How To Know When You Need A Building Permit In Victoria


Before embarking on any residential building project, whether it’s new constructions, alterations or renovations, it is crucial to consult a building surveyor to determine if a building permit is required. Even seemingly small projects like garden sheds may necessitate a building permit.

Failure to obtain the necessary permit can result in penalties, fines, and legal action from the Council or the Victorian Building Authority. Building permits ensure the safety of the construction work and its compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Victorian building legislation.

In this article, we will explore the key aspects of building permits, including when to apply for one, who issues them and the advantages of working with a professional building surveyor to complete your next project.


Understanding when to apply for a building permit is crucial to ensure compliance with regulations and avoid potential penalties. The primary purpose of a building permit is to ensure the safety of the construction work and its compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and Victorian building legislation. Building permits provide a comprehensive framework for reviewing plans, conducting inspections, and ensuring that construction activities meet the required standards. Consulting with a building surveyor will help you determine whether your project needs a permit and help you navigate the application process.

Failure to obtain a building permit can have serious consequences. It may lead to penalties, fines, and legal action from your council or the Victorian Building Authority. Additionally, insurance companies may refuse coverage for works undertaken without a permit, leaving homeowners liable for any damages or accidents that may occur.

While permits are generally required for most construction projects, there are some exemptions to be aware of. These exemptions are based on the type of work being carried out and its potential impact on the safety and structural integrity of the building.

Certain types of maintenance work, such as painting, retiling, or minor repairs that do not affect the structural integrity, may not require a building permit. However, it is important to note that if any structural changes or alterations are involved, a permit may still be necessary.

There are also exemptions for small-scale constructions, including unroofed structures such as pergolas under 20 square meters or small sheds under 10 square meters and less than 2.4 meters in height. However, it is crucial to verify these exemptions with a building surveyor or your local council, as they can vary depending on the location and specific circumstances.

For more information about when building permits are required, check out the Victorian Building Authority’s practice note on this topic available here.


Who Issues Residential Building Permits?

In Victoria, building permits can be issued by either a private building surveyor or your local council. However, most councils no longer issue building permits, making private building surveyors the primary issuers.

Private building surveyors are registered building practitioners who possess the necessary qualifications and expertise to assess building permit applications, conduct inspections, and issue occupancy permits or certificates of final inspection. They are authorized by the Victorian Building Authority to perform these tasks.

Opting for a private building surveyor offers several advantages. Private building surveyors often provide a more streamlined and efficient service compared to the your local council. They have a deep understanding of the building permit process and can offer expert advice and guidance throughout the building project. Their specialised knowledge and experience in the field can help ensure compliance with regulations, address any concerns or issues that arise during construction, and ultimately streamline the overall building process.

Additionally, private building surveyors may have more flexibility in terms of timing and availability, allowing for a smoother and more efficient progression of the construction project. Their expertise in navigating complex building codes and regulations can help homeowners and builders save time, effort, and potentially costly mistakes.

How To Apply For A Victorian Building Permit

To apply for a building permit in Victoria, you must complete a Building Permit Application Form (Form 1) and submit it to either a private building surveyor or your local council. The application should include comprehensive plans and specifications of the proposed building work, including architectural drawings, site plans, and engineering details. The application fee will vary depending on the project’s scope and complexity.

Once the application is submitted, the building surveyor or your council will assess it against the relevant building regulations and the BCA. If necessary, they may request additional information or clarification. Once approved, the building surveyor will issue the building permit, which will outline the conditions and requirements for the construction work. The permit will also specify the mandatory inspection stages throughout the building process.

If you’re in the planning process for a new project or looking to obtain a building permit, then you should consider the services of a building surveyor consultant like Deemed To Perform Consulting. We can provide expert advice and guidance throughout construction process, and work with you to put together design packages that help you work through the permit application process with efficiency.

To partner with us for your next project contact us today by calling 0404 300 268 or reach out via email at

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