How to Get a Council Issued Building Permit - Owner Builder Club

How to Get a Council Issued Building Permit

How to get a Building Permit from Council

Want to know how to get a Council issued Building Permit?

We bet you're excited and ready to roll up your sleeves and jump into your next big project. Perhaps it's that dreamy sunroom you've always wanted, or maybe it's a modern, spacious kitchen fit for a master chef. Whatever it is, we can almost hear the hum of the drill and the clink of the hammer echoing in your future.

But hold on a minute! Before you start laying bricks, swinging hammers, or pouring concrete, we need to chat about something crucial: how to get a building permit from Council. Now, don't let your eyes glaze over just yet.

In this article, you’ll understand the ins and outs of how to get a building permit. Let's make sure your next project is built on a solid foundation – both literally and figuratively!

BEFORE WE BEGIN: There are over 530 local councils in Australia so please know that Council rules and regulations differ from Council to Council. Please keep that in mind when you read the following information 😊

What is a Building Permit?

In simple terms, it's official approval from your local Council that allows you to go ahead with a construction or renovation project on your property. It's like the green light at a traffic signal telling you it's safe to proceed.

Now, you might think, as an owner builder, “Why do I need a permit? It's my property, after all!” More on that later.

NOTE: A Council issue ‘Building Permit' is different from an ‘Owner Builder Permit'.

An Owner Builder Permit is issued by your state Government and the Building Permit is issued by your local Council.

In some states, you must do a course in order to get an Owner Builder Permit and this needs to be done BEFORE applying for a Building Permit. Click here to learn more about the Owner Builder Permit.

Who Needs a Building Permit?

Who needs a building permit

To kick things off, let's shed some light on the typical types of construction projects that mandate permits. As a rule of thumb, any task that involves the erection, modification, demolition, or removal of a building will necessitate a permit.



This encompasses:

  • The construction of new homes and buildings.
  • Home augmentations such as room additions, garages, or decks.
  • Significant renovations that alter the existing structure of the building.
  • Installation of pools, retaining walls, and fences beyond a specific height.
  • Demolition of existing structures.

But remember, every rule has an exception. For instance, minor structures like garden sheds, pergolas, or fences below a certain height might not require a permit. However, this can fluctuate based on your local council rules.

Always consult with your local Council before initiating any construction project to ensure you're not inadvertently violating any regulations.

Local Councils and Other Regulatory Bodies

Your local Council is responsible for reviewing your application and ensuring it meets all necessary regulations. They're your main point of contact during this process and can provide valuable advice to help you obtain your permit.

Other bodies, such as the Building Commission or Planning Department, may also be involved, depending on the nature of your project. They're there to ensure that your construction project aligns with broader planning strategies and building standards.

How to get a Building Permit

The building permit processVenturing into the realm of building permits can feel like navigating a maze. But don't worry, we're here to guide you through it!

The general process of obtaining a building permit in Australia (this link is for Owner Builders in Queensland) involves several steps.


Your quest for a building permit commences with comprehending your project requirements and assembling the necessary documents. You'll be required to supply detailed plans and blueprints of your proposed construction, inclusive of specifications about materials, dimensions, and layouts. Depending on your project's nature, you may also need to submit additional reports or assessments.

Application Submission

With all your documents prepared, it's time to present your application. This typically entails completing an application form provided by your local Council and submitting it along with your plans and other documents. Some Councils accept online submissions, while others might necessitate an in-person submission.


Post submission, your application will be scrutinised by the Council. They will evaluate your plans and documents to ensure they adhere to all pertinent laws and regulations. This may include checking for compliance with zoning laws, structural safety standards, and environmental considerations. They may request additional details or modifications to your plans during this phase.


The moment you receive a formal notification from the Council, you'll know your permit has been approved. This generally arrives in the form of a written notice or certificate.

Once in your possession, you're free to kickstart construction!

But bear in mind that approval often comes attached with conditions that must be adhered to during construction. Ensure you comprehend these stipulations before commencing work.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

One of the most common errors is insufficient information in your application. Remember that story about the boy who cried wolf? Well, in this case, you want to be as comprehensive and detailed as possible right from the start.

Double-check your application and ensure you've included all necessary details. Think of it like packing for a trip – you wouldn't want to forget your swimsuit if you're going to the beach, right?

Another common mistake is not checking with your local Council before starting your project. Imagine planning a fabulous two-story extension only to find out your area has a height restriction!

Always consult with your local Council before you start planning your project. They're there to help and can provide valuable advice to save time and money.

The Consequences of Bypassing the Permit Process

Now, we need to talk about the serious stuff – the consequences of bypassing the permit process.

If you choose to proceed without a permit, you could face legal repercussions such as fines or even court proceedings. Plus, you might have to undo your work, which can be costly and heartbreaking. Imagine having to tear down that beautiful new deck you just built!


So there you have it! Securing a building permit might seem like a chore, but it's a crucial part of the construction process. Not only does it ensure your project is safe and up to code, but it also protects you from potential legal and financial headaches down the line.

As an owner-builder, complying with local regulations is part of the job. Remember, your local council is there to help you through the process. So, keep calm, carry on, and before you know it, you'll be standing in front of your completed project with a sense of accomplishment and peace of mind. Happy building!

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does it take to get a building permit?

The timeline can vary depending on the complexity of the project and the specific council's workload. However, it typically takes several weeks. Many owner builders report that their projects get delayed due to the time it takes to get Council approval. Be prepared for this.

What if my building permit application is denied?

If your application is denied, the Council will usually provide reasons for the denial. You can typically make the necessary adjustments and reapply.

Is there an expiration date on a building permit?

Yes, building permits typically have an expiration date. This can range from six months to a few years depending on the Council and the type of project.

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