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Building Permits

WHAT ARE BUILDING PERMITS?

Building permits are the documents that signify that a building surveyor has approved documentation for proposed building work prior to its commencement. The Building Act 1993 and Building (Interim)Regulations 2005 legislate that most building work is subject to the issuing of a building permit. This includes most alterations, demolitions and removals.

Building permits are a system of control on construction of building work. They establish, maintain and improve standards for the construction and maintenance of buildings. Permits also enhance the amenity of buildings and protect people using them.

WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN A BUILDING PERMIT AND A PLANNING PERMIT?

Planning permits deal with the development and use in principal covering such areas as aesthetics, type of building layout, landscaping, and must be obtained prior to the issue of any building permit.

DO ALL BUILDING WORKS REQUIRE A BUILDING PERMIT?

A building permit is required for all new construction, all alterations and repairs that are structural, and all alterations that change the use of a building.

WHAT IS AN OCCUPANCY PERMIT?

Occupancy permits are issued at the completion of a building or renovating project when every item that can affect safety is in place and fully operational, such as the water supply; smoke alarms, alarm systems, handrails and balustrades. It does not mean that all the painting is done, that the carpet is laid or that all the fittings are installed. All of that may be weeks or even months away.

An occupancy permit is issued when a building is ‘suitable to occupy’ from a safety point of view. It is not a statement that all the building work is necessarily complete. Nor is it a certificate that states that all building work complies with the relevant legislation.

WHAT WOULD HAPPEN IF I DIDN’T OBTAIN A BUILDING PERMIT?

Undertaking building work without obtaining the necessary building permit is a serious offense and can result in severe penalties. The Building Act prescribes a penalty of $10,000 for any persons who carry out work without a permit.

Compliance of Existing Structures

I RECENTLY PURCHASED THE PROPERTY AND WAS NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WORKS IN THE BUILDING NOTICE, DO I STILL HAVE TO COMPLY?

Yes. Unfortunately, as the new Owner of the property you inherit any non-compliance from previous Owners and are fully responsible for any illegal building works on the property.

At this point, you may wish to seek legal advice as to your rights to seek compensation from the previous Owner. However, time is critical as you are limited to Regulatory time restrictions to respond and act upon a Building Notice or Order. Your first priority should be to begin the process of resolving the Notice or Order.

I OBTAINED ADVICE THAT I DIDN’T NEED A BUILDING PERMIT FOR THE WORKS, WHY HAS A NOTICE BEEN SERVED?

Unless you have received advice about the need for a permit from a Registered Building Practitioner, preferably a Building Surveyor, it is likely you have been misinformed. Building Surveyors are well versed in the requirements of the Building Act and Regulations and can provide knowledgeable advice on your proposed project. Even something as simple as increasing the size of an internal doorway can trigger the need for a building permit as it has structural implications for the building.

As the Owner of the property you are responsible for ensuring that any building work you do has the necessary permits and approvals prior to works commencing. While you may have done the right thing by asking the question in the first place, you are still responsible for your property.

THE NOTICE MENTIONS DEMOLITION, DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO DEMOLISH MY WORK?

Not necessarily. A building Notice must ask you to show cause why building work should not be done, in this case demolish a structure that was built without a building permit. If you can provide documentary evidence that demonstrates compliance with the Building Regulations you can satisfy Council requirements and they may remove the Building Notice or Order.

That’s where we come in. We have developed a comprehensive inspection and report process to provide a certification of the existing structure and assist in allowing Council to cease enforcement action.

I JUST RECEIVED A BUILDING NOTICE FROM COUNCIL, WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?

If you have received a Building Notice, Order or Minor Works Order from Council you will first note that you have 30 days to respond. Don’t leave it until the last minute; if you are proactive you will avoid the stress and high costs involved.

Contact us today so we can understand Council’s concerns and explain what you can expect from the process.

Essential Services

WHAT HAPPENS IF AN OWNER DOESN’T COMPLY?

The municipal building surveyor or chief officer of the relevant fire brigade is responsible for the enforcement of these Regulations.

Non-compliance may result in an infringement notice issued by Council or the Fire Brigade up to $1000 and furthermore, non compliance may result in prosecution in which a fine may be imposed of $10,000 for an individual or $50,000 for companies for each breach of the Regulations.

More importantly, non-compliance could place not only building occupants at risk but also those of passers-by and the occupants of adjoining buildings. Adequate maintenance is the best means of ensuring that fire safety systems will operate reliably if an emergency arises.

HOW DO YOU ACHIEVE COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION?

Measures are either inspected quarterly or annually and focus on the following areas of your building: Passive Fire covers the construction requirements in relation to fire resistance. It includes items; Exit Doors; Smoke Doors; Fire Doors; Paths to Travel to Exits; Fire Resisting Shafts; Fire Resisting Structures; Fire Indices; Fire Protected Covering; Fire Rated Access Panel; Lightweight Construction; Penetrations in Fire-rated Structures; Discharge from exits to public road; Fire Isolated Passageways and Stairs, fire indices and signage. We also monitor the fire equipment, emergency lighting and mechanical services to ensure that all items applicable to your building are maintained to the correct Australian Standard by the contractor.

YarraBSG makes the process easy for you by managing the reports; providing certification and helping you to sustain long term compliance. If you also require maintenance of fire equipment, emergency lighting and mechanical ventilation, YarraBSG will coordinate these contractors.

WHY DO YOU NEED BUILDING COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATION?

By law, your building is required to have annual compliance certification, and failure to obtain this means that you may incur fines from local councils and/or risk insurance cover. Compliance gives you the knowledge that your tenants will be able to exit a building safely in case of fire.

Owner Builder

WHEN IS A CERTIFICATE OF CONSENT REQUIRED?

If you intend to apply for a building permit to carry out domestic building work that costs more that $12,000, you must provide a Certificate of Consent from the Victorian Building Authority as part of your building permit application.

You will also need to obtain subsequent certificates of consent for any additional building work (costing over $12,000) on the same property.

WHO IS AN OWNER BUILDER?

An owner-builder assumes the responsibilities, risks and liabilities of a builder. The level of those responsibilities, risks and liabilities depends on the extent of the building work undertaken by the owner.

Do not make the decision to be an owner-builder lightly. Unless you are confident that you have the knowledge to undertake a project like this, you should seriously reconsider if becoming an owner-builder is the right choice for you.

THE NOTICE MENTIONS DEMOLITION, DOES THAT MEAN I HAVE TO DEMOLISH MY WORK?

Not necessarily. A building Notice must ask you to show cause why building work should not be done, in this case demolish a structure that was built without a building permit. If you can provide documentary evidence that demonstrates compliance with the Building Regulations you can satisfy Council requirements and they may remove the Building Notice or Order.

That’s where we come in. We have developed a comprehensive inspection and report process to provide a certification of the existing structure and assist in allowing Council to cease enforcement action.

I JUST RECEIVED A BUILDING NOTICE FROM COUNCIL, WHAT SHOULD I DO NOW?

If you have received a Building Notice, Order or Minor Works Order from Council you will first note that you have 30 days to respond. Don’t leave it until the last minute; if you are proactive you will avoid the stress and high costs involved.

Contact us today so we can understand Council’s concerns and explain what you can expect from the process.

HELPFUL INFORMATION

Essential Services Maintenance – Could your building be comprimised? Building Defects and Faults What building surveyors do

Domestic Checklists

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