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 3 of the Building Regulations 2018.
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 forms are currently being updated. Please contact Council's Building Department on (03) 9599 4444
Side boundary setback tables (PDF, 59.75KB)
Siting of residential buildings (PDF, 317.55KB)