Building Contractor Kaihanga Whare

Building contractors run their own businesses and plan, supervise and work on the construction and alteration of buildings.

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Some building work has to be carried out or overseen by a Licensed Building Practitioner. To get a licence, you have to prove your experience and/or have appropriate qualifications.

Building contractors may do some or all of the following:

  • discuss building plans with architects, clients and tradespeople
  • hire and supervise tradespeople such as electricians and plumbers
  • organise details of contracts
  • decide on materials needed 
  • estimate the cost of jobs
  • arrange building consents 
  • construct, alter and repair buildings
  • ensure building standards and correct health and safety practices are met
  • keep accounts and collect payments.

Physical Requirements

Building contractors need to be fit, healthy and strong as they have to lift heavy materials and equipment. They must also be comfortable working at heights.

Useful Experience

Useful experience for building contractors includes:

  • carpentry work
  • other building trade work
  • running a small business.

Personal Qualities

Building contractors need to be:

  • accurate, with an eye for detail
  • safety-conscious
  • able to make good judgements
  • able to work with a range of people
  • motivated, as they often work independently and must find their own work
  • good at planning and organising.


Building contractors need to have:

  • building and carpentry skills
  • ability to interpret building plans and drawings
  • knowledge of building methods and materials
  • knowledge of building standards and safety regulations
  • knowledge of health and safety procedures on building sites
  • maths skills
  • small business skills. 


Building contractors:

  • may work irregular or long hours, and on weekends
  • work on building sites or existing buildings
  • work in all types of weather and in conditions that may be muddy, noisy and dusty
  • may travel within their region for work.

Subject Recommendations

No specific secondary education is required for this job, but maths, English, construction and mechanical technologies, and accounting to at least NCEA Level 2 are useful. 

Year 11 and 12 learners can find out more about the construction industry, and gain relevant skills, by doing a National Certificate in Building, Construction and Allied Trades (Levels 1 and 2) through the BConstructive programme.

For Year 11 to 13 learners, trades academies and the STAR and Gateway programmes are good ways to gain relevant experience and skills.

These programmes may help you gain an apprenticeship, but do not reduce the amount of time it takes to complete it.

Building Contractors can earn around .

Chances of getting a job as a Building Contractor are good due to a shortage of people interested in this type of work.

There are no set pay rates for building contractors, and what you earn depends on your ability, how often you work and what type of building work you do.


Independent building contractors may progress to management positions in building companies or move into construction site management or project management roles. 

Building contractors may specialise in commercial or residential building work.

Years Of Training

3-4 years of training usually required.

There are no specific requirements to become a building contractor, but most are experienced carpenters who have worked in the building and construction industry.

A New Zealand Certificate in Carpentry (Level 4) or other building qualification may be useful.

Building Contractor