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Do I need a building permit?

Who can issue building permits?

Building permits can be issued by Council or by a registered private building surveyor.

A private building surveyor is a fully independent person not associated with or controlled by Council.

The building surveyor who issues the building permit (whether private or municipal) is generally responsible for ensuring that the building work complies with the requirements of the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 1994. The building surveyor can engage qualified and registered building inspectors to carry out the building inspections during the course of construction.

A municipal building surveyor or a private building surveyor has power to enforce compliance with the Building Act and Building Regulations.

A person who fails to comply with a building order can be prosecuted in the Magistrates Court. Where a private building surveyor issues a building order but it is not complied with, they are required to refer the matter to the Victorian Building Authority.

Private building surveyors

On 1 July 1994, the state government initiated major changes to the building permit process by allowing registered private building surveyors the authority to issue building permits as an alternative to Council. Until this date Council were the sole authority for the issuing of building permits within their municipal district.

As a result of these changes, builders, draftspersons, architects and developers can now approach either the local council or private building surveyors for the issue of their building permits and to carry out the subsequent building inspections of the works during construction.

This means that when a private building surveyor has issued the building permit, he or she becomes the responsible person for that permit and all the inspection of the works, not the local council.

The legislation requires the private building surveyor to lodge a copy of their building permit and endorsed plans with the council. The council must record details of the permits issued and store the endorsed building permit plans.

If you are the owner of a property or a neighbour, Council can provide you with the name and contact details of the building surveyor who has issued the building permit and the name of any of the other practitioners engaged in the project.

The Victorian Building Authority

The Victorian Building Authority is the peak statutory body in Victoria. It investigates alleged breaches of the Building Act and Building Regulations and the conduct of registered building practitioners (including building surveyors, building inspectors, engineers and builders). It may refer conduct issues to the Building Practitioners Board for a disciplinary inquiry if there is sufficient evidence.

The Building Practitioners Board

The Building Practitioners Board administers the registration system for builders, demolishers, building surveyors, building inspectors, engineers and draftspersons, and monitors the conduct and ability to practice of registered building practitioners. The board can issue fines or suspend or cancel a practitioner's registration.

Local government

Council is responsible for administering and enforcing parts of the Act and the Building Regulations 1994 within its municipal district. Council has the ability to determine, through the adoption of policies, how it will carry out these functions, with regard to competing obligations and limited resources. Policies have the benefit of establishing priority as to how to best serve and protect the public.

The building control intervention filter criteria (BCIFC)

The BCIFC is a City of Bayside policy for dealing with complaints regarding building work where a private building surveyor has been appointed.

The BCIFC allows for a range of actions by Council depending on the nature of the complaint. This may include referring the complainant directly to the private building surveyor, taking direct intervention action or referring the matter to the Building Practitioners Board for inquiry or to the Building Commission for investigation.

Members of the public can also make complaints regarding a building practitioner direct to the Victorian Building Authority or the Building Practitioners Board.