What You Need to Know About Contestable vs. Non-Contestable Works in Australia

Brad Smith
Written By Brad Smith

Subdivisions are common in most developed countries. They involve one large plot of land divided into many smaller ones. Each new plot will then have its own separate title. The goal is to improve housing availability or establish a new business district. The concept of subdivision is straightforward. However, much can go on behind the scenes to complicate matters. Regarding electrical infrastructure, it’s important to be aware of the following details: 

what you need to know about contestable vs non contestable works in australia

Subdivision Type Determines Contestable or Non-Contestable

The concept of contestable vs. non-contestable works might not immediately cross your mind. This can be true when you’re working through the legal challenges of subdivision. However, it doesn’t hurt to know the electrical infrastructure experts involved in your project based on subdivision type.

A subdivision would be contestable if it’s an underground subdivision with more than two lots. A local electrical distribution company or an accredited third party could provide electrical work in this case. However, it would become non-contestable if it’s an overhead subdivision or a block split into two. An incumbent electricity distribution company would need to carry out the work. 

You Can Choose Your Own Electrical Works Designer

You might not think you can work with third parties. After all, electrical distribution companies carry out some of your subdivision’s electrical work. However, you can choose an electrical works designer if you have an underground subdivision. A third party can design and construct a subdivision’s electrical work as long as they’re an approved design consultant. 

There Are Several Contestable Tasks

It can sometimes seem like you must let the supplier of non-contestable services take the lead on your subdivision project. However, there are a number of contestable tasks you can outsource to a recognized contractor within your budget. Typically, they can take the lead on: 

  • Project management
  • Design
  • Surveying and drafting services
  • Construction of materials and as-constructed plans 

Electrical Distribution Companies Take Care Of Important Works

It might seem strange that you can’t choose your own company for electrical work within your subdivision. However, the Australian Energy Regulator (AER) requires the use of electrical distribution companies for some tasks to ensure reliable network operations. They typically handle: 

  • Adoption of equipment
  • Contestable work testing and checking
  • Network design approval
  • Point of connection detection
  • Legal consents
  • Maintenance and repairs
  • Network reinforcement 

Subdivision Developers Play an Important Part

You might think you only need to worry about home systems due to a lack of qualifications in electrical work. However, you have an important part to play as a developer. You must undertake a number of tasks, such as appointing a project manager and selecting who completes your contestable work. You’ll also need to sign your developer’s agreement and prepare a services layout plan approved by the municipality. 

Most developers even provide their electrical distribution company with road construction plans. In some cases, developers are also responsible for civil works. This can involve tasks like excavating cable trenches and supplying and installing conduits. 

There’s more to subdivision planning than meets the eye. Understanding how contestable and non-contestable electrical work in Australia works might allow you to navigate the process more confidently.

smith brad omni

Written by Brad Smith

CEO & Lead Interior Designer

Brad Smith is an experienced interior designer and the founder of OmniHomeIdeas.com. With a Master's degree in Interior Design from Pratt Institute and a passion for creating safe and healthy living spaces, Brad shares his expert insights and innovative design ideas with our readers. His work is driven by the belief that home is where every story begins.