Building advice

Asbestos

Asbestos was commonly used in the manufacture of residential building materials from the mid-1940s until the late 1980s. If fibres are suspended in air and breathed into the lungs asbestos can cause a serious health risk.

While a building permit is not required for the removal of asbestos, there is a legal responsibility when building or renovating to ensure asbestos is safely removed and disposed of.

Visit Asbestos Victoria to learn how you can identify and manage asbestos and locate resources for the management and removal of asbestos from a building site.

Bushfire and building

A Bushfire Attack Level Assessment Report (BALs) is required when submitting a building permit application for new homes, alterations and additions in a Bushfire Prone Area.  Its purpose is to ensure buildings are constructed with greater bushfire protection.

A BAL measures the design safety of a building by rating it against the proposed sites exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact in a bushfire event.

To find out if a property is located within a bushfire prone area visit VicPlan (online mapping tool).

To read further about BALs and download an application form visit the Victorian Building Association.

Energy efficiency

All new homes, home renovations, alterations and additions need to comply with a 6 Star Standard under the Building Code of Australia.  This rating refers to the energy efficiency of a building and applies to a home’s building envelope – its roof, walls, floor and windows.

Meeting 6 Star compliance is not difficult. It's about good design that takes into account a buildings solar orientation, its use of energy star windows, inclusion of proper insulation, natural ventilation and draught-proofing.

Talking early to a building practitioner will help take advantage of the benefits, such as increased comfort, savings on energy bills and making a home more resilient to climate change.

Helpful information about building a sustainable and energy efficient home can be found by following the resource links.

Your Home: Australia's guide to Environmentally Sustainable Homes

Sustainability

Essential safety measures

When the construction of a building is complete, the owner is responsible for its upkeep and maintenance, particularly its safety features or essential safety measures. All buildings, other than a house or outbuilding, are affected.

The purpose of essential safety measures is to ensure the safe evacuation of all occupants in an emergency and to control the spread of fire so a building and its adjoining buildings can be saved. They can include exit doors, early warning systems, emergency lifts, emergency lighting, emergency power supply, exit signs, fire curtains and doors, fire extinguishers, fire hydrants, fire isolated stairs, fire rated materials, fire windows, paths of travel to exits, smoke alarms and sprinkler systems.
 
Maintenance of essential safety measures ensures a building remains at the required operational level throughout its life. The type of maintenance needed depends on the complexity of the safety measure, equipment or feature and the maintenance program required or expected at the time of installation. To find out more, Contact a Building Officer and visit the Victorian Building Authority.

Fences

Building Permits

A Building Permit is sometimes required for a fence that is above a certain height.  These requirements are listed in the table below:

 Type of Fence  Description  Building Permit Required
 Corner Fence  Within 9m of an Intersection (from the kerb)  When over 1m in height
 Front Fence  On a Declared Road  When over 2m in height
 Front Fence  Lightweight (Picket, Colorbond, etc)  When over 1.5m in height
 Front Fence  Solid (Brick, Concrete, etc)  When over 1.2m in height
 Boundary Fence  Side or Rear Boundary  When over 2m in height
 Boundary Fence   Within 3m of a Street Alignment  Must comply with Front Fence Regulations
 Security Fence  Containing Barb Wire adjacent to a Street Alignment   Permit required
 Tennis Court Fence 
 No permit required if within property boundary 

Contact a Building Officer for further advice.

Neighbouring Fences

 Fencing requirements are regulated by the Fencing Act of Victoria.  The Act contains rules about who pays for a dividing fence, the type of fence to be built, notices that neighbours need to give one another and how to resolve disputes that come up when discussing fencing works with your neighbour.

If you don't know your neighbour you can request contact details by completing a Request for Owner Details for Fencing Purposes form and submitting it to Council.

Council is not responsible for enforcing fencing requirements. Rather, information on your rights and responsibilities can be found at Fencing Online and the Dispute Settlement Centre.

Neighbouring Council Properties

 Council will contribute half of the cost of the construction and replacement of a standard fencing abutting Council owned properties (recreation reserves, parks and other buildings).  Council must be provided with three written quotes and their approval must be obtained prior to any repair and/or replacement of fences.  Council will not consider contribution after works are commenced or completed.  Half cost fencing is not available when:

  • Properties are adjacent to road reserves, laneway, walkways and right of way
  • Properties are adjacent to other authorities' land (e.g. Wannon Water, Crown Land, etc)
  • Properties are not owned by Council (e.g. private ownership, VicRoads, etc)

PoPE Permit

Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) and Temporary Structure

If you are planning to hold an event, on either public or private land, you may require a permit from the Building Department for a Place of Public Entertainment (PoPE) or Temporary Structure.

A PoPE is a ‘building or place used or intended to be used for conducting public entertainment or a public meeting’. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • public assembly building of more than 500m2
  • place of more than 500m2, which may include the erection of a prescribed temporary structure, being one of the following:
  • seating stand for more than 20 persons
  • marquee of more than 100m2
  • tent of more than 100m2
  •  booth of more than 100m2
  • stage or platform of more than 150m

Examples of public entertainment include live performances (i.e. concerts and music festivals), rodeos, circuses, cinema in the park, cultural performances, agricultural shows, community fairs and celebrations. 

Under the Building Act 1993 an Occupancy Permit must be issued before a building or place can be used for a Place of Public Entertainment, which is enclosed or substantially enclosed, or to which admission can be gained by payment of money for the giving of other consideration, and which is used or intended to be used for the purposes of providing public entertainment.

There are exemptions available for community based organisations that are organising and controlling a free event and the number of persons in the one place at any one time during the event does not exceed 5,000.

The use of temporary structures at such events are assessed as part of the PoPE Permit application. They are prescribed as:

  • tents, marquees or booths with a floor area greater than 100m2
  • seating stands for more than 20 persons
  • stage or platforms (including sky borders and stage wings) exceeding 150m2 in floor area

Guidance through the PoPE process can be offered by the Shire. 

Please Contact a Building Officer about any questions you may have in regards to requirements.

Rainwater tanks

Rainwater tanks can store water run-off from your roof for use around the home or garden. Installing a rainwater tank, together with other household water saving devices, can reduce your household water use by up to 25 per cent, saving you money on water bills and conserving potable water.

While domestic rainwater tanks do not need a building permit, they may require a building and/or planning permit if there are earthworks, retaining walls, or any type of building structure associated with the tank. It is advisable to Contact a Building Officer before starting any work and to keep in mind that a rainwater tank must:

  • be installed by a licensed plumber in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications
  • be fitted with an overflow pipe of the same diameter as the inlet pipe
  • have the outlet connected to a stormwater drainage system going to the legal point of discharge
  • be a minimum of 500mm from any boundary
  • not be placed over an easement without approval from the relevant authority
  • not be placed over septic systems including sand filters, and
  • must be professionally designed and manufactured to Australian Standards using corrosion resistant, non-toxic materials.

It should also be sealed to prevent insects, vermin and other animals entering and to keep stored water free of leaves, animal droppings, pollutants and other matter.

ResCode (Part 4 of the Building Regulations)

Residential development within Victoria is controlled by residential development provisions and tools. Commonly known as ResCode, these provisions apply to the construction of new dwellings, alterations and extensions to existing dwellings and residential subdivisions.

ResCode standards include key measures to protect neighbourhood character, amenity and environmentally sustainable residential development throughout Victoria. Requirements for siting and design of dwellings and associated buildings include minimum and maximum street setbacks, building height, walls on boundaries, site coverage, overshadowing and overlooking.

Any variation to ResCode provisions requires Council Consent.  See Applying for Variations to Siting Regulations - Report and Consent

Further information about ResCode requirements can be found by following the resource link.

Understanding the Residential Development Standards (ResCode)(PDF, 545KB)

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are compulsory and must be installed in every residential building and be located in a position designed to wake sleeping occupants.

Residential buildings include:

  • detached houses, row houses, town houses, terrace houses or villa units
  • some boarding houses, guest houses or hostels
  • buildings containing sole-occupancy units (e.g. apartments, blocks of flats)
  • backpacker accommodation, residential parts of hotels or motels, residential parts of schools, accommodation for the aged, disabled or children
  • dwellings in non-residential buildings (e.g. houses attached to shops).

Smoke alarms must be connected (hard wired) to a building's consumer mains power source as well as having a battery back-up, unless the building was built before 1 August 1997. In this instance battery only operated smoke alarms are permitted.

Smoke alarms help reduce fire fatalities and injuries when properly fitted, regularly tested and adequately maintained.

Swimming pools and spas

A building permit is required for the construction of all safety barriers, and all in ground and above ground pools and spas (including inflatable and relocatable pools and spas) that can hold more than 300mm of water in depth. 

To find out more about your obligations and requirements Contact a Building Officer, visit the Victorian Building Authority to view all building regulations relating to swimming pools, spas and their safety barriers and explore the Swimming Pool and Spa Association of Victoria’s website.