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Guide to Councils


Victorian law makes a clear distinction between a planning permit issued under the Planning and Environment Act 1987 and a building permit issued under the Building Act 1993.

A building permit authorises the construction or demolition of a building or structure if it complies with the building regulations. These cover things like the siting of most single dwellings, protection of adjoining property during construction, structural adequacy, light, ventilation and drainage.

If a planning permit is required, the building permit cannot be issued until the planning permit has been issued, and must be consistent with the planning permit.

A building permit may only be issued by a registered building surveyor. Most councils have municipal building surveyors on staff or contract, and they are responsible for the building control functions of councils. This includes the issuing of building permits. Councils are responsible for the administration and enforcement of certain parts of the Building Act and building regulations in their municipality.

Permits may also be issued by private building surveyors. Councils are not responsible for work undertaken by private building surveyors. A list of registered building surveyors is available from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Complaints about building surveyors and building practitioners may be made to the VBA.

A building surveyor issues a building permit after confirming compliance with the Building Act and building regulations. Before issuing a building permit, the building surveyor must also be satisfied that any consents by any reporting authority required under the Building Act, and any other prescribed approval (including planning approval) have been obtained.

A private building surveyor must lodge a copy of the building permit within seven days of issue. It must be lodged to council accompanied by plans and any other relevant documents.

The council is required to keep a register of all building permits given to it.

For more information about the building approval system, visit the Victorian Building Authority or contact your local council.