What Permits Do You Need to Build or Renovate your Home?

Lauren O'Grady
July 28, 2020

Are you confused about what sort of Permits you will need before you can build or renovate your home? If so, don’t worry – you are not alone! I’m here to clear the air and explain these permits in easy to understand terms.

There are two main Permits that you may require

1. Planning Permit

2. Building Permit.

If you require a planning permit, it must be issued before you can obtain a building permit.

Therefore, first thing is first. Do you require a Planning Permit?


Planning permits give permission to develop or use land in a particular way. You may need a planning permit for a new home, extension, renovation or an additional dwelling on the land and most applications for a planning permit will be made to your local council.

I would suggest before you start to design plans or even buy a block of land, contact your local council, speak to a town planner and simply ask “If I was to build or renovate/extend this home at this address will I need to obtain a Planning Permit?” They will do their checks and it will be a simple Yes or No answer.

But generally speaking, these are some factors(but not limited to) which will require a Planning permit:

- If the land is in a bushfire zone and requires a Bushfire Management Overlay.

- If the house is within a Heritage Listing overlay

- If the land is in an area prone to flooding.

- If you are wanting to add more dwellings to the block ie subdivide the land.

- If the site has aboriginal heritage considerations.

If you don’t require a Planning Permit you can breathe a big sigh of relief! Councils are notorious for taking their time on issuing Planning permits and they can cost a lot of $$$$. You can now head straight to finalizing plans and then apply for a Building Permit through a Building Surveyor.

If you do need a Planning Permit the standard process is:

- Before plans are drawn chat to your local council about possible restrictions you may have on the land.

- If you have neighbours chat to them about your intentions and see if they would have any objections to your project.

- Get plans drawn. At this stage you would only need to submit the site plan, floor plan and elevations and specifications (ie what will the house be cladded in) for the Planning Permit. You may also need certain other reports like Bushfire Management Overlay or Land Capability Assessment.

- Prepare and submit the application to council. If you’re working with a draftsman or architect they can submit this on your behalf.

- Council check the application and ask any possible questions to either owner or Draftsman/Architect about project and ask for possible adjustments to the plans.

- Application for Planning Permit will then need to be advertised for 14 days. This means the Permit application needs to be placed on a board at the project site, clearly visible for passing traffic to read for 14 days and sent to neighbours directly to respond or object the project.

- Council considers any objections and holds mediation meetings if required.

- If all compliant and no objections the Council will issue the Planning Permit.

With a Planning Permit the project must commence within 2 years of the grant date and complete the work within 4 years unless the permit specifies otherwise.

Once a Planning Permit is issued (if required) then you can get started on finalizing the complete set of plans and reports required for the Building Permit


A building permit is a written approval document issued by a certified Building Surveyor allowing you to either build a home, extend an existing home, build a shed, alfresco, carport, deck and sometimes even renovate a property.

Possible exemptions to this may include:

- Some minor alterations or demolitions

- Pergolas associated with houses

- Some garden sheds with a floor area less than 10m2

- Repair work for maintenance purposes.

To be able to get a Building Permit you will need the following plans and reports:

- Construction Drawings. Includes Site plan, Floor plan, Elevations, Sections,

- Engineering Drawings. Includes all structural drawings for foundations and frame

- Soil Report

- Energy Rating

- Other reports you may need will be Planning Permit (again if required), Bushfire Management Overlay or Bushfire Attack Level Report and Land Capability Assessment.

To engage a Building Surveyor you can either choose one yourself or you can get your builder to appoint one they regularly work with. If you choose this option the client will need to sign an “Appointment of Relevant Building Surveying” document. The great benefit of this option is that most builders have excellent relationships with Building Surveyor’s that they regularly work with and are available to answer any questions in a timely manner.

The building surveyor will specify on the building permit the mandatory inspections that will be required throughout the course of the building work. They can vary the required inspections or carry additional inspections, if they think this is necessary.

However, the standard Inspections are completed at:

- Foundation stage, just before concrete is poured. This may require a few inspections depending on the engineered footing system.

- Completion of Frame Stage

- Final/Completion Inspection.

The price of a building permit will depend on the size of a project and you can contact your chosen Building Surveyor to receive as estimate on the price of a Building Permit.

Once you have received the Building Permit you have a limited time to commence and finish the project. For a new home construction you have 12 months to commence the works and a total of 24 months to complete the project. However, you can request an extension of time through your Building Surveyor.

There are many other reports and permits you may require before building or renovating but that can be for another blog!! I think this is enough information for one day 😉

Loz 👩

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