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A Guide to the Building Approvals Process

Brief overview of the Building Act 2011

The Building Act 2011 (Act)  provides flexibility and choice for both builders and consumers when making the suite of building applications.  

The Act separates the process of certifying that a building design complies with applicable building standards (generally the National Construction Code) from the administrative process of the Local Government (Permit Authority) issuing building approval in the form of a Building Permit.

For Building Permits, a Certificate of Design Compliance (CDC) is issued by a registered Building Surveyor, either in the private sector or as an employee of a Local Government.  The CDC confirms that the proposed building design complies with all of the applicable building standards.

Once a CDC and all of the relevant documents have been provided to the Permit Authority and all other aspects of the Act have been satisfied - such as Planning and Health requirements - the Permit Authority can issue a Building Permit which allows the builder to commence building works.

The Act also deals with matters such as Occupancy Permits, Demolition Permits, Retrospective Building Approval, inspections and compliance matters such as building orders and the process of application and approval as set out in the Act.

The Local Government administers the Building Act 2011, and the associated Building Regulations 2012 and has various powers to ensure compliance.

What is the difference between a Certified and Uncertified application?

Certified application

The Certified application process allows the owner or applicant to have the plans and specifications certified by a registered Building Surveyor.  Once the Building Surveyor is satisfied that the documents comply with the applicable building standards, a CDC is issued for the proposed works.

The applicant then submits the CDC, application form (Form BA1), plans and specifications referenced on the CDC to the Permit Authority for assessment. 

Once the Permit Authority is satisfied that all aspects of the Act, including all Planning and Health requirements, have been met, a Building Permit is then issued allowing the person named as the builder on the Building Permit to commence building works.

Uncertified application

The Uncertified application process allows the owner or applicant to submit the plans and specifications to the Permit Authority to be assessed for compliance with the applicable building standards, by a Building Surveyor employed by the Permit Authority.

Once the Permit Authority's Building Surveyor is satisfied that the plans and specifications comply with the applicable building standards and that all aspects of the Act, including all Planning and Health requirements, have been met, the CDC and Building Permit are issued, allowing the person named as the builder on the Building Permit to commence building works.

How long does building approval take?

The time to approve an application depends on the type of application lodged.

A Certified application must be determined by the Permit Authority within 10 business days.

An Uncertified application must be determined within 25 business days.

It is important to note that the time is counted from the day after lodgement and not the day of lodgement.

Fees and charges

All fees and charges depend on the type of application being lodged and are prescribed under the Build Regulations 2012

Other Government fees, such as the Construction Training Fund and Building Services Levy, apply to certain applications. All fees can be viewed here.

Builder's responsibilities

The person named as the builder on a building permit must ensure:

  • The building is constructed as per the approved plans and specifications
  • Any inspections referenced on the CDC have been carried out and the relevant certificates obtained
  • A Notice of Completion (Form BA7) is submitted to the relevant Permit Authority within seven days of the completion of the building work completion date.

The Notice of Completion establishes the end date of the Building Permit for compliance and record keeping purposes, and signifies the point from which the builder has fulfilled his obligations regarding compliance with the Building Act 2011.

It should be noted that a Notice of Completion does not affect contractual matters such as the contents or timing of a Notice of Practical Completion or any requirements to make good any defects to a building before a final certificate is issued.

Inspections

The Building Act allows for establishment inspections to be carried out during construction. Inspections may be required by the Building Surveyor approving the CDC and will be required to be carried out by a registered Building Surveyor as part of the construction.

An Application for Occupancy Permit along with the Notice of Completion (Form BA7) are required to have certificates for inspections or testing referenced on the CDC attached to the application or notice.

Forms and information sheets

A list of all Building Application forms can be found here or you can visit the Building Commission's website.

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