{{ propApi.closeIcon }}
Our industry
Our industry $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Economic research and forecasting Economics Housing outlook Tailored market research Economic reports and data Inspiring Australia's building professionals HOUSING The only place to get your industry news Media releases Member alerts Submissions See all
Business support
Business support $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Become an apprentice host Hire an apprentice Why host a HIA apprentice? Apprentice partner program Builder and manufacturer program Industry insurance Construction legal expenses insurance Construction works insurance Home warranty insurance Tradies and tool insurance Planning and safety services Building and planning services How can HIA Safety help you? Independent site inspections Solutions for your business Contracts Online HIA Tradepass HIA SafeScan HR Docs Trusted legal support Legal advice and guidance Professional services Industrial relations
Resources & advice
Resources & advice $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Building it right Building codes Australian standards Getting it right on site See all Building materials and products Concrete, bricks and walls Getting products approved Use the right products for the job See all Managing your business Dealing with contracts Handling disputes Managing your employees See all Managing your safety Falls from heights Safety rules Working with silica See all Building your business Growing your business Maintaining your business See all Other subjects COVID-19 Getting approval to build Sustainable homes
Careers & learning
Careers & learning $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
A rewarding career Become an apprentice Apprenticeships on offer Hear what our apprentices say Advice for parents and guardians Study with us Find a course Get your builder's licence Learn with HIA
HIA community
HIA community $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Join HIA Sign me up How do I become a member? What's in it for me? Get involved Become an award judge Join a committee Partner with us Get to know us Our members Our people Our partners Mates rates What we do Mental health program Charitable Foundation GreenSmart
Awards & events
Awards & events $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Awards Australian Housing Awards Awards program National Conference Industry networking Events
HIA products
HIA products $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
Shop @ HIA Digital Australian Standards Contracts Online Shipping and delivery Purchasing terms & conditions Products Building codes and standards Hard copy contracts Guides and manuals Safety and signage See all
About Contact Newsroom
$vuetify.icons.faTimes
$vuetify.icons.faMapMarker Set my location Use the field below to update your location
Address
Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.text}} {{region}} Change location
{{propApi.title}}
{{propApi.successMessage}} {{region}} Change location

$vuetify.icons.faPhone1300 650 620

Signing Domestic Building contracts

Can you sign your contracts with an electronic signature? Do witnesses to a contract need to observe all parties signing together? Can interstate clients sign their contract and fax or email it back to you? If these queries are common to your business, read on and be sure to get the right answers to your questions!

Electronic signatures

Many commercial transactions do not require a signature at all. However the building industry is unique.

For instance, under Schedule 1B of the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991 (the QBCC Act) not only must a building contract with a purchase price of $3,300 or more be in written form, it also must be signed by the building contractor and building owner (or their authorised agents). However, with the increased use of online and electronic transactions, many businesses are looking to alternatives and value the efficiency associated with electronic signatures. 

An electronic signature is any method which applies a “signature” to an electronic message. This may range from a specially designed “digital” signature, inserting an image of a handwritten signature or even simply the typed name of the sender.

Fortunately, the use of electronic signatures is provided for under the Electronic Transactions (Queensland) Act 2001 (the ETA), which states that if a person’s signature is required by a State law (such as the QBCC Act) the requirement is met by using an electronic signature provided the method is reliable and appropriate in the circumstances and the other contracting party consents to the use of an electronic signature. 

The rules relating to witnesses

In Queensland, there is no legal requirement that a domestic building contract be signed by a witness. However, HIA’s contracts have provision for witnesses. By signing the contract, the builder’s and the owner’s respective witnesses are confirming that they have observed the contracting parties sign the contract. In other words, the builder’s witness attests to the builder’s signature and the owner’s witness attests to the owner’s signature. 

Importantly, all parties do not need to sign the contract together. Each witness only needs to observe and attest to their respective party’s signature. Whilst there is no legal requirement that witnesses sign the contract, HIA recommends that you nonetheless endorse this practice. Indeed, if a legal dispute arises as to the validity of a party’s signature, witnesses can confirm the legitimacy of the signatures. 

Faxing, emailing and photocopying 

Parties to a contract are permitted to email a signed copy of a contract. The ETA provides that if a State law requires a person to give information in writing (such as the requirements applicable to building contracts under the QBCC Act) the requirement is met via an electronic communication if the method is reliable and appropriate in the circumstances and the other contracting party consents to the use of this method. This legal principle applies to the scanning, faxing and emailing of domestic building contracts. 

What is important, however, is that all parties sign the same version of the contract. For example, if you are contracting with a home owner who is interstate, you would email a copy of the contract requesting that the owner sign it and email it back to you, and you would then sign the same version of the contract. Indeed, it is fundamental that a contract is signed by both parties. 

Unless the contract contains a “counterpart execution clause” it will usually be insufficient to have two versions of the contract in existence (one signed by each party) as such a contract risks being be declared void by the Courts. 

To find out more, contact HIA InfoCentre

Email us

Share with your network:

More articles on:

{{ tag.label }} {{ tag.label }} $vuetify.icons.faTimes
Find guides, how-tos, resources and more
Latest articles
View all news $vuetify.icons.faArrowRight
19 May
Adoption of the model WHS laws

Western Australia’s new harmonised model of the Work Health & Safety (WHS) Act and Regulations have commenced. This webinar will help you understand your obligations under the new laws.

19 May
Engaging contractors in NSW - Details to collect from your contractor

This checklist provides a summary of some of the information and details you should seek from a contractor when engaging their services. Some of these may be legally required, whereas others are a commercial decision for your business.

18 May
Vale Mario Biasin

HIA is deeply saddened by the loss of housing industry leader Mario Biasin

18 May
Termination and redundancy under the BCI Award

The Building and Construction General On-site Award 2020 (the Award) is an industry award, which applies to employers and their employees working in on-site building, engineering and civil construction.

Managing your business


 

Can’t find what you need, check out other resources that might be closer to the mark.

Explore resources

Business support


 

Supporting building professionals with custom built services and products.

  • Legal support
  • Contracts Online
  • Host an apprentice
  • Insurance services
  • Managing safety

Explore Business support