General Building Information

Permits and certificates

New Houses/ Extensions

Building a new home or undertaking extensions or alterations to an existing home can be an exciting time, however the building process can have pitfalls for those who are uninformed. Under the Building Act 1993 the current owner of the land is responsible for any building works that are occurring or have occurred on their land.

Some common topics are linked below. 

Building Contracts Bushfire Prone Areas Owner Builders Replacing roofing on houses  Domestic Building Insurance Energy Efficiency performance requirements for residential buildings  Occupancy Permits Protection of adjoining property Termites   Time limits and Lapsed Building Permits  Building Legislation  Permits  Protection of Adjoining Property  Building in Victoria after Bushfires

See the Building and Renovating Checklist with helpful information for owners. 

Do I need a building permit?

Yes - Building work related to construction of, alterations or extensions to a home require a building permit.

Some exemptions apply for minor work, maintenance and repairs. If in doubt see the “Do I Need a Building Permit” information sheet

or you can check with City Building on (03) 5559 4800 or at

Does my builder need to be registered?

In Victoria, builders must be registered in order to be able to perform domestic building work with a value exceeding $10,000 (including labour and materials). This includes carrying out re-blocking, re-stumping or demolition work.


Do you have concerns about demolition work that is occuring?

If you have concerns for demolition work that is occurring this should be referred toWorkSafe at 76 Henna St, Warrnambool or by telephone on (03) 5564 3200.

Is it heritage listed?

To check if a building has heritage significance contact the Town Planning department on (03) 5559 4800.

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.

Unsafe buildings

Any new construction and over time old structures can become unsafe if not managed or maintained correctly or without first being issued with the appropriate approvals. If you feel a construction is unsafe it may be a matter to be investigated by City Building. Please submit any complaints or information in writing to or addressed to the Municipal Building Surveyor, PO Box 198 WARRNAMBOOL VIC 3280.

If you have concerns regarding Asbestos or unsafe demolition worksites please contact Work Safe and the Environment Protection Authority.


Most domestic sheds and garages require a building permit. Exemptions apply to a shed/garage when the floor area does not exceed 10m2.

If a building permit is required and the building work, including supply and installation, costs more than $10,000, unless you are an owner-builder, you must use a registered building practitioner to carry out the work.

A major domestic building contract must be entered into with the registered building practitioner for works over $10,000.

If the cost of the work (including labour and materials) exceeds $16,000 the builder or owner-builder is required to provide domestic building insurance and a certificate of consent from the VBA to undertake the work as an owner-builder. .

The installation of roof sheeting, flashings, guttering, downpipes or other regulated plumbing work on a shed, regardless of scale, must be carried out by a licensed or registered plumbing practitioner. If the value of the plumbing work exceeds $750 a compliance certificate is required from a licensed plumbing practitioner.

If an owner-built shed or garage is sold within six and half years of the domestic building work being completed (i.e. from the date of your occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection), a defects report by a prescribed building practitioner and additional insurance may be required.

How close can I build my shed to a boundary?

In residential areas, the setback from a side or rear boundary for any new shed/garage will generally be determined by the height. See Building Regulations 2018 and scroll down to "Regulation 79 – side and rear setbacks".

Verandahs, Decks and Balconies

Building work related to construction of, alterations or extensions to a home (including verandahs, decks and balconies) require a building permit. Some exemptions apply for minor work, maintenance and repairs.

Verandahs, decks and balconies with a fall distance of one metre or more require a balustrade.

VBA - Balconies, Decks and balcony balustrades


When is a building permit required for a fence?

Building work relating to the construction, installation or extension to a fence requires a building permit unless exempt.

Exemptions apply to a fence (other than a fence forming part of a safety barrier for a swimming pool or spa or fence forming part of an outdoor play space associated with a children’s service) that is:

  • Not exceeding 2m in height
  • Not exceeding 1.5m in height when within 3m of a street (which is not a lane, footway, alley or right of way) alignment and which is not constructed of masonry, concrete or similar material
  • Not exceeding 1.2m in height when within 3m of a street (which is not a lane, footway, alley or right of way) alignment and which is constructed of masonry, concrete or similar material; and
  • Not exceeding 1m in height above the footpath when within 9m of a point of intersection of street alignments
  • A chain wire fence surrounding a tennis court

When applying for a building permit for a fence, maximum heights apply and can be discussed with your relevant building surveyor.

What is considered a fence?

A fence by definition under the Building Regulations 2018 includes 'a screen or a structure similar to a screen'. This means that all the regulations applicable to a fence also apply to privacy screens, a trellis and trellis extensions to existing fences.

Adjoining Boundary Fencing Matters

Property owners are responsible for the construction and maintenance of any adjoining boundary fencing between private properties. Fencing is a civil matter regulated by the Department of Justice and Regulation under the Fences Act 1968 (and amendments).

If you require your neighbour's contact information for the purpose of erecting a boundary fence, you can contact Customer Service Staff at City Assist on (03) 5559 4800.

Essential Safety Measures

Upon completion of the construction of a building (other than a house or outbuilding), the owner is responsible for the maintenance of the essential safety measures for the protection of occupants and patrons.

VBA - How to ensure your essential safety measures are compliant

The term ‘essential safety measure’ is defined in Part 15 of the Building Regulations 2018 and includes items listed in Schedule 8 of the Regulations, such as:

  • Air handling systems (used for smoke hazard management)
  • Exit doors
  • Early warning systems
  • Emergency lifts
  • Emergency lighting
  • Emergency power supply
  • Emergency warning systems
  • Exit signs
  • Fire control centres
  • Fire curtains and doors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Fire detection and alarm systems
  • Fire hydrants
  • Fire isolated stairs
  • Fire rated materials
  • Fire windows
  • Fire isolated passageways and ramps
  • Mechanical ventilation (incorporate a cooling tower or hot or warm water system)
  • Paths of travel to exits
  • Smoke alarms
  • Smoke control systems
  • Sprinkler systems

Non-compliance may result in an infringement notice being issued by Council or the Fire Authority with a fine of over $290 and furthermore, non-compliance may result in prosecution in which a fine may be imposed of over $1,400 under Building Regulations 2018, or of over $17,000 for an individual or over $88,000 for companies for each breach. More importantly, non-compliance could place not only building occupants at risk but also those of passers-by and the occupants of adjoining buildings.


Warrnambool City council was declared to be an area that is subject to termite infestation as of May 22, 2005 and therefore any new buildings must be properly protected against attack by termites. 

There are specific standards that the methods of protection must meet. This is something to discuss with your draftsperson, architect, builder and relevant building surveyor. 

VBA - Termites

Smoke Alarms

The Building Regulations 2018 state that smoke alarms must meet the Australian Standard AS 3786-1993. Complying models can be found at most electrical appliance outlets or hardware stores. 

At least one smoke alarm must be positioned on or near the ceiling of every storey of a dwelling or sole occupancy unit.

VBA - Smoke Alarms