Obtaining a Building Permit

Obtaining a building permit might seem like a straight forward process.

Generally when consumers involved with a new home or extension the plan and permit details are often undertaken or organised by others. However when undertaking small extensions such as a verandah or decking or remove a wall or install a Carport then all of a sudden managing and applying for a building permit becomes a reality and is required.

The requirements of issuing a building dictate the need for plans and other documentation be complete. This includes items such as any other approval such as a design panel approval, easement, Bush Fire assessment  or council approval have already been obtained. Items such as engineering, soil test’s etc to support plans must also be in place. Not only can these items be costly, but they take time and experience to ensure they fully reflect and provide permission (where applicable) for works that are proposed.

Why is it so?

The government has a general mandate and responsibility to ensure that building codes, planning, neighbourhood impacts and general items such as health and safety have been considered and fully reflected in plans. Essentially it about keeping things orderly, safe ad predicatable amongst many other issues. Without these checks and balances almost anything can happen. Given the high level of activity by councils related to illegal building activity without permits then clearly it does happen. Not having a permit at this stage can be a very expensive item to review, manage and achieve compliance to a completed building. Not always to owners advantage as not always can building or structure remain as built. For example it is our experience that it is not a given that permission will be provided for an existing building.

Good Things about obtains a building permits -when someone else building then there’s a process to review and ensure any impact to your property is considered.

Bad Things – when your undertaking your development all things are to be considered and factored into your plans and approvals prior to seeking a building permit. Not always can you build what you want where and how you may want to do it.

Who can apply for a Building Permit – certainly the owner builder (or their agent) or builder.

The Project Centre – Narre Warren (as agent for builder or owner) does offer a service for arranging in applying for a building permit when incorporated as part of our drafting brief.

The review of all matters known and applicable is taken out and considered. Often this does as part of design phase and conveyed to clients, if known, as part of plan process. We however even with our 20 year experience we still can have from time to time difficulties establishing all and every local requirements, such as council by-laws etc., or site restrictions that may be applicable. Hence we do understand when clients approach us because they simply can’t manage the process from scratch.

So applying for obtaining a building permit can be quite an event.

Costs of Obtaining a Building Permit

The cost of obtaining a Building Permit can vary as to extent and cost of project. Building Surveyors are generally independent and therefore their fees for permit and site inspections can vary. HINT: do what we do general an estimate prior to lodging and applying for a permit.


When proposing to undertake building works consulting your local council, a building surveyor, registered builder or designer for example are step one in the process. Omitting this stage may provide delay, costs and frustration that might have be avoided.

Links – Building commission – certainly review this web site to understand what requirements may be required. Click here

Pool and Spa Permit

Thinking of purchasing a new pool or external spa then days have been long gone where we as home owners decide whats safe and whats not.

Within Victoria there is a requirement, when installing a new pool or spa, to get a building permit for the construction of the pool or barrier.

Things to think about when proposing a new pool

In the excitement of getting a new pool or spa not always do we focus on the fencing and gates that will be required to comply to building codes. The style, cost and location of fencing and gate will ultimately be critical to the overall outcome of your pool area.

Having a in-ground pool installed:

It is probable that if getting an in ground pool installed Permit requirements may be undertaken by your pool company. Certainly check to ensure it is included and that temporary fencing is allowed for the period between filling the pool and final pool fencing being installed.

Above ground or Spas

Rules remain the same for these projects so although you may or may not need a permit for the actual spa the spa enclosure will require a permit and inspections to ensure it’s installed to building code requirements.

Remember you cannot fill your pool or spa unless you have installed a temporary fence. Note: Check with your local council as to what requirements are applicable for temporary fence options and maximum length of time you can maintain this method of barrier.

Permanent fencing to building code requirements and had relevant permit inspections.

The Building Commission advises ” New swimming pools in Victoria now require four-sided pool fencing as the Building Code of Australia 2010 came into effect on 1 May 2010″. With the new code came a new set of construction requirements and options to consider dependant upon the differing conditions your site offers.

The Project Centre does prepare plans for pool enclosures and arrange building permits for pool fencing. We currently do not provide plans for actual pool construction.

So what is a pool fence or safety barrier?

The Building Commission describes a Safety barrier” refers to a fence, wall, gate or screen, and includes gates, windows, locks, latches, hinges and self-closing devices attached to them.  Safety barriers are required for in-ground swimming pools, jacuzzis, indoor swimming pools, above-ground swimming pools and spas. This includes inflatable and portable units that are capable of holding water greater than 30cm (300mm) in depth.

The responsibility of swimming pool and spa owners to maintain and use safety barriers can help save lives. Remember when children are near water, adult supervision is essential.”

For more information read  What you need to know about Swimming Pool and Spa Safety Barriers (1.02MB)

The following list is to be considered when considering your pool or spa enclosure.

  • Have a safety barrier for all swimming pools and spas with a depth greater than 30cm (300mm).
  • Obtain a building permit for the construction of the pool and barrier.
  • Complete the barrier within six months of building work commencing on the swimming pool or spa.
  • Engage a registered building practitioner to carry out the work if the value of the work exceeds $5,000 (including labour and materials).
  • Maintain the barrier and any self-closing and self-latching gates in good working order.  (All gates are to have a self-closing, self-latching device – regardless of when the pool was built).
  • Never prop open any gate providing access to the swimming pool or spa.
  • Non-compliance with the Regulations risks lives, and pool owners could incur a fine of over $5,000.
  • Access from dwellings is not permitted directly into the pool area via external doors.
  • Indoor swimming pools and spas must have self-closing, self-latching doors that swing away from the pool area.

Refer to Building Commission Pools and spas for further and more detailed information

Almost Anything Built Requires a Building Permit


“Do I need a Building Permit”

This type question is a common question coming from emails and telephone calls almost everyday.

Clients are provided on a daily basis misinformation by friends, builders and councils concerning the need to get a building permit and frustratingly from councils what may be required to achieve that goal.

A recent article in the BDAV news on this subject provided some great pointers.

Why get a Building Permit?

“The issuing of a building permit ensures that the building work is built in compliance with the Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2006″ said Deputy Building Commissioner Neil Savery. ” In doing so, the building permit is designed to protect your building and more importantly, those who occupy it.”

Mr. Savery’s main points relating to “do your research before commencing building or renovation works”. He said ” contact your local council building surveyor or engage a private building surveyor for advice” he said.

Whilst good advice, many owners complain that their council particularly, remain elusive to discuss a “rate payers” enquiry.  Requiring advanced plans or delegating receptionists to respond to enquiry. This process creates significant confusion and misinformation and in my experience frustration where client hear only “the builders” advice – “you don’t need a permit and I can start straight away for a cash deal”.

This approach often spells lasting consequences particularly when you go to sell or if there’s is a compliant to council or council becomes aware of a building or renovation without appropriate permits..

The facts are that outcomes above are so common for many small projects, that I would personally be surprised if more than 50% of projects that require a building permit actually receive a permit. Simply put many owners play the odds.

To obtain a Building Permit

  • Discuss with your council Building Surveyor what your proposing to do. Establish some can and cannot’s for your project.
  • Engage a Drafting company to provide design and possibly building advice and services
  • Apply for any permissions such as town planning that maybe be required prior to applying for a building permit
  • Apply for a building permit though your Council or a private building surveyor.
  • Check that the Building Surveyor is registered. Also check their fees for issuing the permit and carrying out the inspections.
  • Pay the appropriate fee and levies, and submit copies of drawings, specifications, and allotment plans and any other documents required by the relevant building surveyor, along with a completed application form.

The above process sounds a daunting prospect for many owners. Often it is straight forward and a reasonably quick process once items prepared.

At the Project Centre we can assist our clients with the full process of gaining a Building Permit when we providing their plans. We are happy to review your project. Why not ring to make an appointment to discuss your project.

Check out our web site detailing our services prior to starting your next building project

For further information contact the Building Commission on 1300 815 127 or go to www.buildingcommission.com.au

Prepared for: The Project Centre – Narre Warren

Address: Factory 1 – 26/28 Abbott Road Hallam

Telephone: 03-9796 6899

Web Site: www.projectcentre.com.au

“Making Projects Come Alive for over 18 years”