What is ‘building work’?

‘Building work’ is defined in the Building and Construction Industry (Improving Productivity) Act 2016 (BCIIP Act).

You can review the complete BCIIP Act here.

The Code applies to building work, but the definition of building work under the Code is slightly narrower than the definition in the BCIIP Act. There are two types of building work that are subject to the laws in the BCIIP Act but are not subject to the Code:

  1. The off-site prefabrication of made-to-order components to form part of any building, structure or works, unless that work is performed on an auxiliary or holding site that is separate from the primary construction site or sites; and
  2. The transportation or supply of goods to be used for building work, directly to building sites (including any resources platform) where that work is being or may be performed.

Below, you can learn about the various types of building work that are subject to the Code. You can also read about whether the Code applies to:

  • residential building work
  • manufacturing
  • transport and supply
  • sole traders
  • semi-permanent structures

What is building work under the Code?

The definition of 'building work' in the Code is relatively broad and includes the following:

  • Any of the activities listed below, as they relate to buildings, structures or works that form, or are to form, part of land (including land beneath water), whether permanent or temporary, being:
    • construction
    • alteration
    • extension
    • restoration
    • repair
    • demolition
    • dismantling.
       
  • The same activities listed above, in so far as they relate to railways (not including rolling stock) and docks.
     
  • The installation of fittings in any building, structure or works forming, or to form, part of land, such as:
    • heating
    • lighting
    • air-conditioning
    • ventilation
    • power supply
    • drainage
    • sanitation
    • water supply
    • fire protection
    • security
    • communications systems.
  • Any operation that is part of, preparatory to, or is for rendering complete, any of the work described above, including:
    • site clearance, earth-moving, excavation, tunnelling or boring
    • the laying of foundations
    • the erection, maintenance or dismantling of scaffolding
    • the on-site prefabrication of made to-order components to form part of any building, structure or works
    • site restoration, landscaping or the provision of roadways and other access works.

Residential building work

Building work (as defined above) generally does not include residential building and construction. The Code does not apply to any work that is part of a project involving:

  • construction, repair or restoration of a single-dwelling house
  • construction, repair or restoration of any building, structure or work associated with a single-dwelling house
  • alteration or extension of a single-dwelling house (so long as it remains a single-dwelling house after the alteration or extension).

However, if this same work is undertaken as part of a multi-dwelling development that consists of, or includes, the construction of at least five single-dwelling houses, then the Code does apply.

Manufacturing

Generally, the manufacturing of building products does not fall within the scope of the Code unless it’s the on-site prefabrication of made-to-order components to form part of any building, structure or works.

Note that work undertaken on auxiliary or holding sites may be considered on-site work.

Transport and supply

The Code does not apply to the transportation or supply of goods directly to building sites—for example, the delivery of metal sheeting. However, if the supplier or transporter also performs building work on site, such as installing the goods or materials, then the installation is considered building work and the contractor is subject to the Code while performing that installation work.

Generally, the delivery and pumping/pouring of concrete may be covered by the Code. This is because such activity is considered to be ‘part of’ building work as described above (ie ‘the laying of foundations’, included in the definition of ‘building work’).

Maintenance

General maintenance is not included in the definition of building work. Accordingly, the Code generally doesn’t apply to maintenance work. For example, carrying out maintenance work on an existing structure, such as a bridge or road, to maintain its original state and function or to prevent future degeneration, is generally not considered building work.

However, if the work undertaken goes beyond maintenance to include activity such as repairing something that is damaged, broken or malfunctioning (for example, repairs to cladding and other structural repairs), then that work may be considered building work and therefore may be subject to the Code if undertaken by a code covered entity.

Sole Traders

A sole trader that is not a constitutional corporation cannot be subject to the Code unless they are performing building work in a Territory or Commonwealth place.

However subsection 8(4) of the Code requires a code covered entity to ensure that any agreement which is entered into in relation to building work with a subcontractor (which would include a subcontractor who is a sole trader) requires the subcontractor to act consistently with the Code in respect of the building work which is the subject of the agreement.

Semi-permanent structures

Whether the set-up of a semi-permanent structure falls within the definition of building work depends on whether it is a building or structure that forms, or is to form, part of land.

A semi-permanent structure may also constitute building work if it is preparatory to, or is for rendering complete, the construction of buildings, structures or works that form, or are to form, part of land. Examples include the erection, maintenance or dismantling of scaffolding, or site restoration, landscaping, and the provision of roadways and other access works.

Contractors not performing building work

If a contractor is not performing building work as defined above, then the contractor is not subject to the Code.

For example, consultants engaged to conduct design work are not covered by the Code unless they are performing building work on site. Similarly, licensed security guards patrolling and protecting building sites are not considered to be performing ‘building work'.

However, if work performed by a contractor is ‘part of’ the building work then they may be covered by the Code in respect of this work. For example, this could include project managers and engineers. However, each case depends on its particular circumstances.

Further information

Not sure whether work being performed on a particular project is covered by the Code?

We can help.

If your answer is not on this webpage, please email enquiry@abcc.gov.au for information, advice or assistance.