When do I need a building approval?
If you’re planning on building a small extension or carrying out some renovation work, or even just building retaining walls or a fence, how do you know if you need a building approval?
The Building Regulation 2006 has a list of ‘triggers’ which determine when a building approval is required.
Below is a list of some of the more common building work and when a building approval will be required. If the work you’re proposing is not mentioned here, or if you are unsure if a building approval will be required, please contact us. Our technical team members know what questions to ask in order to determine if a building approval will be required.
If your new fence is no more than 2m in height AND it does not form part of a pool barrier, you will not require a building approval.
However, if your fence sits on top of a retaining wall, and the combined height of the retaining wall and fence is greater than 2m, a building approval will be required. In most cases this will also trigger an application to Council for a relaxation.
The Building Regulation 2006 contains a great deal of information in regard to pool barriers and when a building approval is required. In a nut shell, if you are proposing to repair/adjust or replace a part of a pool fence, you may do so provided the part to be rectified is no more than 5m in length and contains no more than 6 posts. However, if the work you’re proposing involves changing the ground level (for eg, laying pavers around your pool area), or increasing/decreasing the height of the barrier then you are advised to speak with one of our technical members.
Non-load bearing devices
These are aerials, antennas, flagpoles, mast, or tower (provided you do not live within the Obstacle Limitation Surfaces Standards (OLS) of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority), and a satellite dish with a maximum dimension of 900mm.
No building approval will be required if the device is attached to a building or structure and no more than 3.5m above the building/structure OR if the device is detached from any building or structure and no more than 10m above the natural ground surface.
If the retaining wall does not form part of a pool fence/barrier, and if it is less than 1m in height, not within 1.5m of an existing or proposed structure/building, and not taking surcharge load, you do not need a building approval. Surcharge load means any load applied to the ground that may affect the movement of the ground near the retaining wall.
Filling and excavation
Filling or excavation does not require a building approval if:
(a) the proposed cut or fill is no deeper than 1m above or below the natural ground surface for the relevant building or structure; and
(b) any cut embankment is only into soil of a following type and no steeper than gradient stated for the soil type— (i) for sand—2 horizontal to 1 vertical; (ii) for silt—4 horizontal to 1 vertical; (iii) for firm clay—1 horizontal to 1 vertical; (iv) for soft clay—3 horizontal to 2 vertical; and
(c) any fill embankment is no steeper than 4.0 horizontal to 1.0 vertical; and
(d) any compacted fill embankment is only into soil of a following type and no steeper than gradient stated for the soil type— (i) for sand—3 horizontal to 2 vertical; (ii) for silt—4 horizontal to 1 vertical; (iii) for firm clay—2 horizontal to 1 vertical.
You may need to seek advice from a geotechnical engineer to determine if any of the above applies to your proposed filling/excavation
Repairs/maintenance/alterations not affecting any structural components
This section applies only if the work you’re proposing does not affect any fire safety system within the existing building/structure, and does not affect a pool barrier. You do not require a building approval if the work does not alter the building/structure’s floor area or height.
Repairs/maintenance/alterations only affecting minor structural components
This section does not apply to any work effecting a pool barrier or a solar hot water system, or a photovoltaic solar panel attached to the roof of a building, and if the building work does not change the floor area or height of the existing building/structure. For a dwelling house, you will not require a building approval if the work does not affect more than 20% if the building’s structural components of the same type.
A structural component is considered minor if:
(a) the component is— (i) a roof beam or lintel supporting no more than 5m2 of roof area; or (ii) a sun hood or sun blind projecting no more than 1m from the building; or
(b) if the work is repairing or maintaining the component—were it not present in the building, the building’s general safety and structural integrity would not be at risk; or
(c) if the work is adding the component to the building—the addition does not pose a risk to the building’s general safety and structural integrity.
If you live in an apartment building or an attached dwelling, please contact us for further information.
Class 10 buildings/structures - Sheds, decks, carports, etc
This section does not apply to decks that are roofed or higher than 1m out of ground, or to work proposed in Cyclonic areas.
No building approval will be required if:
(a) the plan area of the class 10 is no more than 10m2; and
(b) the class 10 has, above its natural ground surface— (i) a height of no more than 2.4m; and (ii) if the class 10 is not a rainwater tank—a mean height of no more than 2.1m, worked out by dividing its total elevational area facing the boundary by its horizontal length facing the boundary; and
(c) any side of the class 10 is no longer than 5m
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