Frequently Asked Questions - Building

Glenorchy City Councils Building Section routinely receives questions from residents and other persons regarding building works and or building legislation; a selection of common questions (and relevant answers) is provided below;

Q. When is a building permit required?

A. Under the Building Act 2016, building permits are generally required for building works that are nominated as “high risk” work. Please refer to Councils ‘Categories of Building Work’ page for further information.

Q. Can I start my excavations prior to a building permit being issued?

A.  No. If your building project requires you to obtain a building permit (or other valid consent) from Council. You cannot begin excavations until the building permit/ relevant approvals have been officially issued.

Q. Does Council retain old house plans?

A. Yes, in many cases we will have building records relevant to your property, including design plans. Please be advised that there may be a cost involved with retrieving and producing copies of these records and some information may be subject to copyright protections.

Please complete and submit the “House Plan Request Form” to Council's Building & Plumbing Section to apply.

Q. For how long is a building permit valid?

A. As per the Building Act 2016, building permits are valid for a period of 2 years from the date of issue. However, it must also be recognised that work relating to a building permit must have commenced within the first 12 months from issue (unless otherwise specified), otherwise the permit will lapse.

Q. Can I extend my building permit if I need more time to complete my building works?

A. Yes, building & plumbing permits can be extended for a period of time (usually in 12 months intervals). Applications can be made with Council's Building Section using the relevant Permit Extension Request Form. Copies of the relevant forms can be obtained from the Building & Plumbing Forms pages.

Q. Are there any building requirements in relation to Solar Panels?

A. Yes, since November 2012, building legislation has directed that solar panels (and other solar energy) systems above a certain size constitute building work and subsequently may require some type of building approval. Please refer to the ‘Categories of Building Work’ Page for further information.

Q. Swimming pool approval and fencing requirements?

A. Under the Building Act 2016 swimming pools are separated into different risk categories of work.

Important: Swimming pool fencing and barriers must be constructed to Australian Standards. Prior to the installation of a pool an owner should consult with a Building Surveyor with respect to pool fencing/barrier requirements.

Swimming Pools:

Category 1 - Low Risk Pool” - is a relocatable swimming pool that is temporarily erected, more than 300mm deep but less than 9 square metres in area; this does not require approval, but is required to be located within an existing swimming pool access barrier that is built to meet the Australian Standards. Please consult with a private building surveyor for advice on the Australian Standards (and requirements) for pool fencing.

Category 2 - Low Risk Pool” – is a permanent pool or spa pool that is not elevated, not located in a landslip hazard area, more than 300mm deep and with a maximum footprint area of 18 square metres. Work in this category must be performed by a licensed builder.

A fence associated with this type of pool IS NOT Low Risk Work but is Category 3 Notifiable Building Work that a Building Surveyor must certify prior to using the pool or spa.   

Category 3 - Medium Risk Pool” – Any pool which does not conform to the requirements of Category 1 or Category 2 will automatically fall into Category 3 Notifiable Building type works. Prior to installing any pool or spa within this category an owner must engage a Building Surveyor.

This information relating to pools and fencing is general in nature and intended to provide awareness to those installing pools and fencing only. It is the responsibility of a pool owner to seek expert advice from an appropriately qualified and competent professional person (i.e. Building Surveyor) to ensure specific circumstances and sites are assessed for compliance with Building Act 2016.

Please be advised the cost of installing a fence to comply with the Australian Standards can exceed the purchase cost of some pools.

Q. What if I discover my property has unapproved building work?

A. In accordance with the Building Act 2016, Permit Authorities (Council) are tasked with enforcing compliance provisions for illegal building works.  In many cases, unapproved works can be resolved without the need for removal or demolition of the structures. The most common approach requires owners to obtain retrospective approval for the building works in question.

If you are concerned about or have illegal (unapproved) building works on your property you are encouraged to contact Councils Building and Plumbing Section.

Q. I want to alter some aspects of my building work, what do I have to do?

A. If you currently have a building permit (or other valid approval) to carry out building works, variations to your approval are usually possible. However, before you make any changes you should first consult with your building surveyor and Council’s officers. Some variations may require consent from Council.

Q. I have some old applications relating to my property which have not been finalised, what can I do?

A. Council's building section is usually able to assist/guide you in finalising old applications. Speak with one of the Council's building officers to discuss the specifics of your property.

Q. Can I draw my own plans for a Building Permit Application?

A. Generally speaking, any building work which requires approval from either Council or a Private Building Surveyor will require official plans to be prepared by a suitable licenced person. However, some circumstances may allow for an owner to produce certain drawings (e.g. Site Plan).

Q. Can I view Councils records in relation to my property?

A. Depending on the information you are seeking to obtain, you may be able to access Councils records on your property. Some information however, may be protected by privacy laws, in which case will be viewable at Council's discretion. If you are seeking to obtain old building plans, in most cases (where the information is still available) we will be able to facilitate these requests.

Please obtain and complete the “House Plan Request Form” and submit it to Council's Building & Plumbing Section to apply.

Q. How can I find out the requirements of the Building Code of Australia?

A. For technical advice and information on provisions of the Building Code of Australia, it is suggested that you contact an accredited building surveyor. They have the professional knowledge and experience to assist with these types of enquiries.

Q. What are the requirements for installing wood heaters?

A. The Building Regulations 2016 require that before a person intends to install a heating appliance (i.e. stove, wood heater or similar which burns oil or solid fuel), that person must notify Council using the approved “Heating Appliance Installation Notification Form
Similarly, once the installation has taken place, the person must notify Council that the installation has been completed using the “Heating Appliance Compliance Certificate”.
Please note that wood heater installations are required to comply with the requirements of the NCC - Building Code of Australia.

Q. What if my question is not listed above?

A. If you have a question related to building or plumbing issues, please feel free to contact one of Council's Building & Plumbing Officers. We will endeavour to answer your query in accordance in a timely and professional manner.

If you have a question about building which is not answered above, please feel free to contact our building and plumbing section via the “Contact us” page.