Do You Need A Building Approval For Your Work?

A person holds a building site plan in their hands.

Do You Need A Building Approval For Your Work? 

A building approval doesn’t have to be as confusing as it may seem. What’s more, figuring out whether you need one is quite straightforward. (Depending on the type of work you intend to carry out.)

This 4-step checklist will help you understand, according to Queensland legislation, when you need building approval for your work. As well as when your work is exempt.

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

Table of Contents

Step 1: When is a building approval required?

Building approval is not always required depending on the type of work you wish to undertake. The simplest way to determine if you need building approval is to define your work type.

This table summarises the 3 types of work requirements for building approvals.

Work Type Building Approval Required? Other Approval Recommended?
Exempt Work No No
Accepted Development No Accepted Development Letter or Accepted Development Approval
Building Work YES No

Your work defines as Building Work if the proposed works do not fit the Exempt Work or Accepted Development (Steps 2 and 3) criteria.


External cladding works (other than the roof) are always classified
 as Building Work.

Step 2: Is my work exempt from building approval?

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).
  • Fire Safety Standards (QDC MP2.1 or QDC MP2.3).


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

What defines exempt work?

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

  1. Class 10b structures or special structures 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 attachment area 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. And 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 building approval.

You will still need to demonstrate you comply with the Building Assessment Provisions. The best way to do this? 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 less than 2m tall and not associated with a swimming pool.
  4. Non-loadbearing devices less than 3.5m above the building they are attached to. (I.e. Aerials, antennas, satellite dishes less than 900mm in diameter. Or a flagpole or the like situated outside of an airfield.) Or less than 10m above natural ground level when independent of another structure.
  5. Works for a Class 10 building or structure with 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 roofed deck or a deck higher than 1m above the natural ground level.
    4. A regulated pool or its fence.
  6. Repairs, maintenance or alterations to an existing building or structure that do not change the building’s floor area or height. (This excludes works to a swimming pool fence.) And additionally:
    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 the 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 the definition of a minor structural component.)
  7. 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.)
  8. 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.
  9. Signs detached from a building and less than 2.0m tall and 1.2m wide.
  10. 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.
  11. Excavating or filling where the cut or fill is no deeper than 1m above or below natural ground level. The embankment does not exceed the permitted ratios. (As stated under Building Regulation 2021 Schedule 1 Clause 4.)
  12. Erecting a tent with a floor area less than 500m2.
  13. The installation of any of the following items. (Within a Budget Accommodation Building built, approved, or applied for, before 1 January 1992.)
    1. Smoke Alarms.
    2. Smoke Detection systems. (Unless the system is an AS1670 system required for installation under the Fire Safety Standard.)
    3. Internally illuminated exit signs.
    4. Portable fire extinguishers.

Step 4: Does my work classify as building work?

Building Work must comply with the Building Assessment Provisions and always need a Building Approval.

Most work will fall into this category.

What are 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 works mentioned above. Or such that the extent will adversely affect the building or structure’s stability. Either on-site or on the adjoining site.)
  3. Supporting land for activities mentioned in item 1.
  4. Other regulated work under the building assessment provisions.

 
All information contained herein is general. Therefore, we recommend you consult with a registered building practitioner to understand your unique requirements. In addition to any applicable state or national regulations, legislation, codes or guidelines before commencing any Building Works.

Consult a building practitioner

Get in touch with our Building Surveying Team to understand your unique requirements prior to commencing any building works.

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