What is it?

A building permit is approval to construct a new building, carry out alterations or additions to an existing building.

You must have a building permit before you start any building work.

In Port Phillip, building permits can be issued by:

  • Council’s Municipal Building Surveyor
  • a private building surveyor.

The building permit ensures:

  • the works proposed comply with the minimum standards and regulations
  • the works when carried out are inspected at the key stages
  • when the works are completed, the building is suitable for occupation.

Building Act 1993
Building Regulations 2018

What happens if I start work without a permit?

There is a penalty of more than $50,000 for anyone (individuals) who does work without a permit and $300,000 for any company.

Who is it suitable for?

Building permits are often requested by:

  • contractors
  • building and construction companies
  • home or property owners.

When do I need a permit?

In most cases, you need a building permit for new building works or changes to an existing building. This can include:

  • demolition
  • extensions
  • garages, sheds, and carports
  • verandas and pergolas
  • fences
  • retaining walls
  • restumping
  • shop/office fitouts
  • rooming, boarding houses and student accommodation
  • granny flats
  • alterations to any Essential Safety Measures or Fire Safety Measures
  • installation of swimming pools and spas, and the surrounding safety barriers.

If you're unsure whether you need a permit, contact Council’s Building team to check.


There are situations where a building permit is not required. You can read about them in detail via Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations 2018.

If you're unsure whether you need a permit or you think you may qualify for an exemption, check with Council’s Building team.

Although you may be exempt from needing a building permit, you may need other approvals, such as:

  • town planning
  • health
  • development permits.

We can help you get the advice you need before you start any work.

Will I need other permits as well as a building permit?

In some cases, you may need a planning permit as well as a building permit. The Planning and Building Permit page explains the difference, and when you may need one or both.

If you need a planning permit, you must have this before a building permit can be issued.

Your builder may also need to apply for an asset protection permit.


The cost of a building permit application depends on the type of building and the cost of works. The fee covers all the issue of the building permit approval, the mandatory staged inspections and the issue of the Certificate of Final Inspection or Occupancy Permit.

You can contact Council’s Building team for a fee proposal.

Your building permit application may need other approvals and payment of additional fees. These can be:

  • report and consent
  • property information
  • stormwater discharge confirmation
  • other approvals.

Your building surveyor will confirm what you need once your application has been assessed.

A card payment fee may also apply.

Before you apply

Your application has to show that the proposed building work will follow the State Legislation.

We have created a Building Permit Application Kit (link to Building application Kit pdf) to help you with your application. This kit includes:

  • application checklist
  • information about working drawings and other documents to include in your application
  • application form
  • appointment declaration form to allow the City of Port Phillip to inspect the work and issue a permit
  • agent authorisation form, if needed.

When you apply

When you have completed all the steps in the Building Permit Application Kit, you can submit your application form along with all the required documents.

Submit the form to Council’s building department. You can submit:

After you apply

The type, size, and complexity of the building work you’re planning will impact your assessment.

Sometimes we will need additional information before making a decision. We will contact you asking for more details and documents.

Once we have all the information needed, we can assess your application. If your application is approved, we will issue you a building permit.

Support for business

If you’re a business, you can get tailored advice and support from our Business Concierge team.

Our Business Concierge can help you:

  • navigate the permit process if you are opening, growing, or buying a business
  • find the right permits and approvals for your business
  • get information and advice across Council
  • improve the quality of information you provide with your application.

Make and enquiry

Help and support

If you have any questions or need help, please contact the Building team:

Online: My Port Phillip
Phone: 03 9209 6253
In person: visit the Planning and Building Counter at St Kilda Town Hall during opening hours (8.30 am to 5 pm, Monday to Friday)

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