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Building Permits

The Building Regulations 2018 state that all building work requires a Building Permit, unless the work is specifically exempt under Schedule 3 of the regulations. 

A Building Permit is written approval from a registered Building Surveyor certifying that your plans comply with the Victorian building legislation, regulations and Building Code of Australia.

Victorian Building Authority Links:

Occupancy Permits

Occupancy permits are documents that signify that a building surveyor is satisfied that the completed building work is suitable for occupation.

The Building Act 1993 requires the issue of an occupancy permit prior to occupation of a building where a building permit states that one is required.

A building permit will specify whether you require either an occupancy permit or a certificate of final inspection prior to occupation of a building.

Building work for a new home (including units or apartments), or commercial premises will always require an occupancy permit to be issued. Where an occupancy permit is required, it is an offence to occupy a building until the occupancy permit has been granted.

A certificate of final inspection is issued for extensions or alterations to existing homes. Extensions and alterations do not require an occupancy permit as the existing building should already have had an occupancy permit issued on its completion. Again, the requirement for issue of a certificate of final inspection will be indicated on the building permit.


Owner Builder

An owner-builder is someone who takes responsibility for domestic building work carried out on their own land.

An owner-builder is responsible for obtaining building permits, supervising or undertaking the building work, and ensuring the work meets building regulations and standards.

In Victoria, an owner-builder can only build or renovate one house every five years and must intend to live in the house once completed.

Some of the obligations of an owner-builder last for six and a half years after completion of the building work.

In some instances, an owner-builder's property may become a workplace for the purposes of Occupational Health and Safety legislation and then certain obligations will apply.

If the value of the domestic building work to be undertaken is more than $16,000 you must have a certificate of consent from the VBA to be an owner-builder.

Remember - even if you have signed as an owner-builder on the application form for a building permit:

  • you will need to enter into a major domestic building contract when a registered domestic builder, contractor or tradesperson will do domestic building work costing more than $10,000 (unless a single trade exemption applies); and
  • a builder, contractor or tradesperson must give you domestic building insurance for work costing more than $16,000; and
  • warranties still apply.

Some builders or tradespeople may ask you to sign an application form for a building permit as an owner-builder even though they will be doing all the work. If you do this it may put you at risk. The person may be unregistered or trying to avoid their legal responsibilities. You are not an owner-builder if you intend to engage one builder to do all the building work.

Septic Tank Systems

If your property is not in a declared sewerage area and you are proposing to build a new dwelling you will be required to install an onsite wastewater disposal system to treat household wastewater. Septic tanks have been used in un-sewered areas for many years as a form of primary treatment of sewage.

Under the Environment Protection Act 1970, any person requires a permit from Council to construct, install or alter any part of a septic tank system. Legal penalties apply for work carried out without a permit.

The permit consists of a two stage process:

  • A ‘Permit to Alter/Install’ a septic tank system.  This permit must be issued before a building permit can be issued.
  • A ‘Certificate to Use’ the septic tank system.  This permit must be issued before a building Certificate of Occupancy can be issued.

Please note Council can only approve septic systems that hold a current 'Certificate of Conformance' under the relevant Australian Standard. For a list of these systems refer to the EPA  website. Council can not recommend a particular brand or model.


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