Co-Authors: Zach Troeger, Kylie Rowlands, Kieran Balmaceda    |    Editor: Kieran Balmaceda

Building Approvals don’t have to be as confusing as they may seem. What’s more, figuring out whether you need one depending on the type of work you intend to carry out is actually quite straightforward.

To help you out, this four-step checklist will help you to understand, according to Queensland Legislation, when you will need a building approval for your work and when your work is exempt.

You can also download a PDF version of this guide here.

Step 1: When is a Building Approval Required?

A Building Approval is not always required depending on the type of work you wish to undertake. The simplest way to figure out if you need a Building Approval is to first define your work type.

This table summarises the three types of work and their requirements for Building Approvals:

Work TypeBuilding Approval Required?Other Approval Recommended?
Exempt WorkNoNo
Accepted DevelopmentNoAccepted Development Letter or Accepted Development Approval
Building WorkYESNo

If the proposed works do not fit the criteria for Exempt Work or Accepted Development (Steps 2 and 3), then your work will be defined as Building Work.

It is important to note that external cladding works (other than the roof) are always classified as Building Work.

Step 2: Is my work Exempt?

Work classified as Exempt is not required to comply with the Building Assessment Provisions, also known as the:

  • Building Code of Australia (BCA),
  • Referenced Australian Standards,
  • Queensland Development Code (QDC), or
  • Fire Safety Standards (QDC MP2.1 or QDC MP2.3).

Works that are deemed exempt do not require an approval to undertake the works.

What defines Exempt Work?

Works are classified as exempt if they meet one or more of the following conditions:

  1. Class 10b structures or special structures that are less than 3m above natural ground level and are not:
    1. A fence
    2. A retaining wall
    3. A free standing wall
    4. a swimming pool

i.e. playgrounds, sporting equipment, temporary market stalls, etc.

  1. Attaching sun hoods, window hoods or awnings to an existing building if the area of the attachment is less than 2m2.
  2. Erecting a tent with a floor area less than 100m2.
  3. A Class 10 building or structure on agricultural, floricultural, horticultural, or pastoral land where the structure is more than 200m from a road or property boundary and is not a swimming pool or pool fence.

Step 3: Is my work Accepted Development?

Accepted Development is required to comply with the Building Assessment Provisions. However it does not need a Building Approval.

You will still need to demonstrate you comply with the Building Assessment Provisions. The best way to do this is engage a private certifier to provide an Accepted Development Letter.

Does my work classify as Accepted Development?

They are Accepted Development if they comprise of one or more of the following:

  1. Works undertaken by or on behalf of the State or a Public Sector Entity.
  2. Works for a temporary site office, gantry or scaffolding on a building site.
  3. Fences that are less than 2m tall and not associated with a swimming pool.
  4. Non-loadbearing devices (Aerials, antennas, satellite dishes less than 900mm in diameter, or a flagpole or the like situated outside of an aerodrome) that are less than 3.5m above the building they are attached to or less than 10m above natural ground level when independent of another structure.
  5. Works for a Class 10 building or structure that has a floor area less than 10m2, a height less than 2.4m, a mean height less than 2.1m (excluding rainwater tanks) and no side longer than 5m except for:
    1. Works within Wind Region C,
    2. A rainwater tank for a new building,
    3. A deck that is roofed or higher than 1m above the deck’s natural ground level,
    4. A regulated pool or its fence.
  1. Repairs, maintenance or alterations to an existing building or structure (excluding works to a swimming pool fence) that do not change the building’s floor area or height and:
    1. Do not affect a structural component or affect a fire safety system.
    2. Only affect a minor structural component of the building (refer to Building Regulation 2021 Schedule 1 Clause 8(2) for definition of a minor structural component).
    3. Only affect a minor component of the building’s fire safety system (refer to Building Regulation 2021 Schedule 1 Clause 9(2) for definition of a minor structural component).
  1. The installation, repair, maintenance or alteration of a non-required heating or air-conditioning device for a building (i.e. not forming part of a ventilation or fire safety system or a chimney).
  1. Installation of, or repairs, maintenance or alterations to an existing solar hot water system or photovoltaic solar panel attached to the roof of a building.
  2. Signs that are detached from a building and are less than 2.0m tall and 1.2m wide.
  3. Retaining walls that do not form part of a pool barrier, are less than 1m tall and greater than 1.5m from another building or retaining wall.
  4. Excavating or filling where the cut or fill is no deeper than 1m above or below natural ground level and the embankment does not exceed the permitted ratios as stated under Building Regulation 2021 Schedule 1 Clause 4.
  5. Erecting a tent with a floor area less than 500m2.
  6. The installation of any of the following items within a Budget Accommodation Building built, approved, or applied for, before 01/01/1992:
    1. Smoke Alarms,
    2. Smoke Detection systems (unless the system is an AS1670 system that is required to be installed under the Fire Safety Standard).
    3. Internally illuminated exit signs, and
    4. Portable fire extinguishers.

Step 4: Does my work classify as Building Work?

Building Work is required to comply with the Building Assessment Provisions, and will always need a Building Approval.

Most work will fall into this category.

What is the criteria for Building Work?

Building Work is defined as:

  1. building, repairing, altering, underpinning, moving or demolishing a building or other structure;
  2. excavating or filling (for the aforementioned works or such that the extent will adversely affect the stability of a building or structure on the site or adjoining site);
  3. supporting land for activities mentioned in item 1;
  4. other work regulated under the building assessment provisions.

All information contained herein is general in nature. It is advised that you consult with a registered Building Practitioner to understand your unique requirements and any applicable state or national regulations, legislation, codes or guidelines before commencing any Building Works.