Do I need building approval

Most projects will need a building permit from a building surveyor prior to beginning construction. During this process, your surveyor seeks to understand your project, seeks approval for any regulation exceptions and confirms that it meets the building codes set by Council and State Government.

The building permit ensures that:

  • certain practitioners are registered and carry insurance
  • adequate documentation is prepared to correctly construct the building
  • an independent review of the documentation occurs
  • key stages of the work are independently inspected
  • the building is independently assessed as completed and/or suitable for occupation.

The Building Act 1993 and Building Regulations 2018 legislates that buildings must be subject to the issue of a building permit prior to work commencing. The Act prescribes a penalty in excess of $50,000 for any persons who do work without a permit, and $300,000 to any company.

When do you need a permit

A building permit is generally required for all building works and changes to the use of an existing building. This includes:

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

When is a permit not required

There are many exemptions for building work and buildings. These are detailed in Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations 2018 which describes situations where a building permit is not required.

If you believe a building permit is not required for your works, you should seek advice from Council prior to commencing any works. Works that do not require a building permit may require other approvals from Council, such as town planning, health, community amenity, and development permits. All relevant departments should be contacted prior to commencement of works.

Need help?

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

Email: helpbuilding@portphillip.vic.gov.au
Phone: 03 9209 6253
In person: visit the Enquiries Counter at St Kilda Town Hall between 8.30 am and 5 pm Monday to Friday

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