When do you need a Building Permit in Victoria?
By: Jarrod Gutsa, construction and planning lawyer at Lovegrove Smith & Cotton.
If you are considering building, renovating or simply undertaking some work on the abode, one must first consider: “Do I need a building permit for this?” The Building Regulations 2006 (“the Regulations”) identify when a building permit is required for certain works in a round-about-way. By this the author means the Regulations are silent as to when a building permit is required, however the Regulations provide a set of circumstances when a permit is NOT required.
Schedule 8 of the Regulations provides a list of works that don’t require a Building Permit. There are many specific circumstances when a building permit is not required, to deal with all of them is beyond the scope of this article, However the author will canvass the primary exceptions that occur most frequently.
Alterations, repair, renewal or maintenance of a Building (the Home ‘Reno’)
With the new craze of DIY fueled by popular TV programs such as “The Block” it is essential that one knows when a building permit is required.
The regulations provide that a building permit is not required for Alterations or the “Repair, renewal or maintenance of a part of an existing building,” Provided the work does not affect the structural soundness of the building and the work is not:
(i) an increase or decrease in the floor area or height of the building; or
(ii) underpinning or replacement of footings; or
(iii) the removal or alteration of any element of the building that is contributing to the support of any other element of the building”
The work must also be done using materials that are fit for their purpose and the work must not be unsafe to the public, the occupiers of the building and must comply with the essential safety measures under the Regulations.
Furthermore if the work is an alteration it must not protrude past the street alignment.
A simplified list of common works
The above may understandably be confusing to the average individual or anyone not intimately familiar with building rules and regulations in Victoria. Thankfully the Victorian Building Authority (“the VBA”) has provided some guidance on when work will require a building permit.
The VBA has provided a list of common types of building work and identified whether a building permit would be required for the said work.
These works include:
Additions to a dwelling or any other building Yes
Structural alterations to a dwelling or any other building Yes
Removal of or alteration to a load bearing part of a building Yes
Construction of a garage/carport larger than 10m2 Yes
Demolition of freestanding garage/carport not constructed of Yes
masonry, not more than 40m2 in floor area, is not a building on
the Heritage Register and the work will not adversely affect the
safety of the public or occupiers of the building.
Not more than 3.6m high, 20m2 in area and located at the rear No
or side of a building to which it is associated
Construction of a pergola located more than 2.5m forward of
the front wall of a building Yes
Construction of a verandah attached to any building Yes”
The above is a short extract of the list of works that the VBA has provided. Please click here to view the full list on the VBA website.
Furthermore please click here to view Schedule 8 of the Building Regulations if you are unsure whether the work you are considering undertaking requires a building permit.
Section 16(1) of the Building Act makes it an offence to undertake building works without a permit if a building permit is required for the works. The penalty is a fine of up to $72,180 for a natural person and a lot more for a company.
Furthermore one must be mindful that if the work is started without a permit, a building permit can never be granted retrospectively for work that has already been done.
If you are unsure as to whether work may require a building permit you should contact a licensed building surveyor.
The Lovegrove Smith & Cotton E-Library is a free online resource of articles, which puts a wealth of information at your finger tips. The articles in the E- Library have been written by lawyers and a number of them have been published in the Australian, The Age and the Herald Sun. Some of the articles date back to the 1990’s. To access click here.
As a final note of caution this article has merely provided a brief synopsis of when a Building Permit may be required it does not consider whether a planning permit is required nor the requirements of the Heritage Act 1995.