FAQ Building

DISCLAIMER
Important information concerning the interpretations of legislation and other policies is contained in this page. It is recommended that the Disclaimer be read in conjunction with the information provided.

One of the core activities of Waratah-Wynyard Council is to regulate the construction of buildings. The Building Permit process regulates the construction and alteration of buildings by assessing proposed construction or alteration work against the requirements of the building legislation and the Building Code of Australia (BCA). Plumbing permits are also usually part of the building permit process.

Read the Plumbing and Drainage template for answers to questions on this topic. The planning process is also explained in greater detail in the Planning Permits and Appeals template. Both templates are available on your council website.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
  1. What are my responsibilities before I start as an owner-builder?
  2. When is a Building Permit required?
  3. Can I start doing works on the site before I have a Building Permit?
  4. What does the Building Permit process involve?
  5. How long does it take to get a Building Permit?
  6. What fees will I have to pay to obtain a Building Permit?
  7. If my Building Application is refused, what can I do?

1. What legislation controls building?

The relevant legislation relating to building, which a council has a responsibility to administer are the:

The Commonwealth's Disability Discrimination Act 1992 may also have an influence on design and construction outcomes.

However, the single most important document controlling the detail of building construction is the Building Code of Australia (BCA). This code is produced and maintained by the Australian Buil d ing Codes Board. The BCA is given legal standing under the Building Act 2000 in Tasmania, similar to legislation in the other States and Territories. An annual edition of the BCA is produced in May.

Elements of the BCA

The BCA addresses the technical issues of design and construction of buildings and other structures. It is produced in two volumes: Volume 1 (commercial buildings) and Volume 2 (domestic buildings) and includes provisions about:

  • structure
  • fire resistance
  • access and egress
  • services and equipment
  • health and amenity in buildings
  • energy efficiency.

There is also a Guide to the BCA.

Management of the BCA

The Building Standards and Regulations Branch of the Department of State Growth manages the general development of and technical input to the BCA in Tasmania. It is located at 30 Gordons Hill Rd, Rosny Park, 7018. Contact: (03) 6233 2010.

Queries regarding the BCA

  • To clarify understanding of any provision of the BCA, refer to the BCA Guide.
  • If a query relates to a project specific problem, talk to an accredited building surveyor or the relevant council. Waratah-Wynyard Council's Building Surveyor can be contacted on (03) 6443 8316.
  • If the query is about how to interpret a provision of the BCA, talk to the Building Standards and Regulations Branch of the Department of Infrastructure, Energy and Resources (DIER), Ph: (03) 6233 2010.

Getting a copy of the BCA

Hard copies of the BCA and the Guide to the BCA can be ordered online via the www.abcb.gov.au website.

A CD version of the BCA and Guide are available from the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). For all enquires about ABCB publication sales please ring 1300 857 522 or e-mail bca@abcb.gov.au .

On-line versions of the BCA and the BCA Guide are also available via the Australian Building Codes Board site on a 12 month subscription. Monthly and Limited Access subscriptions are also available.

Outlets in Tasmania for Purchasing the BCA in Hard Copy:

  • Standards Australia, 10 Barrack Street, HOBART 7000

Ph: 1300 654 646 or 6224 2380

Outlets in Tasmania for Viewing the Hard Copy BCA:

State Library of Tasmania, Reference Library - Hobart, Launceston, Devonport and Burnie. Check the State Library on-line catalogue for availability.

  • Workplace Standards Tasmania Library, 30 Gordons Hill Road, Rosny Park 7018
  • University of Tasmania Hobart Campus, Morris Miller Library, Churchill Avenue, SANDY BAY 7005
  • TAFE Tasmania library in Queenstown. (Back to FAQ List)
2. What is the difference between a Building Permit and a Planning Permit?

A Building Permit authorises the construction and alteration of buildings by assessing any proposed new buildings, structures or alteration work against the requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

A Planning Permit authorises the use and development of land by assessing proposals against council planning schemes and the State's planning legislation. It particularly examines the impact of the proposed development or use on the surrounding area, whereas Building Permits focus on the proposed structure, its safety and amenity.

Check with your council to see if you require both.

Waratah-Wynyard Council does not accept applications for both Building and Development permits at the same time. (Back to FAQ List)

3. What do I need to know about accreditation and indemnity insurance? What if I'm an owner-builder?

To ensure buildings are constructed safely and competently, the Building Act 2000 has introduced a system for mandatory accreditation and insurance for all qualified:

  • designers (including architects, building designers, engineers and building service designers) responsible for the design of buildings;
  • building surveyors and assistant building surveyors responsible for the assessment of design and building work;
  • builders (including domestic, commercial, construction managers, fire protection services and demolishers) responsible for the construction (or demolition) of buildings.

The Building Act requires that such accredited building practitioners carry out the design, construction (or demolition) and assessment of all building work that requires a building permit and is valued over $5000.

Building work totalling less than $5000 still requires a building permit, but not necessarily a qualified building practitioner.

Building practitioners will be accredited in the appropriate Category and Class for the work that they can perform. They may be accredited in more than one Category. A Category is a broad description of the building practitioners normal work or occupation. Within each Category of Accredited Building Practitioner (ABP) there may be several Classes.

For example - The ABP Category of Builder is divided into these Classes:

  • Builder - Commercial;
  • Builder - Domestic;
  • Builder - Construction Manager;
  • Builder - Fire Protection; and
  • Builder - Demolisher.

Attached to each of these Classes is a "Scope of Work" requirement. The Scope of Work reflects the practitioner's level of skills, qualifications and experience. For example, the Class of Builder - Commercial has four Scope of Work levels, with unrestricted work at Level 4 (the highest level). A Builder - Commercial ABP Level 4 is therefore not restricted to any particular type or size of commercial building project.

A Builder - Commercial ABP Level 1 (the lowest level of Commercial Builder) is restricted by their Scope of Work to a one storey building with a maximum floor area of 500 square metres and would not be permitted to build a three storey building.

Further information on accreditation and implementation of the Building Act 2000 is available from Building Standards and Regulations Branch.

Housing Indemnity Insurance

If you are building or extending a house and the cost is more than $12,000 you will need to ensure that your builder has a Housing Indemnity Policy . This policy is required under the Housing Indemnity Act 1992 .

Housing Indemnity Insurance provides cover for six years from the completion of the building for:

  • any construction defects that occur
  • work not completed due to the death, insolvency or bankruptcy of the builder
  • work that is deficient and not fixed.

Owner Builders

Genuine owner builders can still build without the accreditation or indemnity insurance requirements of qualified professionals.

However, according to the Housing Indemnity Act 1992 if you sell your house within 6 years of completion, you will need to:

  • have the house inspected by an accredited person and keep a copy of the inspection report - an authorised insurer can suggest a qualified person.
  • obtain indemnity insurance cover as specified by an Owner-Builder Ministerial Insurance Order. Details are available from Workplace Standards Tasmania.
  • provide a copy of both these documents to the new owner, prior to signing the contract of sale.

Please consult this website for further up-to-date information concerning Housing Indemnity. (Back to FAQ List)

4. How do I find an accredited builder, surveyor or architect?

The names, contact details and the scope of work for all accredited building practitioners are available on the Building Standards and Regulations website. See question 3 for further information on this topic. (Back to FAQ List)

5. What are my responsibilities before I start as an owner builder?

The Building Act 2000 allows genuine owner-builders who are not professional builders to construct a house on their own land. However the Act restricts an owner-builder's activity to no more than two residential buildings in ten years.

As an owner-builder applying for a building permit you must sign a statutory declaration to indicate you have read the Owner Builder Guidelines and understand your responsibilities as an owner and as a builder.

The Owner Builder Statement must be signed and witnessed by a Justice of the Peace or Commissioner for Declarations before the council can issue a building permit.

Owner Builder Statement

All details on the form must be correct, including reference to any Public Liability Insurance or Workers Compensation Insurance. Owner-builders are not obliged to take out an insurance policy but you are strongly advised to consider the option of having such cover. (Back to FAQ List)

6. When is a Building Permit required?

A Building Permit is required for the vast majority of structures and buildings with the exception of some minor structures such as small fences, some repair works and minor alterations. You should always check with your council before you commence any building, plumbing or repair works. Council's contact number for Building and Development Services is (03) 6443 8316).

A Permit is required for the following types of work:

  • new building work, including a new dwelling
  • farm buildings/outbuildings
  • renovations or alterations
  • extensions and additions
  • removing or altering load bearing walls
  • works that may involve a change of use of the premises, eg converting a shop into a residence, or converting a garage into habitable space such as a bedroom
  • garages, carports, and sheds
  • swimming pools and pool fences
  • building a deck
  • certain other structures and improvements including building retaining walls or fences over a certain height
  • demolition work is also defined as building work and requires a Building Permit.

Building work that does not require a Building Permit is set out in the Building Regulations 2004 and in the Plumbing Regulations 2004 for plumbing work. (Back to FAQ List)

7. Can I start doing building or plumbing work on the site before I have a Building Permit?

No. You are not allowed to start any works on a site until you have received your Building Permit. This is because Council needs to:

  • determine that none of the works will interfere with its underground services;
  • check the title for any restrictions on where buildings can go on the site.

Also, works started before a permit is issued might contravene a condition put on the permit.

Contravention of the provisions of the Building Act 2000 , the Building Regulations 200 4 or the Plumbing Regulations 2004 can result in an infringement notice and a fine or prosecution before a court. Councils also have powers to order the demolition of illegal works. (Back to FAQ List)

8. What does the Building Permit process involve?

The Building Permit process first involves the assessment of a proposed building or structure against the Building Code of Australia. You will need to submit detailed construction plans to an accredited building surveyor, either a private operator or one employed by council.

The Director Building Control - Specified Lists states what documents are required and the operational timeframe. The surveyor assesses the plans and then provides you with a Certificate of Likely Compliance.

The form which is completed by the surveyor can be viewed as Approved Form No. 11, Director Building Control - Approved Forms .

You will also need to apply to a building surveyor (private or council) for a certificate of likely compliance.

The Certificate of Likely Compliance indicates that the proposed work:

  • is likely to comply with the Act, Regulations and the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
  • has adequate fire protection measures put in place
  • is capable of receiving adequate light and ventilation
  • is properly provided with sanitary facilities
  • provides for the safety of users inside buildings
  • complies with energy efficiency requirements.

Next, you will need to fill in an Application for Building Permit(103 kb) and provide:

  • 3 copies of the Certificate of Likely Compliance;
  • 3 copies of all documents referred to on that certificate;
  • 3 copies of an Owner Builder Statement if you are an owner builder;
  • copy of title.

A private building surveyor can advise on technical building issues. For example, if building with reinforced concrete or steel, or building a retaining wall of 1m or higher, you may also need a Structural Certificate from an accredited structural engineer.

Council will assess the proposal in terms of its compliance with any planning conditions, by-laws and other relevant legislation. If your proposal requires a Plumbing Permit, refer to the council's Engineering Department on (03) 6443 8351.

The Plumbing Permit indicates there will be adequate:

  • sanitary drainage to a sewerage system or on-site waste water management system
  • hot and cold water supply
  • provision for stormwater from the buildings and their surroundings
  • fire fighting water supply.

The building surveyor may carry out the required building inspections depending on the arrangements with the council. Building work may involve a series of inspections at various stages of construction to determine if it is being constructed correctly and in accordance with the permit documents.

  • Typical inspection stages are:
  • foundations;
  • footings and floor slabs construction;
  • framing up;
  • Occupancy Certificate and Certificate of Completion (see below for details).

At the final stage, a building surveyor will certify your plans and issue you with an Occupancy Certificate and Certificate of Completion. A building must not be occupied until an Occupancy Certificate is issued, indicating it is ready for use. (Back to FAQ List)

9. How long does it take to get a Building Permit?

A Certificate of Likely Compliance from a building surveyor must accompany an application for a Building Permit from council. The surveyor must process a request for a certificate within 21 days or a period agreed between the applicant and the council.

Council must then send a Building Permit or a Notice of Refusal of a Permit within 7 days of receiving the application for the permit. (Back to FAQ List)

10. What fees will I have to pay to obtain a Building Permit?

Building Surveyors (private or council employed) charge market rate fees for their services.

Councils charge building fees to issue building permits.

Other levies

In addition to the council building fee, there are the Building Construction Training Levy and the Building Permit Levy which are collected by councils.

The Training Levy was introduced in 1991 under the Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Act 1990. This levy is charged on any building project over $5,000 and is calculated as 0.2% of the estimated cost of the building, as indicated in the contract or on the building application form.

It is usually paid to the council when lodging the building application but can be paid directly to the Tasmanian Building and Construction and Industry Training Board (TBCITB). Visit the website for further information.

The Building Permit Levy came into existence with the Building Act 2000. Calculated as 0.1% of the total estimated cost of building and plumbing work valued at $5,000 or more, it must be paid before council issues a building permit.

This levy is paid into a special fund and used solely to develop a better regulatory environment for Tasmania's building industry. (Back to FAQ List)

11. If my Building Application is refused, what can I do?

If a building application has been refused, there are usually slight changes that can be made which will make it acceptable. You can talk to either your builder, private building surveyor or the council building surveyor and discuss ways in which your application can be amended and therefore successfully lodged.

Another course of action can be to contact the Building Standards and Regulation and discussing the situation with their officers.

Under Part 12, Division 2 of the Building Act 2000 you can appeal a refusal to issue a permit (or non issue of a permit) to the Building App e al Board.

The Building Appeal Board is established under the Building Act 2000 as an independent tribunal. The Board considers cases relating to:

  • a condition of the permit
  • occupancy or temporary occupancy
  • protection work
  • the Building Regulations 2004 or the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
  • the Plumbing Regulations 2004 or the Tasmanian Plumbing Code 1994
Waratah Wynyard Council
21 Saunders Street : PO Box 168, Wynyard TAS 7325
Phone (03) 6443 8333 : Fax (03) 6443 8383 : Email: council@warwyn.tas.gov.au
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