Building approval

Building approval is required for most developments to ensure building complies with building laws, including the Building Code of Australia. Building approval is usually obtained after we have given development approval. However, there are some exemptions to development approval and/or building approval. Building approval must be sought before construction begins.

Get building approval

To get building approval:

The forms to complete are in the building approval information pack. You need to give the certifier properly prepared plans that show the work that will be done.

The fees paid to the ACT Government for work requiring building approval are:

  • a building levy, required for all plans that your certifier certifies;
  • a training levy, required if the work has a value greater than $10,000; and
  • a Workcover workplace safety fee, required for all commercial construction and sometimes for residential construction.

Your certifier will calculate these using the Building Cost Guide and the Fees and charges booklet (accessible HTML version). You can pay these fees at the Customer Service Centres in Dickson or Mitchell, by calling Access Canberra on 13 22 81 or online via the Access Canberra website.

Before work begins, the person licensed to build needs to apply to your certifier for a commencement notice and you or your appointed agent need to sign this application. The work can start once your certifier has issued the commencement notice, provided work has not been prohibited by law.

Most builders will subcontract electricians, plumbers, carpenters, bricklayers and other trades during construction. The builder is required to ensure that any persons engaged are appropriately skilled and, if required, are licensed.

Get plumbing approval

During construction, you may have plumbing work completed. For some plumbing work, you will need to employ a licensed plumbing plan certifier to approve the plumbing plan.

Conditions of building

You and the professionals you employ need to be mindful of:

  • any conditions that we set in the notice of decision we sent you advising of your development approval
  • any lease conditions
  • the requirements of the building approval (if any).

These conditions govern everything you can build or do on your land. An example condition is that for certain residential leases in new suburbs, construction must start within 12 months of the date of development approval and must be completed within 24 months.

During construction

A number of notifications and inspections may need to be made during construction. This helps to ensure the work is carried out to the required standards before you can apply to us be issued a certificate that allows you to have legal occupancy or use of the building.

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