Building Permit in Australia

Building Permits in Australia

With the bouyant economy in Australia, and especially Victoria, the opportunity for building works is impossible to pass on. Whether it be for commercial or personal purposes, anything related to building, altering, maintaining or demolishing a structure is both a daunting and exciting task. However since these kinds of projects usually have an impact in the vicinity and on the community, anyone wishing to engage in this project must be well informed on the many must do’s and don’ts.

A Guide to Getting a Your Permit

The following will guide you to the most salient steps of acquiring a building permit:

Planning Permits

Although this article mainly discusses about building permits and how to acquire them, it is vital to note that even before the procurement of a building permit, the builder must first check whether the project is in need of a planning permit. Even though at first glance the two things may look and sound the same, it is essential to understand that these two are wholly different.

Below is a sample application form for a planning permit.

Planning Permit Application Form

Building permits are permits given after satisfying certain requirements and the permit given is related specifically to the construction of the building itself. Planning permits on the other hand are legal documents that give permission for the specific use or development of land which may be required by the local council. If a particular project requires a planning permit, this becomes a requisite for the issuance of the building permit although they both can be applied for simultaneously.

Conversely, some projects may not require a planning permit but still necessitate a building permit. In order to know whether the project you are planning will need a planning permit, you may get in touch with your local council’s Town Planning Office.

Building Permit

The legislative body has passed laws, namely, the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2017, that provide for the requirement of a building permit before commencing any building project. It is done so as to protect the builder in the legal sense and anyone who uses the building in the physical sense. Anyone who violates this provision of law would be committing an offense and a fine of up to $72,180 will be imposed upon an individual violator and much bigger sums upon a violating company (Sec. 16(1), Building Act). It is very important to take into consideration that the permit must be had BEFORE any work is started because subsequently procured building permits do not retroact to cover any work that has already been done prior to the grant of the permit.

Getting Building Permit

Steps When Getting a Building Permit

  • Choose a Building Surveyor – The first step to acquiring a Building Permit will be choosing a Building Surveyor. You have a choice of getting your own private building surveyor or availing of the services of the municipal building surveyor.
  • Fill out a Building Application Form – After you have chosen your building surveyor you must then fill out a Building Application Form. You may even appoint your architect or contractor to apply in your behalf as your agent. You can do this by making a written document authorizing the person of choice to be your agent in the performance of specific tasks.
  • Pay the Fees – Together with application, you will be required to pay  the appropriate fee and submit the specifications and allotment plans together with the drawings in triplicate. The cost of the permit depends largely on the size and nature of the project. Nevertheless, just to give you a general idea, small construction projects usually range from $500-$1000 and dwellings may reach up to $2000. Although, if you still have no idea how to size up your project, there are certain websites that could give you a quotation after you have provided them with the details of your building project.

Energy Efficiency Compliance Requirement

However, it must not be forgotten that one of the essential requirements of law regarding buildings and houses situated in Australia is compliance with Energy Efficiency provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC). The Energy Rating is the index of a building’s thermal performance for structures and residential homes in Australia. In simpler terms, it is a rating on the overall energy efficiency of a house or building. The Rating takes into consideration the heating and cooling requirements. This concept was introduced by the Australian Building Codes Board in the Building Code of Australia last 2003.

Energy Efficient Building

In Victoria and South Australia, the minimum star rating for houses is 6. The 6-star rating necessitates a house to have: a 6-star energy rating for the building fabric, a rainwater tank for toilet flushing or a solar hot water system and water efficient shower heads and tapware. The Nationwide House Energy Rating Scheme helps Australians have more comfortable homes while saving on energy bills through smarter design. Investing on a good design allows home and building owners to reduce the amount of energy needed to keep a home or structure comfortable without spending so much on energy bills. This 6-star energy efficiency rating applies to the home building’s envelope such as roof, walls, windows and floors.

Despite this seemingly highly technical requirement, compliance with the 6-star standard is not very hard. All there is to it is good design which must be ironed out as early as the planning stage. Talking to your building practitioner about this will greatly increase the ease of achieving the standard. Data shows that homes that have complied with the 6-star standard have an average savings of $100 from energy bills every year. With residents who take a conscious effort in wise energy consumption, the savings can be much more.

After filling out the application form and submission of the other aforementioned requisites, the Building Surveyor will then check if the applicant has complied with all provisions of law.

If all the requirements are complied with, the Building Surveyor will then issue the permit which may be with or without conditions. Once a permit is issued, work on your project can be commenced at once.

In the event that an application is rejected, one can either alter the details of the project to comply with the Regulations or appeal the refusal to the Building Appeals Board.

For more information on building permits in Victoria please see here. Information on permits in other states can also be easily found online.