Frequently Asked Questions

The following information is provided to assist is answering some of our clients most common questions. If you can't find the answer to your query, please do not hesitate to contact our office at your convenience.

In Queensland, all “Building Work” is Assessable Development that requires a Building Approval to be issued by a Building Certifier prior to the commencement unless it is prescribed by the Building Act 1975 to be self-assessable (known as Accepted Development subject to relevant provisions) or exempt (known as Accepted Development).

It is important to note that except for issues of minor maintenance, there are no provisions for that allow building work without an approval the basis of replacing a building or structure “like for like”.

In broad terms, “Building Work” is defined by the Building Act as building, repairing, altering, underpinning, moving or demolishing a building or other structure and filling or excavating incidental to these activities.

Well yes and no!

As the owner you are free to improve your property however Building, Plumbing and Planning Regulations impose various controls over such improvements to ensure the safety of the built environment, the health of occupants and amenity of community. 

The following is a list of common building work that, under Queensland law, requires a Development Approval for Building Works to be issued by a Building Certifier prior to the work commencing, it is not a definitive list and may not reflect the requirement in other Australian States or Territories, if in doubt please contact Pacific BCQ.      Contact Us

  • The construction or creation of new dwellings, new secondary dwellings, new duplexes, new apartments, new commercial buildings and new industrial buildings;
  • The installation of, or alterations to, special fire services, including, but not limited to, fire hydrants systems, fire sprinkler systems, smoke and heat detection systems etc.;
  • The installation of, or alterations to, passive fire protection elements such as fire rated walls, smoke walls and smoke doors, fire rated doors including entry doors to units and apartments;
  • Alterations and additions to existing dwellings, including internal alterations, bathroom renovations, the replacement of windows and glazed doors;
  • Alterations and additions to existing apartments and units, including internal alterations, bathroom renovations, the replacement of windows and glazed doors;
  • Alterations and additions to existing commercial and industrial buildings including changes to internal layout, construction of mezzanine levels, caretakers residences and the replacement of windows and glazed doors;
  • The change of the classification of a building;
  • Tenancy fitouts of new commercial and industrial buildings;
  • Tenancy fitouts of existing commercial and industrial buildings including retail shops, offices and the replacement or renewal of shop fronts;
  • The erection of temporary buildings and structures including stages, grand stands, stadium seating and tents (only applicable to tents that exceed 500m²);
  • The erection of sporting or play ground equipment that exceeds 3.0m in height;
  • The installation of, or alterations to, any handrail or balustrade that protects a fall of 1.0m or more above the surface level below;
  • The installation of, or alterations to, any stair that involves a change in levels of  three risers, or 1.0m or more or is part of path of travel to a required exit;
  • Converting existing garages, sheds or storage spaces into habitable areas (bedrooms, rumpus rooms etc.);
  • The removal and/or relocation of an existing building, including re-siting of existing buildings on same allotment;
  • The demolition of a building or structure, including part demolition and the decommissioning of a swimming pool or spa;
  • The construction of new garages, carports and shed, including garden sheds that exceed 10m² in area or 2.4m in height;
  • Alterations and additions to existing garages, carports and sheds, including adding roller-doors, or enclosing walls to a carport;
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, unroofed pergolas, unroofed decks, gardens shed etc. in tropical cyclone areas regardless of height above ground or floor area; 
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, unroofed pergolas that exceed 10m² in area, 2.4m in height or 5m in length;
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, roofed decks, roofed verandahs, roofed patios, roofed balconies including gazebos and shade sails regardless of size or height above ground;
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, unroofed decks, unroofed verandahs, unroofed patios and unroofed balconies that are 1.0m or more above the surface level below or that exceed 10m² in area or 5m in length;
  • The placement of shipping containers;
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, fences over 2m in height above the natural ground level;
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, retaining walls over 1m in height, or within 1.5m of a building or other retaining wall
  • The construction of, or alteration or addition to, a swimming pool or spa pool;
  • The construction of, or alteration to, a swimming pool safety barrier, unless under the direction of a Swimming Pool Safety inspector for the purpose of obtaining a swimming pool safety certificate or, if for the the alteration or replacement of an existing barrier, it involves no more than a total of 5m of barrier and no more than 6 posts;
  • The repair, maintenance or alteration of heating devices that are integral parts of the building including free standing pot belly stoves or other combustion heaters located less than 1.2 m from adjoining walls.
  • The erection of a free standing sign if it is higher than 2.0m in height or greater than 1.2m in width;
  • The attachment of any a sign to a building or structure, including awnings, regardless of size of height;
  • The underpinning of any building or structure; 
  • The re-roofing of a building or structure;
  • The re-stumping of and existing building or structure if the involves the replacement of more than 20% of the total number of stumps;
  • The replacement of, or alteration to, any cladding forming part of, attached to or applied to, an external wall or another external part of a building.

Building Works must not commence until your Application has been assessed and the Building Approval, including the Decision Notice and Approved Plans, have been issued.

The Building Certifier is responsible for ensuring your proposed Building Work complies with the relevant Building Codes, Laws and Regulations.

Yes, bathrooms, laundries, ensuites and W.C’s carry specific provisions for waterproofing, ventilation, glazing and emergency access and may trigger the requirement to install graded falls to floor wastes, the installation of fire collars to new penetrations or the installation of new termite protection measures.

Alterations or renovations to these areas have the potential to adversely affect occupant safety and the term structural adequacy of the building and are considered to be Assessable Development. Typically an existing and proposed floor plan will be required for assessment.

Yes, most likely your Unit or Apartment contains passive acoustic and fire protection measures prescribed by the National Construction Code that largely go unnoticed by the owner or occupier. Sound rating of services, walls, floors and ceilings, non-combustibility requirements for various elements, fire rating of internal walls and shafts, fire rated access panels, fire collars, fire doors and smoke detection and alarm systems all serve to maintain the amenity and fire safety of both the unit or apartment and the building as a whole.

Internal alterations and renovations to Units or Apartments has the very real potential to adversely affect occupant safety and the structural adequacy of the building, evidence from the Grenfell Tower fire suggests that unapproved alterations and replacement of seeming innoxius elements contributed to the spread of fire, accordingly internal alterations and renovations to Units or Apartments and are considered to be Assessable Development. Typically an existing and proposed floor plan will be required for assessment, in some instances structural engineering details and specific system details for fire rated construction will also be required.

Retaining Walls may be considered “Accepted Development subject to relevant provisions” (Previously called Self-Assessable Development) meaning no Building Approval is required where all of the following criteria are met:

  • there is no surcharge loading over the zone of influence for the wall (i.e. the no loading on the soil behind the wall for a distance equal to the height of the wall) and
  • the total height of the wall, and of the fill or cut retained by the wall, is no more than 1m above the natural ground surface; and
  • the wall is no closer than 1.5m horizontally from a building or another retaining wall; and
  • it does not form part of the fencing for a swimming pool.

If your proposed retaining walls is inconsistent with one or more of these elements a Building Approval will be required before commencing the building work.

If your proposed retaining walls meets the criteria for “Accepted Development subject to relevant provisions”, no formal Building Approval is required however the building work it must still comply with the Building Code of Australia, the Queensland Development Codes and Planning Scheme provisions that may apply in your area and ensuring compliance is the responsibility of the land owner.

Yes, following the Grenfell Tower fire in London and the Lacrosse fire in Melbourne, the Queensland Government amended the Building Regulation 2006 on the 1st of October 2018 to specifically clarify that any building work that includes altering the cladding forming part of, or attached or applied to, an external wall or another external part of a building is Assessable Development.

Fences may be considered “Accepted Development subject to relevant provisions” (Previously called Self-Assessable Development) meaning no Building Approval is required where all of the following criteria are met:

  • the fence is no higher than 2m above the natural ground surface (Note: If the fence is located above a retaining wall, then the 2.0m height measurement includes the combined height of fence and retaining wall height) and
  • it does not form part of the fencing for a swimming pool.

If your proposed fence is inconsistent with one or more of these elements a Building Approval will be required before commencing the building work.

If your proposed fence meets the criteria for “Accepted Development subject to relevant provisions”, no formal Building Approval is required however the building work it must still comply with the Building Code of Australia, the Queensland Development Codes and Planning Scheme provisions that may apply in your area and ensuring compliance is the responsibility of the land owner.

Disclaimer:
The information provided is general in nature, is limited to Queensland and cannot take into account the site specific characteristics of individual properties. You should consider whether the information is appropriate to your needs, and where appropriate, seek further advice from Pacific BCQ or your Local Council.