitions
  • Building and quantity surveyors
  • Building inspectors
  • Engineers
  • Drafters, or draftspersons
  • Supervisors and erectors

If you fall within one of those aforementioned categories and need to obtain your registration, the application is required to be in writing. Additionally, it must specify the category for which you are looking to be registered. You must also provide proof of insurance, intent to comply with all laws and regulations, and pay the requisite fee involved.

Breach of Registration Requirements

Punishable by law, it is an offense for an unregistered party to portray themselves as though they are an engineer, builder, inspector, et al. (A builder being defined as an individual who carries out, manages, or generally facilitates the construction or work of a domestic building contract.) Additionally, while it may be acceptable for an unregistered party to facilitate work on a minor building contract, it is also an offense for an unregistered party to conduct domestic work on a major contract. As such, should you be working on a major building contract, you will be required to be registered, although that same requirement does not exist for minor domestic work.

Insurance Requirements

Not surprising, in order to obtain your registration, you will need to provide proof of insurance. After all, should someone become injured on your work site, you will need to be able to adequately provide coverage for their injuries.

Per the Ministerial Order of 23 May 2003, a builder involved with domestic building work is required to possess an indemnity insurance policy, which in turn, indemnifies said builder against any liability to the building owner, as it pertains to any losses or damages that are experienced resulting from some the following situations:

  • Work that is incomplete or somehow defective
  • Breach of statutory warranties
  • Failure to adhere to particular standards that exist within the industry
  • Loss of deposit

Additionally, your insurance policy must provide coverage for any damages or structural damages that may occur for a period of six years from the date of project completion. Meanwhile, non-structural defects are required to be covered by your insurance policy, for a period of up to two years from the time of project completion.

With that said, your insurance policy may exclude indemnity for the following:

  • Damages awarded or penalties resulting from a court settlement
  • Liability for providing compensation for indirect loss or bodily harm
  • Claims that come about as the result of undertaking work on domestic buildings

Additional Information

Obviously, work being done on a residential or domestic property can vary, wildly. It can be something as seemingly simple as building an attached garage on the side of the house, or paving the driveway, all the way to adding an entirely new level (also known as either a floor or story) to a home.

Ironically enough, when it comes to domestic building contracts, many people struggle with the various underlying issues more than others, even though a domestic project is generally going to be smaller in scope than a commercial one. After all, a small project does not always equate a small bill, and there are the emotional elements attached to a person’s home. As such, it is always advisable to consult with a knowledgeable attorney, when entering into such contracts.

If you need help with domestic contracts for minor building work, you can post your legal need on UpCounsel’s marketplace. UpCounsel accepts only the top 5 percent of lawyers to its site. Lawyers on UpCounsel come from law schools such as Harvard Law and Yale Law and average 14 years of legal experience, including work with or on behalf of companies like Google, Stripe, and Twilio.