The need for a building permit
Under state legislation, a building permit is required before the commencement of building works. It is an offence under the Building Act 1993 to carry out building works without a permit and failure to have a permit can attract penalties of over $12,000.
The definition of 'building work' includes new buildings, demolition and/or alteration to existing buildings. In most cases the builder or the architect/draftsperson obtains the building permit on behalf of the property owner/s.
Building works that do not require a building permit
For more information about which works require a building permit and which do not, please refer to the VBA Practice note 32 (PN-32-2014-When is a Building Permit Required) and Schedule 8 of the Building Interim Regulations 2017.
In general terms only the following works do not require a building permit;
- Freestanding sheds:
- with a floor area not exceeding 10 square metres, and
- if located within 1m from a side or rear boundary, not more than 2.4m in height, and
- if more than 1m from a side or rear boundary, not more than 3m in height, and
- located no further forward on the allotment than the front wall of the dwelling it is associated with, and
- not constructed of masonry.
- Repairs, renewal or alterations to a building for maintenance purposes only:
- not structural works or underpinning or replacement of footings, and
- not affecting the safety of the public, and
- not a fire safety measure.
- Swimming pools and spas with a depth of less than 300mm.
- Fences within 3m of a street alignment that does not exceed 1.2m in height.
- Fences not exceeding 1m in height when within 9m to a point of intersection of street alignments.
- Chain mesh fences surrounding a tennis court and other fences that are not within 3m to a street alignment not exceeding 2m in height (other than a swimming pool safety fence).
- Mast, pole, antenna or aerial:
- attached to a building, not higher than 3m above the highest point of the building to which it is attached, or
- freestanding, not higher than 8m above ground level.
- Retaining walls less than 1m in height that are not associated with other building work or with protection of adjoining properties.
- Pergolas associated with a residence:
- less than 20 square metres in area, and
- not exceeding 3.6m in height, and
- not located further forward of the dwelling it is associated with.
Note: Certain building work that does not require a building permit, may require a planning permit under the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
Applications and checklists
Building permit application fence checklist (PDF, 479.61KB)
Building permit application checklist (PDF, 410.82KB)
Application for a building permit (PDF, 2.10MB)
Side boundary setback tables (PDF, 59.75KB)
Siting of residential buildings (PDF, 332.54KB)