Renovating and Expanding Your Licensed Premises

As featured in the QHA Review

In the last year, we have seen a noticeable increase in trade amongst pubs and clubs. This has been a welcome change in comparison to the trying times through and recovery after the COVID-19 period. The increase also allows for pubs and clubs to consider expansions and renovations to accommodate for growth and facilitate further development of their business moving forward.

When renovating or expanding, there are 3 key considerations for a successful transition:

1. Change to Licence Area

Licensed pubs and clubs will require approval from the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation for proposed changes to the licensed area. Approval will be required where the proposed changes result in:

  • An increase or decrease in the size of the licensed area;
  • Rebuilding of the licensed premises; or
  • Major renovations to the premises.

Where the proposed works will result in any of the above criteria, the licensee will need to apply  for approval by submitting the required forms along with layout plans that clearly show the proposed changes to the licensed premises and the final proposed layout of the premises. It may also be necessary to provide site plans.

2. Local authority or private certifier

Aside from ensuring that any local authority development approvals have been obtained if required, it is important to engage a qualified builder to undertake any building works, engage other appropriately qualified consultants to design the technical requirements for the work, and to project manage and supervise the builder carrying out the work. Either the pub or club owner or the builder will need to engage a building certifier to undertake inspections of the building works. Generally speaking, it is usually the builder that engages a certifier to carry out necessary inspections of the builder’s work.

At the end of building works, the building certifier must complete a final inspection of the building work. The building certifier can then confirm that the building work is complete to the required standards or whether rectification works are required due to defects or incomplete work. It is important that a final inspection occurs at the end of building works, as it may be difficult to obtain a final inspection and certificate at a later time.  

3. Reviewing Building Contracts

There is legislation in Queensland which imposes minimum requirements on building contracts which pub or club owners will need to comply with when undertaking expansions or renovations to their premises. Below is a checklist which sets out the minimum requirements for building contracts in Queensland:

  1. Is the contract in writing?
  2. Does the contract contain the name of the builder and the licence number of the builder that will carry out the works as issued by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission?
  3. Are the site details (including the address of the land where the building work will be carried out) clearly set out?
  4. Does the contract clearly state the scope of works that the builder is required to perform?
  5. Does the contract clearly state the date for completion of the works or a timeframe to calculate the completion date?
  6. Does the contract clearly state the amount the builder will be paid for the work or how this amount is to be calculated?
  7. Does the contract set out any agreement between the parties about security or retention amounts to be withheld by the pub or club owner for the builder’s performance of the works under the contract?
  8. Does the contract set out payment terms?
  9. Does the contract provide a process for dispute resolution in the event there is a dispute between the parties under the contract?

If a building contract for a project does not include terms which deal with the above, there is a risk to pub and club owners that the contract in question will be unenforceable against the builder.

In any event, we always recommend that pub and club owners seek legal advice prior to entering into a building contract with a selected builder. This is necessary because the above checklist only reflects the minimum legislative requirements, and pub and club owners could potentially be unprotected against other additional risks which may be encountered over the course of building works. The risk to pub, hotel and club owners is that there may be both time and cost implications if the building contract does not sufficiently deal with a number of additional usual matters which are typically encountered during the course of building works.

If you are considering renovating your pub, hotel, or club premises, it is crucial that you engage a lawyer to properly review your building contracts.

Christina Martin, Senior Associate at Mullins Lawyers is a specialist with an understanding of the intricacies of building contracts. Should you have any queries about your planned renovations, please contact Christina on 07 3224 0273. For anything further regarding Liquor, Gaming, or OLGR requirements, please call me on 07 3224 0230.

“The content of this publication is for reference purposes only. It is current at the date of publication. This content does not constitute legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. Legal advice about your specific circumstances should always be obtained before taking any action based on this publication.”
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