Common building questions

What is the difference between a building permit and a planning permit?

Building permits are different from planning permits. Whereas planning permits are about using and/or developing land in a certain way, building permits relate to the method of construction used in building works or the change of use of a building.

In some instances both a planning permit and a building permit will be required.

Contact a Building Officer to determine what type of permit/s you will need to undertake your proposal.

What is the difference between a municipal building surveyor and a private building surveyor?

A building surveyor is a professional trained in understanding the building control process.

There are two types of building surveyor.

  • A Private building surveyor is a fully independent person who operates under private business
  • A Municipal building surveyor operates under the office of local government (Council)

It is up to the applicant/owner, not the builder, to choose the type of building surveyor they wish to engage.

Who they chose will be authorised to assess building plans with a view to ensuring they comply with the Building Act 1993, the Building Regulations 2006 and the Building Code of Australia.

Further information about the role of Building Surveyors can be found by following the links below.

What if my permit will expire before the works are finished or even started?

All building permits specify a commencement date and completion date for building work. If for some reason circumstances prevent the commencement or completion of the building work by the nominated date you must seek an extension of time from your building surveyor before the relevant date passes.

A building permit will lapse if an extension of time has not been sought or approved and works have not commenced or are not completed within the required time period. If a building permit has lapsed than all building work must stop until a new building permit is obtained to complete the unfinished building work.

Request for Extension of Time to a Building Permit(PDF, 148KB)

What if I carry out works without a building permit?

A number of issues arise from carrying out works without a building permit. Doing this can compromise the safety of occupants and cause problems with insurance and other legal matters. If the matter cannot be resolved through informal negotiation with the parties involved than the following enforcement options are available:

1.    Building Notice
A Building Notice is the first step in the enforcement process.  Where Council finds work carried out without a permit or any issue that affects the health and safety of the public, a building notice will be issued asking the property owner to ‘show cause’ why certain actions should not be carried out.

2.    Building Order
Where an owner does not respond to a building notice or does not respond adequately, the building surveyor may issue a building order. A building order is a direction to carry out work to ensure works comply with the building regulations.

3.    Building Order to Stop Works
Where a building surveyor has reason to believe a building is not compliant with the Building Regulations, and this cannot be rectified through the issue of a Building Order or Notice, a Building Order to Stop Work may be issued. Failing to comply with a stop work order may result in prosecution.

A Municipal Building Surveyor is also able to issue Emergency Orders, where a danger to life or property exists because of the conditions or proposed use of a building, the land on which building work is being or is proposed to be carried out.

How the Building Activity Management System (BAMS) will impact you

Important changes are being introduced to Victoria’s building permit and levy laws from 1 July 2019. These changes affect the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 2019

Industry Group  High-level impacts relating to BAMS 
 Builders Builders need to provide the applicant with all information required to ensure the correct information is provided to the MBS.
Builders need to be aware that the MBS is not allowed to issue a building permit until payment of the building permit levy has been made to the VBA and the MBS has received the Building Permit No. (BPN) from the VBA.
The MBS will inform the applicant or their agent that they need to pay the building permit levy directly to the VBA before the BPN and subsequent building permit can be issued.
The speed at which a building permit is issued (and work can begin) depends on whether the applicant or agent pays the permit levy in a timely manner. 
Property Owner/Applicant  A MBS may ask the applicant for a building permit, (or their nominated agent), to make payments directly to the VBA instead of to the building surveyor.
The applicant will need to understand the importance of paying promptly, so there is no unnecessary delay in the VBA issuing a BPN and, in turn, no unnecessary delay in the building surveyor issuing a building permit.
The property owner is required to notify the VBA of any variation to the building work following the issue of a building permit, if that variation has resulted in an increase to the estimated cost of works of $15,625 or more.
The VBA may require the owner to pay an additional building permit levy amount when it has been notified or become aware of an increase in the cost of building work.


Further information about BAMS can be found at Payment to the VBA must be by credit/debit card or Bpay