Building Permits

A Building Permit is a document that certifies that the Relevant Building Surveyor has approved the relevant plans and documentation before your project begins.

When is a building permit required?

The Building Act 1993 (the Act) and Building Regulations 2006 (the Regulations) legislate that most building work is subject to the issuing of a building permit.
This includes most alterations, demolitions and removals. A building permit will specify when an occupancy permit is required or when a certificate of final inspection is necessary on completion of the building work.
The Building Regulations recognise that some building work is of a minor nature and the protection and advantages that a building permit provides may not be necessary. In certain cases, the regulations exempt owners from obtaining building permits for certain works.

Building Permit

Garden Sheds

Not exceeding 10m2, and less than 3.0h, not constructed of masonry and located no further forward than the front wall of the dwelling) No
Erection of a free standing shed less than 10m² in area and built over an easement. No


Exceeding 10m2 Yes
Constructed over an easement Yes


Construction of a verandah attached to any building Yes

Building permits signify that a building surveyor has approved the documentation relating to proposed building work prior to commencement. They are a system of control on the construction of building work. The permit will specify when an occupancy permit is required or when a certificate of final inspection is necessary on completion of the work

How do I apply for a building permit?

An application for a building permit may be made to a municipal or private building surveyor.

Some municipal building surveyors issue permits outside their municipal district, whereas a private building surveyor can issue a permit in any municipality.

Once you have lodged your application with a building surveyor, they will check for compliance with the Regulations and can issue a permit with or without conditions. In some instances, they may refuse to issue a permit. If a permit is refused, you can either change the design to comply with the Regulations or appeal to the Building Appeals Board.

The permit issued may be the permit for the whole of the proposed building work or for a stage of the proposed building work. The building surveyor cannot issue the building permit until any required consent of a reporting authority is received. The consent could be in relation to such matters as building over an easement or siting of a carport. It is also a requirement that a building permit cannot be issued until a relevant planning permit (if required) is obtained. The building surveyor who issues the permit must follow the project through to the end, carrying out building inspections and issue an occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection on completion of your building work.

The building surveyor must state on the building permit which mandatory inspections will be required. Nothing prevents the building surveyor from varying the above inspections or carrying out additional inspections.

If you intend to carry out work close to a neighbour's property the building surveyor can, in some cases, require you to perform work to protect your neighbour's property and obtain appropriate insurance cover for the building work prior to beginning the work.

Information To Be Lodged For Building Permits

Supporting Documentation

Application form for Building Permit to be completed and signed showing all building practitioners and relevant registration numbers, if applicable.

  • Copy of Title and Titles Office approved Plan of Subdivision.
  • For any enquiries re copy of title, contact
    Land Titles Office, 570 Bourke Street, Melbourne.
    Phone: 9603 5555 –or website:
  • Covenant details and developers consent where appropriate.
  • Evidence of ownership as indicated on Title, Contract of Sale or Solicitors letter.
  • Where the project cost exceeds $12,000 and the works are to be carried out as an owner builder a certificate of consent from the Building Practitioners Board is required (For further information you can contact the Building Practitioners Board on 9285 6400)
  • Copy of town planning permit and endorsed plans where applicable.
  • Three copies of complete sets of plans drawn to scale, specifications and structural engineering design/computations, when applicable.
  • If the proposed works are to be located over an easement, evidence of consent from relevant water supply authority and relevant Council Department.
  • Fees to be paid with application;
    • A State Government Levy of $1.28 per thousand dollars of the value is applicable for works in excess of $10,000.00.
    • A HIH Building levy of 32 cents per thousand dollars of the value is applicable for works in excess of $10,000.
  • If proposed structure is to be attached to the existing dwelling provide a floor plan showing the position of any proposed or existing smoke alarms in the dwelling.

Plans & Specifications

Plans must include :

  • Siting of proposed building works.
    • A site plan to an approved scale of not less than 1:500, showing the location of all existing buildings on the allotment, together with any dimensions and details that are necessary to show compliance.
    • A copy of drawings floor plan & elevations.
  • Construction details.
    • A copy of specifications describing materials and methods to be used in the construction.
    • A copy of any computations or reports necessary to demonstrate that the building would, if constructed in accordance with the computations and reports, comply with the building regulations.
  • Method of drainage.
  • Location of neighbours habitable room windows, and overlooking diagrams.
  • Overshadowing diagrams.
  • Car parking facilities.
  • Permeability details.

The above document list is a basic guide only and in some cases additional information may be required.

Standard Of Plans For Building Permit Applications

The process of applying for a building permit requires (apart from other information) the submission of clear and precise working drawings for the proposal.

The working drawings consisting of various views and details must be complete and neatly set out with notes and descriptions that are clearly legible. Any person should be able to read and completely build the proposal from those plans without question.

Owners with inadequate building knowledge or drawing skills and thinking of preparing their own plans may find it a frustrating experience if such plans are rejected, or require alteration and additional information. It is also a frustrating and time wasting experience for a building surveyor to check those plans that are below standard.

Council advise that working drawings and documentation necessary for a building permit, should be prepared by a registered building practitioner in the category of draftperson. Drawings must include a site plan to a scale of not less than 1:500 showing:

  • the lengths and compass bearings of all allotment boundaries to match the approved
  • plan of subdivision or sketch as shown on the Land Title,
  • all existing and proposed conditions on site, a north arrow, easements and the
  • distance to the nearest intersecting street,
  • the position and dimensions of the proposed building/s and its relationship to the boundaries and to any existing building on the allotment and to any part of a building on an adjoining allotment where necessary to show compliance with the regulations,
  • a statement of the use or intended use of all buildings,
  • levels of site and floors, levels of street drainage channel and stormwater drain,
  • layout of drains to the point of discharge and details to show compliance with the regulations.

Generally working drawings will comprise:

  • the plan of the proposal at each floor level (including existing conditions),
  • elevations, sections, dimensions,
  • the sizes and locations of structural members to a scale of not less than 1:100,
  • together with any details that are necessary to show compliance to a scale of not less than 1:20.

Specification documents, which support the drawings, should also be prepared describing materials and methods to be used in the construction.

Council reserves the right to refuse acceptance of drawings and specifications in connection with a building permit application, which do not meet the above criteria.


Inspections are an integral part of the permit process. The building surveyor will inspect your property:

  • Prior to the placement of footings
  • Other times deemed necessary by your building surveyor, and
  • When your building project is complete and stormwater is connected to the legal point of discharge.

Your builder or contractor will ring the building surveyor to arrange these inspections. It is vital that you ensure that these inspections occur. If they have not taken place, you may not be authorised to occupy your building once the work is completed. Sometimes your building surveyor will issue instructions to your builder as a result of one of these inspections. Any direction from your building surveyor will be put in writing and your builder must follow that advice. Sometimes a bank will require evidence from a building surveyor about building progress in order to release further payments, in which case you should request a written report following each inspection. If you are an owner-builder, you will need to contact the building surveyor and organise these inspections yourself.

Certificate of Final Inspection

 The building permit will state whether you require either an Occupancy Permit or a Certificate of Final Inspection.  A Certificate of Final Inspection is issued for extensions or alterations to existing homes, which do not require an occupancy permit. In general, Class 10a buildings (includes Garages, Farm Sheds, Carports & Verandahs) only require a Certificate of Final Inspection. 

Did you know that your building permit has time limits?

Building work relating to houses and outbuildings must commence within 12 months and be completed within 24 months of the date of issue of the building permit.

  • Building work relating to swimming pools and associated barriers or fences must commence within 12 months of the date of the issue of the building permit and be completed within 6 months of commencement of the work.
  • Building work relating to the re-erection of houses and out buildings must commence within six months and be completed within 12 months of the date of the issue of the building permit.
  • All other building work, must commence within 12 months and be completed within 36 months of the date of issue of the building permit. An exception is the re-erection of a building which must be completed within 12 months of the date of the issue of the building permit.

Note: A building permit period may be extended, if it is warranted, by application to the building surveyor before the permit lapses.

Lapsed Permits

Under ordinary circumstances, the building work will have commenced and been completed before the expiry of these prescribed time periods. If for some reason, circumstances prevent the commencement or completion of the building work by the nominated date, you must do one of the following:

  1. Before the relevant date passes, seek an extension of the time in which the building work must be commenced and/or completed from the relevant municipal or private building surveyor who issued the permit. The relevant building surveyor may grant an extension if the extent of the building work warrants it. If the building surveyor refuse to grant an extension of time for the building permit, you may appeal the decision to refuse the extension of time to the Building Appeals Board; or
  2. Apply for a determination from the Building Appeals Board to modify regulation 315(4) of the Regulations to allow the RBS to extend the time limits of the building permit.

What happens if my buildings permit lapses?

If a building permit lapses but building work continues, that work then becomes illegal and the relevant building surveyor should issue a stop works order.

The building work may have been required to be inspected at one of the mandatory inspection stages and where works have continued, it is difficult to determine the building work complies after it has been completed.

If an owner does not comply with the stop work order, then the relevant building surveyor will refer the matter to the VBA for further action.

The building surveyor who originally issues the building permit may refuse to approve the work or may require a part of the building to be exposed to be satisfied that the work is appropriate before issuing an occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection, whichever is required for that work.

In the instance that the building permit has lapsed, all that is required by the relevant building surveyor is certificates (i.e. plumbing), then a new building permit may not be required. The relevant building surveyor may issue the occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection once such certificates have been submitted satisfactorily.

If a building permit lapses and building work is not complete, a new building permit will be required to enable completion of the unfinished building work.
This requires a new application for a building permit.

The relevant municipal or private building surveyor will require plans that show the work to be completed and payment of fees and levies relative to that work will need to be paid. The application must be made to the same building surveyor who issued the original building permit unless an approved termination of his or her appointment has been obtained from the VBA.

Note: Additional fees may be incurred in relation to lapsed building permits.  This is a matter to be discussed between the owner and the building surveyor.

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