What is a Building Permit?

A Building Permit is an authority for building work to be executed. A Building Permit application assesses plans, specifications & other documents/information against the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations & BCA. An application for Building Permit needs to contain ‘… sufficient information …’ & of sufficient quality to show that the building work will comply with the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations & Building Code of Australia (BCA).

When is a Building Permit required?

A Building Permit is required for a very broad range of building work (& also possibly for changes of use); given the complexity of the legislation & some limited building work being ‘exempt building work’ it is difficult to be specific in this advice as to what does or does not require a Building Permit; contact JBSS for further information.

Who can issue a Building Permit?

Only a qualified & experienced Victorian Building Authority (VBA) registered Building Surveyors can issue a Building Permit. Graham Neale is a long time registered Building Surveyor; being Building Surveyor-Unlimited (BS-U); note many Building Surveyors being ‘Building Surveyor-Limited’ are restricted to issue Building Permits for a limited range of building work.

What is required to be lodged for a Building Permit?

This depends on the nature & scope of the proposed building work; JBSS is happy to discuss specific requirements for your project & any threshold or particular issues that may need to be addressed at the design stage; JBSS can forward a checklist to assist.

What is the difference between a Planning Permit & Building Permit?

A Planning Permit may be required for a wide range of building work/uses & is issued by the relevant Council for a range of works, uses and developments as determined by the relevant Planning Scheme; whereas a Building Permit assesses building work against the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations & NCC/Building Code of Australia and is issued by a qualified registered Building Surveyor.

What is the role of the (Relevant) Building Surveyor?

The role of JBSS/Graham Neale as Relevant Building Surveyor; is primarily one of a ‘statutory authority’; to see the proposed building work satisfies minimum requirements of the relevant legislation i.e Building Act 1993, Building Regulations & NCC/Building Code of Australia. This will include the assessment of the Building Permit Application documents, issue Building Permit, carrying out of inspections (known as ‘mandatory notification stages’) & issue of Certificate of Final Inspection or Occupancy Permit; functions may also include the serving of Oral or Written ‘Directions to Fix’, serving Building Notices/Building Orders & other to see compliance with the Building Permit & relevant legislation.

Who can appoint the Relevant Building Surveyor?

The Owner (or their authorised agent) can offer an appointment for Graham Neale to act as Relevant Building Surveyor; ‘A (domestic) builder … must not appoint a private building surveyor …’; refer Section 78 Building Act 1993. Even so this does not restrict a domestic builder from recommending Graham Neale to act as Relevant Building Surveyor; nor does it restrict a domestic builder lodging a Building Permit Application with Graham Neale/JBSS at the same time or later.

How much does a Building Permit cost?

The cost/fees for a Building Permit vary dependant on a range of matters including the $ value & the ‘complexity’ of the building work. JBSS is happy to discuss fees & specific requirements for your project & any threshold or particular issues that may need to be addressed at design stage; JBSS can forward a checklist to assist; contact JBSS for further information.

How long is a Building Permit valid for?

A Building Permit will state the required commencement & completion dates; typically for ‘domestic building work’ the building work must commence within 12 month & be completed within 24 months of the date of Building Permit issue otherwise the Building Permit ‘lapses’ & no building work can be continued/executed; the Building Permit commencement or completion dates may be extended (subject to the discretion of the Relevant Building Surveyor); but you will need apply for any extension before the Building Permit lapses.

Do I need a Building Permit for the removal, re-erection or demolition of building work?

In many cases yes a Building Permit is required; JBSS has an information sheet to assist; contact JBSS for further information.

What is a Registered Building Practitioner?

Registered Building Practitioner (registered with the VBA) include Building Surveyors, Engineers, Builders-Domestic & Commercial, Draftspersons & others; Architects registered with the ARVB are deemed to be a Registered Building Practitioner. Plumbers can be licensed/registered with the VBA as a Registered Plumbing Practitioner with Energy Safe Victoria (ESV) for licensing & registering of electricians & electrical tradespersons.

What is an ‘Owner Builder’?

An Owner Builder (of domestic building work) is seen as the Builder & has a broad range of (legislated) obligations & responsibilities to manage, arrange, direct & supervise the domestic building work.

When is a Certificate of Consent (COC) required?

If you are to be an ‘Owner Builder’ & the $ value of the proposed domestic building work is > $16,000 a COC from the VBA is required as part of the requirements of a Building Permit Application/Building Permit.

What if & when I engage a Registered Building Practitioner-Domestic Builder ‘(Unlimited’ or ‘Manager’ or ‘Limited’) to execute building work?

Builder or builders/trades-people/contractors; however expressed; need be registered with the VBA in the appropriate category/class if the $ value of the (their) building work is >$10,000 i.e being ‘major’ domestic building work (‘major’ domestic building work is where the $ value of their contract is >$10,000). Furthermore ‘warranty insurance’ is required if the contract is >$16,000; this applies even after Certificate of Consent (COC) issued by VBA or after Building Permit issued. For further information contact JBSS.

How many ‘Domestic Builder-Limited’ classes are there?

If an Owner or Owner Builder & engaging a builder or builders/trades-people/contractors; however expressed; & notwithstanding information/details on any Building Permit Application Form or Building Permit or Certificate of Consent (COC); the VBA has advised that Domestic Builder (Limited) persons registered in the class of Domestic Builder (Limited) are responsible for carrying out or managing or arranging the carrying out of; one or more (but not all) components of domestic building work as specified in their Certificate of Registration. A Domestic Builder (Limited) may be limited to carrying out or managing or arranging the carrying out of the following components of work;

1. Bathroom, Kitchen or Laundry Renovation
2. Bricklaying and Blocklaying
3. Cabinet Making, Joinery and Stair Construction
4. Carpentry
5. Construction of Gates and Fences
6. Construction of Non-habitable Building Structures
7. Construction of Private Bushfire Shelters
8. Construction of Retaining Walls
9. Construction of Shade Structures
10. Construction of Swimming Pools and Spas
11. Door and Window Replacement/Installation
12. Earthworks and Excavation work
13. External Wall Cladding
14. Footings and Slabs
15. Framing

16. Re-stumping and Re-blocking
17. Roof Tiling
18. Site Works involved in relocating a Dwelling
19. Structural Landscaping
20. Waterproofing
21. Attaching External Fixtures
22. Erection of Poles, Masts and Antennas
23. Floor Finishing and Covering
24. Glazing
25. Insulation
26. Painting and Decorating
27. Sheet plastering
28. Solid Plastering and Rendering
29. Tiling (Floor and Wall)

Please contact the VBA or JBSS for further information.

What if I was an ‘Owner Builder’ & I am selling?

If you sell within 6.5 years of ‘completion’ it is likely you will require a report pursuant to Section 137B Building Act 1993 regardless of the $ value & furthermore ‘warranty insurance’ may be required if you sell within 6 years of ‘completion’ & the $ value of the ‘domestic building work’ was >$16,000; JBSS has a comprehensive information sheet that may assist.

Bushfire Attack Level (BAL); what is it?

If your Dwelling is in a mapped/designated ‘bushfire prone area’ new building work will need to be constructed as a minimum to what is known as Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) 12.5. JBSS has a range of information sheets on BAL assessment & BAL construction matters to assist.

House Energy Rating/6*; what is it?

A new Dwelling is required to achieve a minimum of 6* (or equivalent); this assesses assumed ‘heating & cooling loads’ measured in MJ/m2; having regard to the Dwelling location, construction of floors, walls, ceilings/roof including insulation, windows & glazing, orientation, shading/eaves & other.

Swimming pool (spa) & barriers; do they require a Building Permit?

A swimming pool (spa) may include above ground pools, inflatable pools, indoor pools, children paddling & wading pools, jacuzzis, hot tubs & swim spas including portable spas. The BCA defines a swimming pool as ’… any excavation or structure containing water and principally used, or designed, manufactured or adapted to be principally used for swimming, wading, paddling, or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa’. A swimming pool (spa) is typically not a ‘spa’ in a bathroom/ensuite used for ‘hygiene purposes’ & typically with nil filtering/disinfecting/reheating abilities & where water drained after each use by the user. A ‘child restrictive safety barrier’ is required if water depth is >300mm & associated with a Dwelling; contact JBSS for further information; JBSS has a comprehensive information sheet to assist.

What if my property is in ‘land liable to flooding’?

Land can be ‘land liable to flooding’ or ‘designated land or works’ under the Building Regulations or under the Planning Scheme in a Special Building Overlay (SBO), Floodway Overlay (FO) or Land subject to Inundation Overlay (LSIO); dependent upon a range of matters (with some limited work not requiring ‘approval’) there may be a requirement to seek & obtain what is known as a Report & Consent (R&C) from Council under the Building Regulations 2006 or a Planning Permit; typically this will see a floor level of 300mm above the flood level; other/additional requirements may also apply; contact JBSS for further information.

When & what sort of inspections are required?

The minimum required statutory inspections are defined as ‘mandatory notification stages’; they will be detailed on the Building Permit & for typical domestic building work are
a) ‘Prior to placing any/a footing’ on a foundation i.e. all excavation/s, preslab, pre ‘waffle slab’ polythene-pre crushed rock/base, strip footing/s, foundation/s, stump-holes, pads, piers, retaining walls piers
b) ‘Prior to pouring any/an in-situ reinforced concrete member’ i.e. steel reinforcement, strip footing, ‘poly & steel’, slab steel, in-situ columns/walls
c) ‘Completion of any/all framework’ i.e. timber framing &/or steel framing including open &/or waterproof decks, floors, walls & roofs &/or columns/beams including prior to any floor frame decking/flooring/sheeting, roofing, sisalation/cladding or covering/lining &
d) ‘Final, upon completion of all/the building work’;
‘Mandatory notification stages’ may be reached & be called more than once in each project. An Occupancy Permit is by definition not a ‘mandatory notification stage’ inspection but none the less an Occupancy Permit/Certificate of Final Inspection is required prior to occupation or use of the building or part of the building.

What is ‘Protection Work’?

‘Protection work’ is defined in the Building Act 1993, as ‘temporary or permanent work of underpinning, including the provision of vertical support, lateral support, protection against variation in earth pressures, provision of ground anchors and other support of adjoining property or shoring up of adjoining property, or overhead protection of ‘adjoining property’; or other work designed to maintain the stability of adjoining property or to protect adjoining property from damage from building work or any work or use of equipment necessary for the provision, maintenance and removal of work referred to above whether or not the work or equipment is carried out or used on, over, under or in the air space above the land on which the building work is or is to be carried out or the adjoining property’.

A common situation may be site cuts/footing excavations &/or retaining wall/s &/or other building work ‘near’ property boundaries &/or adjacent building work. Protection work may also be required due to or involve; demolition/removal, construction/walls near boundaries, pile driving, ‘dewatering’ of a site, cranes over adjoining site & other. The process & purpose of protection work is fundamentally different to building work such as construction/engineering of retaining walls. Protection Work relates to protection against damage to property & against personal injury.

Protection Work & the serving of a Protection Work Notice & a range of related matters is set within a complex but tight statutory process; JBSS/Graham Neale as well as dealing with Protection Work as Relevant Building Surveyor has significant & current experience in this arena to assist an Owner or an Adjoining Owner where Protection Work has ‘raised its head’ or a Protection Work Notice has been served; JBSS has a comprehensive information sheet to assist; contact JBSS for further information.

What if I have done (‘illegal’) building work without a Building Permit or a Building Notice has been issued by Council?

A Building Permit cannot be issued for the building work already executed without a required Building Permit; notwithstanding a way to potentially ‘legitimise’ such building work maybe via a Council issued Building Notice/Building Order. The process with representations to Council to seek to resolve the matter can be complex & long winded; notwithstanding JBSS/Graham Neale has significant & current experience in this arena to assist an Owner with the best outcome possible; contact JBSS for further information.

General Information

The above is intended to provide general information in summary form. The content does not constitute specific advice & should not be relied upon in all instances. Some of the information may be of a generic nature; specific professional advice should be sought with respect to all matters.

Call us to see if we can help you.