Regulation & Building Plan Essentials

The Regulations

There are literally thousands of regulations applicable to building works in Victoria. Consumers can access the regulations and practice notes (further explanation advice) from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).

If you’re researching the specifics of a regulation or an Australian Standard, you can seek additional support from the Australian Building Codes Board who administer the National Construction Code (NCC).

The NCC is essentially a detailed articulation of every Australian construction rule. Note that there is some variation between the various Australian States regarding the adoption of the national code. Be aware also that the NCC is a highly technical document. Unless you have some prior experience or are technically minded you may find the language challenging.

You may also consider contacting Standards Australia who oversee the revision and creation of building standards. If you’re just looking for local independent support about regulations the best people to talk with are your -

  • Appointed surveyor
  • Your local council or shire
  • Your architect, building designer or engineer
  • The VBA.

You may also find industry associations able to provide useful ‘layman’ explanations about specific regulations too.

Your Building Plans Must Comply with the Regulations

Plans for your new home, extension, renovation or repairs must take into account:

  • Victorian Government Building Regulations so that the work is structurally adequate and the health, safety and amenity standards for the building is achieved
  • Foundation data, including soil tests, to work out an appropriate foundation depth, excavation costs and an adequate footing system for the building
  • Local Council laws
  • Mandatory energy rating requirements.

Make sure everything you want is in writing and in the plans and specifications before you sign the contract - changes can be very expensive once you've signed. Changes may also require an amendment to the building permit.

Courtesy of Consumer Affairs Victoria, here's a terrific checklist on building plans, regulations and permits –

  1. Do your building plans, then check if you need planning and building permits before work starts
  2. As the home owner, it is your responsibility to ensure permits are obtained
  3. Choose your own independent building surveyor
  4. Use registered architects, designers and draftspeople
  5. Make sure your building contract clearly states who is responsible for doing your building plans and who will obtain permits

Check if You Need a Planning & Building Permit

As the home owner, it is your responsibility to make sure planning and building permits are obtained, whether you get them yourself or get someone else (such as your builder) to do it for you.

You must not start work without a building permit.

Note: When your builder acts on your behalf to get a building permit, you must first appoint a building surveyor or instruct your builder to apply to a municipal building surveyor for a permit. It is also your responsibility to make sure that the Certificate of Final Inspection or Occupancy Permit is obtained when work is complete (the final step in the permit process).

Local Council & Role of the Surveyor 

You will need to contact your local council to find out what local planning laws and regulations apply to your project. To find your local council contact details, visit the know your council website.

Also, check with your local council if there are any additional council requirements for your area. For example, termite or fire protection requirements, or a development levy.

A registered building surveyor can advise whether you need a building permit NB: a written approval from a registered building surveyor that shows your plans comply with building regulations.

The building surveyor will assess your application (for a fee) and either:

  • Request changes to ensure the plans and specifications comply with building regulations
  • Grant the building permit, allowing building work to start.

Private or Municipal Surveyor  

You may choose either a private building surveyor or a municipal building surveyor. Remember, your builder may recommend a building surveyor, but cannot appoint a private building surveyor for you.

  • You or your architect, designer or draftsperson can apply to the local council for the planning permit
  • You can obtain a building permit from a registered private or council building surveyor, or
  • Your builder can apply for the planning and building permits on your behalf, but cannot appoint a private building surveyor on your behalf. If you want your builder to apply for the building permit on your behalf you must first appoint a private building surveyor or instruct your builder to apply to a municipal building surveyor for a permit..

If Your Builder Applies for Your Building Permit

When your builder acts on your behalf to get a building permit, you:

  1. Must first appoint a private building surveyor or instruct your builder to apply to a municipal building surveyor for a permit
  2. Must provide them with written authority either in your building contract or in a separately signed document to apply for a building permit on your behalf after you have appointed the private building surveyor
  3. Should read and understand the permit application before it is signed
  4. Should receive a copy of the building permit when it is issued.

Acknowledgment: this article relies heavily on content produced by Consumer Affairs Victoria.

               

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