Section 5: Permits and processes

Types of permits and their processes

One: Building permit
Two: Occupancy permit
Three: Building approval certificate
Four: Occupancy permit strata
Five: Building approval certificate strata
Six: Demolition permit

One

Building permit

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In general a building permit, granted by a permit authority, is required before building work can be carried out.

Are there exemptions?

Part 5, Division 2 of the Building Act outlines specific exemptions for particular buildings and incidental structures (including temporary buildings). Regulation 41 Schedule 4 of the Building Regulations further outlines building work that does not require a building permit. Where an exemption applies, the Building Act (s. 37(2)) requires owners of buildings and incidental structures to ensure that, on completion, the building or incidental structure complies with each applicable building standard as set out in Part 4 of the Building Regulations. Consult with the permit authority to determine whether an exemption applies.

Applying for a building permit

Anyone can apply for a building permit, the owner, builder, designer, building surveyor or any other person. The applicant provides details of the person responsible for the work, ie the builder, in the application form. The builder takes responsibility for ensuring the construction complies with the applicable building standards and the provisions in the building permit. An application can be made for a building or one or more stages of a building. There are two types of building permit applications, “certified” and “uncertified”.

Certified application

A certified application is accompanied by a certificate of design compliance and can be made for any class of building and incidental structure. The permit authority has 10 business days to decide on a certified application.

Applications for Class 1b and Class 2 to Class 9 buildings must be made as certified applications whereas this is optional for Class 1a and 10 buildings and incidental structures.

Uncertified application

An uncertified application is submitted to the permit authority without a certificate of design compliance and can only be made for Class 1a and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures.

An independent building surveyor is appointed by the permit authority to check the proposal and provide a certificate of design compliance. The permit authority has 25 business days to decide on an uncertified application.

A building permit application must be accompanied by

  • a certificate of design compliance (BA3) except for uncertified applications;
  • copies of all relevant plans and specifications;
  • evidence of the following authorities under written law as relevant to the building or incidental structure (r. 18) —

(a) if the building work involves the construction or installation of any apparatus for the treatment of sewage as defined in the Health Act 1911 section 3(1), the approval required under section 107(2)(a) or (b) of that Act;
(b) if the building work is development as defined in the Planning and Development Act 2005 section 4, each approval required under that Act in relation to the work such as a copy of the planning approval or its reference number;
(c) if the building work involves the construction, alteration or extension of an aquatic facility as defined in the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007 regulation 4, the approval required under Part 2 Division 1 of those regulations;

  • evidence that notification of the name, address and contact number of the applicant for a building permit and the name of the permit authority to which the application is made has been given to the Heritage Council of Western Australia if the place to which the application relates (r. 18(3)(a)) —

(a) is subject to a Heritage Agreement made under the Heritage Act section 29;
(b) is entered in the Register of Heritage Places established under the Heritage Act section 46;
(c) is subject to a Conservation Order under the Heritage Act section 59; or
(d) is subject to an Order in Council made under the Heritage Act section 80.

  • appropriate consent forms or court order where work encroaches onto or adversely affects other land;
  • evidence that the required insurance provisions under the Home Building Contracts Act 1991 have been met (where applicable);
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy; and
  • evidence of owner-builder approval from the Building Services Board (if applicable).

The approval process will be quicker and more effective if a complete application is submitted to the permit authority. A permit authority must not grant the building permit unless it is satisfied as to each of the matters mentioned in s. 20, which includes the information above.

The fees cover the cost of assessment, regardless of the outcome. There is no refund of fees on refusal.

Conditions (s. 27)

A permit authority may impose, add, vary or revoke conditions on a building permit. Any conditions must relate to the particular building work rather than to work of that kind generally. Importantly those conditions cannot modify the certificate of design compliance or the plans and specifications that are specified in that certificate.

Applicants may apply to the State Administrative Tribunal for a review of the decision of the permit authority in relation to a condition imposed on the grant of a building permit.

Variations during construction

During construction some circumstances may arise that require changes or variations to the plans and specifications. Some minor changes may not require any amendment to the plans and specifications. Other changes or variations may require a certificate of design compliance if the changes affect compliance with the building standards. Accordingly a new building permit may be required to reflect those changes. The new building permit may cover the changes only and the previous building permit still covers the other works.

However where there are substantial changes or variations to the design or construction of the building or incidental structure, a new building permit for all the works may be warranted. This ensures that an accurate building record is maintained for that building or incidental structure.

Duration of a building permit

A permit authority may set any validity period for a permit. This is usually done at the request of the applicant. Where the permit authority does not set a validity period, the default is two years. If a project takes longer than expected, an application to extend the permit (BA22) can be submitted to the relevant permit authority.

Two

Occupancy permit

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An occupancy permit must be obtained from a permit authority before a Class 2 to Class 9 building can be occupied. It covers circumstances such as:

  • occupying a completed new building or a new part of an existing building (s. 46);
  • occupying an incomplete building or part of a building on a temporary basis (s. 47);
  • modifying the current occupancy permit for additional use of a building on a temporary basis (s. 48);
  • occupying a building or part of a building that has undergone a permanent change of use or classification (s. 49);
  • authorising and occupying an unauthorised building or an unauthorised part of a building (s. 51); and
  • authorising a building with existing approval with a new or replacement occupancy permit (s. 52) – this demonstrates that an existing building complies with the relevant building standards and is safe to occupy.

A copy or details of the occupancy permit must be displayed at or near the principal entrance to the building so that it is clearly visible to occupiers and other people using the building.

An occupancy permit must be obtained from a permit authority before a Class 2 to Class 9 building can be occupied. It covers circumstances such as:

  • occupying a completed new building or a new part of an existing building (s. 46);
  • occupying an incomplete building or part of a building on a temporary basis (s. 47);
  • modifying the current occupancy permit for additional use of a building on a temporary basis (s. 48);
  • occupying a building or part of a building that has undergone a permanent change of use or classification (s. 49);
  • authorising and occupying an unauthorised building or an unauthorised part of a building (s. 51); and
  • authorising a building with existing approval with a new or replacement occupancy permit (s. 52) – this demonstrates that an existing building complies with the relevant building standards and is safe to occupy.

A copy or details of the occupancy permit must be displayed at or near the principal entrance to the building so that it is clearly visible to occupiers and other people using the building.

Are there exemptions?

In Part 5, Division 2 of the Building Act, it outlines specific exemptions for particular buildings and incidental structures including temporary buildings.

Further exemptions are set out in r. 43 of the Building Regulations, (ie Class 1 and Class 10 buildings do not require an occupancy permit). Consult with the permit authority to determine whether an exemption applies.

An occupancy permit application must be accompanied by:

  • certificate of construction compliance (BA17) for new buildings including new additions to existing buildings or a certificate of building compliance (BA18) for existing buildings, signed by a building surveyor;
  • evidence of the following authorities under written law as relevant to the building or incidental structure (r. 37) — 

(a) an approval required under the Health Act 1911 section 107(2)(a) or (b);
(b) an approval required under the Planning and Development Act 2005;
(c) an approval required under the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007 Part 2 Division 1;
(d) an approval required under the Local Government (Uniform Local Provisions) Regulations 1996 regulation 12(2).

  • evidence of consent(s) from each affected owner where work encroaches onto or adversely affects other land (if applicable); and
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy (if applicable).

Occupancy permit (transitional)

Under provisions of the repealed Local Government (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1960, local governments were required to provide Class 2 to Class 9 (commercial, public and certain multi-residential buildings) with a “certificate of classification”. When the Building Act commenced on 2 April 2012, Class 2 to Class 9 buildings required an occupancy permit which replaced the certificate of classification under the repealed legislation.

This means that where an occupancy permit is required for building work associated with a building licence that was issued or building licence application made under former provisions, an occupancy permit (transitional) must be granted for the building. Section 182A of the Building Act allows an occupancy permit to be granted for buildings dealt with under the repealed legislation and defines an occupancy permit application (transitional) as an application under s.46 for a completed building which:

(a) is covered by a building licence or building licence application mentioned in s. 178(2) or (4) respectively; and
(b) has not got a certificate of classification mentioned in s. 181(2) or (3).

An application for an occupancy permit (transitional) does not require any of the following:

  • a certificate of construction compliance;
  • payment of fee for an occupancy permit; and
  • payment of building services levy.

While a certificate of construction compliance and technical certificates are not required, the permit authority must be satisfied that the building in its current state is suitable to be used in the way proposed in the occupancy permit application.

Three

Building approval certificate

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A building approval certificate confirms that the building has been assessed by a registered building surveyor for compliance and that a certificate of building compliance has been issued.

A person can apply for a building approval certificate:

(a) if they choose to obtain retrospective approval for unauthorised building work associated with a Class 1 or Class 10 building or incidental structure ie work that was completed without authorisation; or

(b) to confirm compliance with the applicable building standards for a building with any classification with existing authorisation which previously did not require an approval to occupy.

While a building approval certificate is generally used for a Class 1 and Class 10 building or incidental structure, it can also be used for any class of building where appropriate A building approval certificate application must be accompanied by:

  • a certificate of building compliance (BA18) signed by a building surveyor;
  • copies of all plans and specifications specified on the certificate of building compliance;
  • evidence of the following authorities under written laws, as relevant to the building or incidental structure (r. 37) —

(a) an approval required under the Health Act 1911 section 107(2)(a) or (b);
(b) an approval required under the Planning and Development Act 2005;
(c) an approval required under the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007 Part 2 Division 1;
(d) an approval required under the Local Government (Uniform Local Provisions) Regulations 1996 regulation 12(2).

  • where applicable, evidence of consent(s) from each affected owner where work encroaches onto or adversely affects other land; and
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy (if applicable).

The permit authority may request additional information as required to determine the application.

Four

Occupancy permit strata

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If you wish to lodge a strata plan for registration or resubdivide a lot in a strata scheme under the Strata Titles Act 1985, you will require an occupancy permit strata from the relevant permit authority. The appropriate application form is a BA11.

An occupancy permit strata does not act as an occupancy permit to authorise a person to occupy a building. A separate occupancy permit will be required for such purposes.

For buildings that do not require an occupancy permit (generally Class 1 and Class 10 buildings), see the following tab Five on “Building approval certificate strata”.

An occupancy permit strata application must be accompanied by:

  • a certificate of building compliance signed by a building surveyor;
  • evidence of any prescribed authorities’ approval;
  • evidence of the following authorities under written laws, as relevant to the building or incidental structure (r. 37) —

(a) an approval required under the Health Act 1911 section 107(2)(a) or (b);
(b) an approval required under the Planning and Development Act 2005;
(c) an approval required under the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007 Part 2 Division 1;
(d) an approval required under the Local Government (Uniform Local Provisions) Regulations 1996 regulation 12(2).

  • survey plan identifying proposed lots and encroachments;
  • where applicable, evidence of consent(s) from each affected owner where work encroaches onto or adversely affects other land; and
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy (if applicable).

Five

Building approval certificate strata

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building-approvals-process_a-guide_23_11_2015-31.jpg, by ebleakley

If you wish to lodge a strata plan for registration or resubdivide a lot in a strata scheme under the Strata Titles Act 1985, and the building does not require an occupancy permit, you will require a building approval certificate strata from the relevant permit authority. The appropriate application form is a BA15.

Generally a building approval certificate strata is used for Class 1 and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures, however it may be used for any class of building that doesn’t require an occupancy permit.

 

A building approval certificate strata application must be accompanied by:

  • a certificate of building compliance signed by a building surveyor;
  • evidence of any prescribed authorities’ approval;
  • evidence of the following authorities under written laws, as relevant to the building or incidental structure (r. 37) —

(a) an approval required under the Health Act 1911 section 107(2)(a) or (b);
(b) an approval required under the Planning and Development Act 2005;
(c) an approval required under the Health (Aquatic Facilities) Regulations 2007 Part 2 Division 1;
(d) an approval required under the Local Government (Uniform Local Provisions) Regulations 1996 regulation 12(2).

  • survey plan identifying proposed lots and encroachments;
  • where applicable, evidence of consent(s) from each affected owner where work encroaches onto or adversely affects other land; and
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy (if applicable).

Six

Demolition permit

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A demolition permit is required for the demolition, dismantling or removal of a building or incidental structure.

Are there exemptions?

In Part 5, Division 2 of the Building Act, it outlines specific exemptions for particular buildings and incidental structures (including temporary buildings). Regulation 42 of the Building Regulations further outlines demolition work for which a demolition permit is not required. Consult with the permit authority to determine whether an exemption applies.

 

Where an exemption applies, the Building Act (s. 38(2)) requires owners of buildings and incidental structures to ensure that the demolition work complies with each applicable building standard as set out in Part 4 of the Building Regulations.

A demolition permit application must be accompanied by:

  • relevant information as required, eg site plans indicating building to be demolished. Please note: applicants may need to provide more details for commercial or complex buildings;
  • copy of any planning approvals under the Planning and Development Act 2005 where required;
  • evidence of prescribed notifications (r. 19(2):

(a) notification of the name, address and contact number of the applicant for a demolition permit and the name of the permit authority to which the application is made to be given to the Heritage Council of Western Australia if the place to which the application relates —

(i) is subject to a Heritage Agreement made under the Heritage Act section 29; or
(ii) is entered in the Register of Heritage Places established under the Heritage Act section 46; or
(iii) is subject to a Conservation Order under the Heritage Act section 59; or
(iv) is subject to an Order in Council made under the Heritage Act section 80;

(b) the notification required under the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996 regulation 3.119;
(c) notification of the intended demolition work to each person who provides electricity, gas, telephone or water services to the place that is the subject of the application.

  • evidence that the building or incidental structure to be demolished has been treated to ensure that it is not infested by rodents at the time of the demolition;
  • appropriate consent forms or court orders where work adversely affects other land;
  • where asbestos is present, details of the contractor; and
  • payment of the prescribed fee and levy (if applicable).

The person named as demolition contractor may be required to be appropriately licensed by WorkSafe to carry out demolition work and may also require an asbestos removal licence.

NEXT – Section 6: Notices of completion and cessation

BACK – Section 4: Typical approval sequences

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