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WHEN DO I NEED A BUILDING PERMIT FOR CONSTRUCTION WORK IN WA?

There is some confusion around this important issue and it is worth understanding the ground rules before you start.

1 THE RULES

Building work in WA is governed by the Building Act 2011 and the Building Regulations. Local Council requirements should also be reviewed. An understanding or knowledge of these important rules is important to anybody contemplating undertaking building works in WA, especially on residential properties.


2 BUILDING PERMITS

The above Legislation and Regulations require anybody undertaking building works to obtaining a Building permit unless the building works are not required.

So the easy answer to the questions is any building work on a building requires a building permit unless it is not required.


The WA Building Commission summarises as follows:


When is a building permit required?

In general terms a building permit is required for building work that includes:

  • the construction, erection, assembly or placement of a building or an incidental structure;

  • the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a building or an incidental structure;

  • the assembly, reassembly or securing of a relocated building or a relocated incidental structure; or

  • the changing of ground levels and site works associated with one of the above points.

Building permits are granted by local government permit authorities in the area in which the proposed building work is to be carried out. To determine whether a building permit is required you must seek advice from the relevant local government permit authority.


What is the prescribed area of the state?

The area prescribed encompasses 122 of WA’s local governments. In some areas of low population only major town sites are included. Further information is available on our website.


In the majority of cases, the WA Government has delegated authority for issuing Building Permits to local Councils, Shires and Cities. In essence when a building permit is required an application is usually required to be submitted to the Councils, Shires and Cities where the structure or building being built is located.


3 WHAT IS BUILDING WORKS?

Under the Legislation, building works are loosely defined as:

  • the construction, erection, assembly or placement of a building or an incidental structure; or

  • the renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a building or an incidental structure; or

  • the assembly, reassembly or securing of a relocated building or a relocated incidental structure; or

  • the changing of ground levels of land for the purposes of work of a kind mentioned in paragraph (a), (b) or (c) to an extent that could adversely affect land beyond its boundaries; or

  • site work on any land for the purposes of, or required because of, work of a kind mentioned in — (i) paragraph (a), (b), (c) or (d); or (ii) paragraph (a) or (b) of the definition of demolition work; or

  • other prescribed work, but does not include work of a kind prescribed for the purposes of this definition as not being building work; classification, in relation to a building or incidental structure, means the classification of the building or incidental structure under the regulations;

Incidental structure means a structure attached to or incidental to a building and includes —

(a) a chimney, mast, swimming pool, fence, free-standing wall, retaining wall or permanent protection structure; and

(b) a part of a structure;


4 WHEN ARE BUILDING PERMITS NOT REQUIRED?

The Legislation and Regulations define when Building Permits are not required (s. 9(b))

(1) A building permit is not required for the following building work —

  • building work for a Class 10 building (see below) ) or incidental structure that is located, or to be located, in a local government district specified in column 1 of the Table in the area specified for that district in column 2 of the Table;

    • Essentially applies to regional areas outside town sites.

    • Building work for a building or incidental structure that is not a Class 10 building or incidental structure and that is located, or to be located, in a local government district specified in column 1 of the Table in the area (if any) specified for that district in column 3 of the Table.

    • Essentially applies to very specific regional areas.

Class 10 building or structures are non-habitual structures which are broken down into 3 sub class –

Class 10 a – sheds carports and private garages

Class 10b fence, mast, antenna, retaining wall swimming pool and like

Class 10 c private bush fire shelter associated with class 2a building

(2) In sub regulation (1)(a) and (b) — Table means the Table in Schedule 4 clause 1.

(3) A building permit is not required for building work of a kind described in the Table in Schedule 4 clause 2.

  1. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a freestanding Class 10a building that —

    1. has a floor area not exceeding 10 m and

    2. is no more than 2.4 m in height; and

    3. is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2.

  • Renovation, alteration, improvement, repair or maintenance of a building or incidental structure if the building work —

  • will not adversely affect the structural soundness of the building or incidental structure and does not include —

(i) an increase or decrease in the floor area or height of the building or incidental structure; or

(ii) underpinning or replacement of footings; or

(iii) the removal or alteration of any element of the building or incidental structure that is contributing to the support of any other element of the building or incidental structure; and

  • is done using materials commonly used for the same purpose as the material being replaced; and

  • will not change the use or classification of the building or incidental structure; and

  • will not adversely affect the safety and health of the occupants or other users of the building or incidental structure or of the public; and

  • will not affect the way in which the building or incidental structure complies with each building standard that applies to the building or incidental structure; and

  • is not work of a kind to which section 76, 77, 78 or 79 relates; and

  • is not subject to an order, agreement or permit under the Heritage Act.

  • Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a temporary office, shed or sanitary facility to be used by a builder in connection with building work carried out on the land on which the office, shed or sanitary facility is, or is proposed to be, located.

4. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a fence, screen or similar structure, other than a fence forming part of a barrier to a private swimming pool, if —

(a) the fence, screen or similar structure is constructed in accordance with a local law made under the Local Government Act 1995 section 9.60 that applies to the construction of the fence, screen or similar structure in the district in which the fence, screen or similar structure is, or is to be, located; or

(b) the fence, screen or similar structure is, or is to be, located in a district in which there is no local law of a type referred to in paragraph (a) and the fence, screen or similar structure —

(i) if constructed of masonry, is no more than 0.75 m in height; and

(ii) if constructed of a material other than masonry, is no more than 1.8 m in height; and

(iii) is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2.

5. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a mast, antenna or similar structure that —

(a) is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2; and

(b) if attached to a building —

(i) is no more than 2 m in height above the highest point of attachment to the building; and

(ii) will not affect the way in which the building complies with each building standard that applies to the building; and

  • if not attached to a building, is no more than 3 m in height.

6. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a retaining wall that —

(a) retains ground no more than 0.5 m in height; and

(b) is not associated with other building work or with the protection of land adjoining the land on which the retaining wall is located; and

(c) is not work of a kind to which section 76, 77, 78 or 79 relates.

7. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a pergola associated with a Class 1 building that —

(a) is no more than 2.4 m in height; and

(b) is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2; and

(c) covers an area not exceeding 20 m2.

In this clause —

pergola means an open structure that does not have a roof but may have a covering of open weave permeable material

8. Construction, erection, assembly or placement of a water storage tank with a capacity of 5 000 L or less.

9. Building work for a park home or annexe as those terms are defined in the Caravan Parks and Camping Grounds Act 1995 section 5(1).

10. Attachment of photovoltaic panels or solar hot water systems to the roof of a Class 1 or Class 10a building that is not located in wind region C or D as defined in AS 1170.2.

11. Building work for which a building licence was not required under the former provisions if, before commencement day —

(a) the on-site building work had commenced; or

(b) a contract to carry out the building work was entered into.

12. Building work for buildings owned or occupied by, or under the control or management of the Crown in right of the State or a department, agency or instrumentality of the Crown in right of the State that —

(a) commences before 30 June 2017; and

(b) has, when it commences, an estimated value of less than $50 000.

13. The installation of a roof mounted evaporative cooling unit on a building or incidental structure if —

(a) the building or incidental structure is not located in a bush

fire prone area; or

(b) the building is a Class 4 to Class 9 building; or

(c) the building or incidental structure is located in a bush fire prone area and the BAL for the building site is BAL-Low; or

(d) the building or incidental structure —

(i) is located in a bush fire prone area; and

(ii) the BAL for the building site is BAL-12.5, BAL-19 or BAL-29; and

(iii) the installation of the evaporative cooling unit complies with the requirements for roof penetration in respect of the building or incidental structure set out in AS 3959.


5 DON’T START UNTIL YOU HAVE A BUILDING PERMIT IF IT IS REQUIRED!

In essence a person must not do any building work on a property unless:

  • a building permit is in effect for the building work; or

  • a building permit is not required for the building work under Part 5 or regulations or an order mentioned in Part 5 Division 1; or

  • the work is done in accordance with a building order; or

  • the work is done in the course of taking action under section 118(2).

Penalty:

  • for a first offence, a fine of $50 000;

  • for a second offence, a fine of $75 000;

  • for a third or subsequent offence, a fine of $100 000 and imprisonment for 12 months.

(Ref Building Act 2011 S 9)

Bottom line – if you need a building permit do not start work until you have one.


6 MAKE SURE ALL BUILDING WORK IS COMPLIANT

It is important that all building work is compliant. Even if a Building Permit was not required.

All buildings to comply with applicable building standards

(1) The person who is named as the builder on a building permit must ensure, on completion of the building or incidental structure to which the permit applies, that the building or incidental structure complies with each applicable building standard.

Penalty:

(a) for a first offence, a fine of $50 000;

(b) for a second offence, a fine of $75 000;

(c) for a third or subsequent offence, a fine of $100 000 and imprisonment for 12 months

(2) Each owner of a building or an incidental structure in respect of which building work is done without a building permit being in effect for the building work must ensure, on completion of the building or incidental structure, that the building or incidental structure complies with each applicable building standard.

Penalty:

(a) for a first offence, a fine of $50 000;

(b) for a second offence, a fine of $75 000;

(c) for a third or subsequent offence, a fine of $100 000 and imprisonment for 12 months


7 WHEN DO YOU NEED TO USE A BUILDING CONTRACTOR OR BECOME AN OWNER BUILDER

CHECKLIST

1. Do I need a building permit?

Yes or no? (Confirm with the local government permit authority)

2. Is the value of work over $20,000?

Yes or no?

3. Is the work being carried out within the prescribed area of the state?

Yes or no?

If you answered ‘no’ to any of the above questions, registration as a building contractor is NOT required. If you answered ‘yes’ to all of the above questions, registration as a building contractor is required, unless the work is exempt. https://www.commerce.wa.gov.au/publications/do-i-need-be-registered-builder


8 IN SUMMARY

  1. It is easier to assume that all building work requires a building permit unless it is exempt. Before you start, check with your City, Council or Shire.

  2. If the works require a building permit, exceed $20,000 and are in a prescribed area, the works must be undertaken by a registered builder or registered owner builder

  3. Irrespective of whether a registered builder/owner builder is required, all works must be compliant with the Building Code.

  4. If a building permit is required, do not start work until it is obtained.

  5. Always check with your City, Council or Shire if in doubt.

How Can We Help?

Superstruct conducts a large number of building and construction inspections including:

  • Staged construction inspections:

    • Slab down (each level)

    • Walls (each level)

    • Roofs (each level)

    • Lockup and waterproofing

    • Practical completion (PCI)

  • Owner builder liability inspections

  • Maintenance period inspections

  • Statutory liability period inspections

  • WA Building Commission Reports

  • State Administrative Tribunal Reports

  • Tribunal Attendance (WABC and SAT)

  • Investigation inspections

  • Special purpose reports

Contact us today for more information or to book an inspection.

www.superstructwa.com.au


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