Section 10 (continued): Processing applications

Lodging the application

Applications for building, demolition or occupancy permits or for building approval certificates can be submitted in a variety of ways, including in person, by post or electronic lodgement depending on the systems the relevant permit authority has in place. Under the Building Act, permit authorities have a fixed amount of time to grant or refuse a permit application. The point at which a permit authority’s timeframe for assessing an application starts is referred to as ‘starting the clock’. The point at which the clock starts depends on the method of application.

Method of application When the clock starts Example
Post At 12.00am the day after the application is received at the permit authority's office. The timing of this will depend on the delivery service paid for by the applicant. The applicant posts the application at 3.00pm on Tuesday. The post box is located in the same city as the permit authority. As the application should be received by the permit authority on the Wednesday, the clock will start at 12.00am on Thursday. Applicants should check with Australia Post for delivery times which may vary for ‘Regular’ and ‘Priority’ mail.
In person At 12.00 am the day after the application has been accepted by the permit authority’s front counter staff. The applicant enters a local government authority office on a Thursday to hand over their application. The counter staff may discuss the application with the applicant to ensure it is complete, but are obliged to accept the application if it is the wish of the applicant. The clock starts ticking at 12.00am on the Friday.
Electronically (email/online) At 12.00 am the day after the application has been received by the permit authority’s information technology system. The applicant lodges the application to the local government authority online. The application is automatically recorded and enters the local government authority’s online system at 3.46pm on a Monday. The clock starts at 12.00am on the Tuesday.


Processing timeframes

To help permit authorities process applications within the strict timeframes they are given, it is important to make sure the application is complete when it is submitted. If an application is incomplete, or the required approvals have not been obtained, the permit authority is entitled to reject the application and keep the application fee. The permit authority can ask for missing information and set a time by when it must be provided. The length of time the permit authority has to consider the application from when the clock starts is detailed in the table below:

Type of application Time a permit authority has to decide
Building permit certified (BA1)
Demolition permit (BA5)
Occupancy permit (BA9)
Occupancy permit strata (BA11)
Building approval certificate (BA13)
Building approval certificate strata (BA15)
10 business days
Building permit uncertified (BA2)
(Class 1a and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures only)
25 business days

Requests for missing information

Informal requests 

Through an informal request, the permit authority can ask for missing information, for example via phone or email, without stopping the clock.

Formal requests

When the permit authority wishes to stop the clock a formal request must be given in writing to the applicant. When this is sent, the clock is stopped. Once the information is received, the clock restarts and the permit authority has what was left of the 10 business days (or 25 business days for an uncertified application) to decide on the application. The permit authority will prescribe the time by when the missing information is to be provided. This time cannot exceed 21 days.

The application assessment time may be extended through an agreement between the applicant and permit authority.

If the application is not determined within the specified timeframe and an extension has not been agreed to by the applicant and permit authority, the permit authority must refund the application fee. If the application is refused, or ‘deemed refused’ because the application was not determined on time, the applicant may lodge an appeal against the decision by a permit authority with the State Administrative Tribunal in accordance with the provisions under the Building Act. To avoid unnecessary delays in processing applications, applicants are encouraged to obtain planning and other approvals where required prior to applications being submitted.

Fees and levies 

Application fees 

Schedule 2 of the Building Regulations prescribes fees for applications submitted to permit authorities for building, demolition and occupancy permits and building approval certificates. The fees are a combination of fixed and percentage rate fees. The percentage rate fees do not normally change, as natural increases are incorporated by the value of the building work to which the percentage rate is applied. For example, ‘building permit application’ fees are based on a percentage of the estimated value of building work. Other fees, such as the minimum building permit and occupancy permit application fee, are fixed rate fees. These fixed rate fees are increased in line with inflation on 1 July each year.

The relevant components when estimating the value of building work are:

  • all goods, including manufactured goods, forming part of the construction work
  • labour
  • fees payable
  • profit margin
  • GST
  • services necessary
  • overheads 

Building Services Levy

In addition to the fees, a Building Services Levy is payable to the permit authority at the time an application for a building, demolition or occupancy permit or building approval certificate is made. The permit authority should only remit the levy to the Building Commissioner when it grants or issues a permit or building approval certificate. If the permit authority refuses to grant a permit or building approval certificate, the permit authority must refund the Building Services Levy to the applicant. The Building Services Levy is prescribed in regulation 12 of the Building Services (Complaint Resolution and Administration) Regulations 2011.

Building and Construction Industry Training Fund

The Building and Construction Industry Training Fund is a levy paid on building permit applications where the estimated construction value is $20,000 or more. The levy is currently calculated at 0.2 per cent of the total value of construction for all works valued at more than $20,000. Payment is required to be made prior to the commencement of the building work. The value of construction work includes the same relevant components listed above for building permit applications. A permit authority may collect the levy on behalf of the Construction Training Fund, or pre-payment can be made directly to the Construction Training Fund in person, by post or online.

The levy calculation rate is current at time of publication of this document. For further information visit or contact the Construction Training Fund directly on 08 9244 0100 or email

Other fees

With the exception of uncertified building permit applications, certification fees for obtaining a certificate of design compliance or other certificates are not regulated and are set by the registered building surveying contractor or the local government that provides a certification service.

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