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Technical Q&A


Q: I have been approached by several clients requesting to do roofing repairs due to damage after the recent storms. Do I need to take out fidelity cover or Residential Building Insurance?

A: You may need to take out cover depend on the extent of the building work involved.

After the severity of the recent storms the work may be considered a little more than just maintenance.

Cover is required where the work is considered to be ‘’building work’‘ as defined under the Building Act 2004 and where that building work is valued at $12,000 or more.

If it is considered ‘’building work” then Fidelity Fund cover or Residential Building Insurance would be required to be taken out.

The purpose of the cover is provided by a licensed builder for the benefit of the building owner.


The definition of ‘‘building work” in the Building Act 2004 means–

(a) work in relation to the erection, alteration or demolition of a building, and includes disposal of waste materials generated–

(i) by the alteration of a building other than a building excluded under the regulations; or

(ii) by the demolition of a building (but not part of the building); or

(b) work in relation to repairs of a ‘’structural” nature to a building.


The definition of ‘’structural” element in the Building (General) Regulations 2008 means–

(a) a load-bearing component of the building (whether internal or external) that is essential to the stability of the building or part of it; or

(b) a component (including weatherproofing) forming part of the external walls or roof of the building.

A licensed building surveyor, or Building Certifier should be able to advise you whether the work is deemed building work and if it requires a commencement notice before the building work starts.

As mentioned cover is for the benefit of the building owner to protect them against financial loss should the builder be unable to complete the works or return to rectify defective work due to the builder’s death, insolvency or disappearance.


While on the topic of insurance cover I will provide a brief reminder when Fidelity Fund Certificates are required:

New residential buildings

Fidelity Fund Certificates are required for the construction of all sole occupancy residences being class 1 building (detached house) or class 2 building (town house, units, apartments). Both separate dwellings and those attached to other dwellings by party walls. This includes: 

  • multi-residential units up to 3 storeys in height constructed over separate ground floor –œ carparking, commercial offices and/or shops;
  • garages that are an integral part of the new building: i.e. under the same roof as the residence


Additions and alterations to residences

Fidelity Fund Certificates are required for building work valued at $12,000 or more, that requires building approval.

This includes alterations that form part of the structural integrity of the building, i.e.

  • excavations that will affect the structure; and
  • the removal of internal walls, being either load bearing or acting as bracing units such as required in Australian Standards AS 1684 Residential Timber-framed Construction.


Not all internal renovations in excess of $12,000 require building approval. For example kitchen and bathroom upgrades, do not require Fidelity Fund Certificates. 

Before work can commence, the Building Certifier is required to verify the authenticity and validity of the Certificate, then give the licensed builder the Building Commencement Notice for each dwelling on that block. 

When applying for a Master Builders Fidelity Certificate, a separate application must be completed for each house or unit.

I have also written about this topic in previous Master Builder ACT Weekly Member Updates.

If you have any technical questions you can  contact Master Builders ACT (02) 6175 5900.