Building Permits

When do you need a building permit?

A building permit is needed for all major building projects including new homes, home extensions, garages and commercial/industrial projects.  A permit is also needed for small projects including sheds, retaining walls, fences, decks, carports, verandahs, swimming pools and spas.

Building permits are needed for these projects regardless of the cost to build.

How do I get a building permit?

A building surveyor is responsible for issuing a building permit at the start of a building project.

Building surveyors are responsible for ensuring buildings are safe, accessible and energy efficient, and therefore have an impact on the design, planning and functionality of buildings.

A building surveyor remains involved for the duration of the building project.  They carry out inspections – or have a building inspector carry out inspections on their behalf – to sign off each mandatory notification stage of construction.

Once building work is complete, the building surveyor is responsible for issuing the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection.

Application for a Building Permit

What projects need a building permit?

Buildings

  • New homes including small second homes
  • New bungalows, outbuildings or studios
  • Relocatable buildings
  • Commercial buildings
  • Alterations/additions
  • Additions to a building
  • Re-blocking or re-stumping
  • Adding or removing structural parts of a building
  • Alterations to a commercial building including layout changes
  • Alterations to, or introduction of, an essential safety measure including fire hose reels, fire hydrants, exit doors, fire extinguishers, exit signs, emergency lights, sprinklers.
  • Verandahs (roofed structure)
  • New verandahs
  • Impermeable shade sails
  • Pergolas (unroofed structure)
  • New pergolas with a floor area greater than 20m²
  • Permeable shade sails with a floor area greater than 20m²

Conversions

  • Converting a garage or shed into a habitable room
  • Changing the use of a room/area in a residential or commercial building

Swimming pools and spas

  • New swimming pools or spas capable of a water depth greater than 30cm
  • Pool or spa safety barriers

Fences

  • On corner blocks, front and side timber fences greater than 1.5m in height, within 3m of the front or side street boundary.
  • On corner blocks, front and side masonry/brick fences greater than 1.2m in height, within 3m of the front or side street boundary.
  • On corner blocks, any fence greater than 1m in height within 9m of the street corner point, measured in both directions along the boundary line of the block.
  • Any side fence, between properties that is greater than 2m in height.
  • Front and side timber fences greater than 1.5m in height, within 3m of the front boundary.
  • Front and side masonry/brick fences greater than 1.2m in height, within 3m of the front boundary.

Decks and landings

  • All decks and landings

Sheds, garages, carports and shipping containers

  • All garages, sheds, carports and shipping containers

Retaining walls

  • A retaining wall within 1m of a boundary or another building
  • A retaining wall 1m or more in height

Masts and antennas

  • Greater than 3m above the building to which it’s attached
  • Greater than 8m above the ground.

Roofing

  • Replacement of corrugated iron roofing with concrete or terracotta roofing tiles; or
  • Replacement of concrete or terracotta roofing tiles with corrugated iron roofing.; or
  • Replacement of corrugated iron roofing with another pre-finished metal sheeting which requires the installation of structural battens

Demolition

Demolition or partial demolition of any building requires a building permit unless it meets the following exemption criteria:

Demolition of a freestanding Class 10 non-habitable building (sheds, carports, garages) that:

  • Is not constructed of masonry
  • Does not exceed 40 m2 in floor area
  • Will not adversely affect the safety of the public or occupiers of the building
  • Is not work carried out on, or in connection with, a building included on the Heritage Register within the meaning of the Heritage Act 2017

Demolition or partial demolition undertaken for the repair/renewal or maintenance of an existing building (any building), if the work:

  • Will not adversely affect the structural soundness of the building, and does not include:
  • A decrease in floor area or height of the building
  • Underpinning or replacement of footings
  • The removal or alteration of any element of the building that is contributing to the support of any other building element
  • Will not adversely affect the safety of the public or occupiers of the building
  • Will not adversely affect an essential safety measure relating to the building

In addition to a building permit for demolition, Section 29A and 29B of the Building Act 1993 specify requirements for the demolition of buildings whereby the report and consent of the Municipal Building Surveyor may be required in relation to demolition of a building if it is visible from the street, or if more than 50% of the building is being removed or demolished. This application is known as:

29A Report and Consent on proposed demolition

Projects that do not need a building permit

Alterations

Replacement of non-structural external building components, for example weatherboards, doors or windows, if the building is not on a Heritage Register and the work will not adversely affect the public.

Replacement of non-structural internal building components, for example kitchens, bathrooms and laundry units, if the building is not on a Heritage Register and the work will not adversely affect the occupiers.

Wood heaters

( must be installed by a licenced plumber )

Garden sheds

  • Construction of a steel or timber garden shed in the backyard of a dwelling, which has a floor area less than 10m² and is less than 3m in height, or less than 2.4m in height when within 1m of a boundary.

Pergolas

  • Construction of a timber pergola at the backyard of a dwelling, which has a floor area less than 20m² and is less than 3.6m in height.
    NB: Pergola means an open structure that is unroofed but may have a covering of open weave permeable material i.e. shade cloth.

Roofing

  • Replacement of corrugated iron roofing with similar corrugated iron sheeting (colorbond) and no replacement of structural battens

Small second homes

On 14 December 2023 the Victorian State Government announced changed to the Victoria Planning Provisions, all planning schemes and the Building Regulations to make it easier to build a small second home giving families more housing choice and boosting housing supply.

A small second home of up to 60 square metres, otherwise known as a small second dwelling, no longer requires a planning permit in most cases where there are no flooding, environmental, heritage, or other special planning controls.

A small second home still requires a building permit, to meet siting, amenity, design and safety requirements and can be either attached, detached or a conversion.  Changes to the Planning Scheme means that these dwellings cannot be subdivided or separately sold off from the main home.

Definition of a second small home

A small second home is a dwelling which has a gross floor area that is equal to or less than 60 square metres which is self-contained to include a kitchen, bathroom, laundry facilities and toilet, located on the same lot as an existing home.

A small second home must not be connected to reticulated gas and does not require a car parking space.

You are only able to have two dwellings on the one allotment under this initiative - if there are more then you would require a planning permit.

Who can live in a small second home

Anyone can live in or rent out a small second home, including a family member, dependant person or unrelated persons.

The residential tenancy requirements that apply to a home also apply to a small second home, including minimum room sizes, facilities and smoke alarms.

Building a small second home

A small second home can be built on most properties in residential and rural zones without a planning permit.

A building permit is always required

Need to know more

Further information on this initiative is available from Planning Victoria. Further information and frequently asked questions in relation to Building Regulation requirements can be found at Victorian Building Authority.

 

Case studies

Retaining walls

  • A 600mm high timber retaining wall is proposed to be located 400mm from a boundary. A building permit is required as the retaining wall will be supporting or protecting adjoining land.

Decks / landings

  • A low timber deck is proposed to be constructed. A building permit is required for all decks or landings.

Garden sheds

  • A 4.0m(L) X 2.4m(W) X 1.8m(H) freestanding steel garden shed is proposed to be installed at the backyard of a dwelling close to the rear and side boundary. A building permit is not required as the shed is less than 10m² and less than 2.4m in height.

Verandahs (roofed)

  • A verandah is proposed to be constructed attached to a building. A building permit is required for all attached verandahs.

Pergolas (unroofed)

  • A 6m(L) X 4m(W) X 2.7m(H) timber and shade cloth pergola is proposed to be constructed attached to a building. A building permit is required as the pergola is greater than 20m².
  • Carport
  • A 6m(L) X 4m(W) X 2.7m(H) timber framed and metal roofed carport is proposed. A building permit is required as the carport is greater than 10m².

Shipping container

  • A 20ft long shipping container is proposed to be placed on an allotment for either domestic or commercial use.  A building permit is required as the shipping container is greater than 10m2  Shipping containers, used for any purpose other than shipping of goods, require a building permit.

Change of use

  • A garage is proposed to be used as a habitable room. A building permit is required to upgrade the building to reach the minimum standards required for the new use.
  • An existing retail shop is proposed to be used as a restaurant. A building permit is required to upgrade the building to reach the minimum standards required for the new use.

Swimming pool or spa

  • A spa with a depth greater than 30cm and with a lockable lid is proposed. A building permit is required as the spa depth exceeds 30cm and a lockable lid is not an approved safety barrier.

Illegal building works

Building work is illegal when a building permit is not issued for construction work that requires a building permit.

Legislative requirements

Part 16 of the Building Act 1993 states:

A person must not carry out building works unless a building permit in respect of the work has been issued and is in force under this Act and the work is carried out in accordance with this Act, the Building Regulations and the permit.

Penalties for such breaches can range from 500 penalty units for an individual to 2500 penalty units in the case of a body corporate.

The Victorian State Government sets the value of Infringement Penalty Units, to find out more click here

A building permit cannot be issued retrospectively for the works already carried out.

Where illegal building work has occurred Council can issue a Building Notice giving you the opportunity to show cause (indicate in writing) why the works were carried out without first obtaining a building permit.  You have 30 days from the date of the Notice to respond.

Included in your response above, should be an indication of whether you wish to retain the works or alternatively wish to demolish/remove the works carried out without a building permit.
At this point you are not permitted to do any further works including the demolition/removal of the illegal works.  You must only respond in writing to the Municipal Building Surveyor within the 30 days.

Demolition or removal of illegal works

The Council (Municipal Building Surveyor) will issue a Building Order giving you directions as to what works need to be done to reinstate the building/land to its original condition.  No work can be carried out until you have received this Building Order.

Process to legitimise the illegal building works

  1. Once you have decided to retain the structure and you have responded to the Building Notice advising Council of your intention, you will need to engage the services of a Registered Building Practitioner to prepare a report to the Municipal Building Surveyor advising on the adequacy of the illegal building work.  This will require the practitioner to inspect the works and he/she may then request additional information to support the retention of the work. In order to do so, you may be required to engage other consultants – registered building practitioners to prepare the architectural, structural plans, fire engineering reports, and/or others to justify/verify the illegal work.  (Again no works can be carried out at this point and all costs associated with the above will be your responsibility.)
  2. The report returned to the Council (Municipal Building Surveyor) will need to include relevant plans showing the location and construction of the work (similar to plans required to be submitted with a Building Application).  It will need to detail compliance with the Building Act, Building Regulations, National Construction Code (NCC) and Australian Standards.  The Registered Building Practitioner will also need to provide a signed Certificate of Compliance – confirming inspection dates and compliance with the relevant NCC and Australian Standard(s).  Should rectification work be required/recommended, a list of works will also need to be submitted for review, by the Municipal Building Surveyor. (Again all costs incurred to achieve the above will be your responsibility.)
  3. Upon receipt of the above report prepared by the Registered Building Practitioner the Municipal Building Surveyor will review the information and make a determination as to whether the illegal building work can be retained.  If it is considered that the works are satisfactory then the Building Notice will be cancelled.  If the illegal building work require rectification or are deemed unsuitable, the Municipal Building Surveyor will issue a Building Order to carry out a program of works.  Any cost incurred to carry out the building work nominated on the Building Order will be your responsibility.

Report submission

If you do not provide the above within the specified time frame, the Municipal Building Surveyor may issue a Building Order to remove/demolish the illegal building works.  However, if you have a legitimate reason for not being able to meet this time frame, you will need to request an extension of time in writing, from the Municipal Building Surveyor.