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Have you got a building permit?

December 03, 2019

HIA receives numerous enquiries from members who have undertaken building work only to find out that a building permit has not been issued for that work. This can lead to expensive legal costs, suspension of your registration as a building practitioner and penalties issued by the VBA or council.

In many of these cases where it turns out that no building permit was issued, the owner has provided the builder with set of plans for a quote and advised that they have a permit or will be getting the permit.

Undertaking building work that requires a building permit without the building permit can cost you over $80,000 for a natural person and $400,000 for a company.

Before pricing a potential job and preparing the contract, you should check if a building permit has been issued or is required. Unless the building work is exempt under Schedule 3 of the Building Regulations 2018, all building work requires a building permit.

What should you do?

To confirm that a building permit has been obtained:

  • Check the plans have been stamped and approved by the building surveyor.
  • Ask for a copy of the building permit and any other associated documents (if there is hesitation be wary!)

HIA recommends that in this situation you don’t provide a contract to the client without first seeing the building permit and all the approved plans.

Note once you have accepted the project and provided a contract you must write to the building surveyor and provide your details.

Where the owner/client indicates plans have been lodged with a building surveyor:

  • Find out the name of the building surveyor and check that this is the case
  • Ask to see the plans actually submitted to the building surveyor (these could be different to the ones your quoting on)
  • If you are to be the builder, you will have to provide the building surveyor with your registration details, a copy of the contract and copy of the domestic building insurance if the value of the building work exceeds $16,000.

Remember any domestic building work over $10,000 requires a major domestic building contract.


For further information, please contact HIA Building Services on 1300 650 620.