Home Building and Construction Regulation Bodies in Australia

Construction in Australia is regulated by the Australian Building and Construction Commissioner (ABCC) who chairs the Australian Building Codes Board. The Australian Building Codes Board is a joint initiative of all levels of government in Australia in order to regulate workplace relations, design and construction regulations.

The National Construction Code

In 2008 the Council of Australian Governments (COAG) developed the National Construction Code to pull a complicated series of regulations together, placing building and plumbing, into a uniform arrangement.

The new NCC covers building, plumbing, electrical, and telecommunications standards. The NCC was welcomed by industry as it linked building and plumbing regulations under one set of laws for the first time. It helped halt the devolution of building laws in the direction of local municipal councils. The National Code has been in place since 2011, adopted by all States and Territories, and includes plumbing and drainage regulations.

The Industry Welcomes the NCC

Historically, different State and Territory governments regulated building, as the Australian Constitution does not give National Government power to household and commercial building projects. Over time, States and Territories drew laws deriving from National regulations, and particularly the Building Code of Australia (BCA). It became clear that a more cohesive approach was needed, due to wide variations between State and Territory government laws.

Building Commissions Change to Building Authorities in 2013

Each State or Territory of Australia has its own building commission. In 2013, each regulator plans to replace these with a building authority. This is so that all aspects of building regulation can be administered by one government body in each area of the country. Individual State and Territory Laws mean many different bodies to apply to for construction permissions. This is now widely accepted as unworkable, as many construction companies across geographical regions of Australia, are not limiting their business expansion to one State or Territory.

A good example is the State of Victoria, where The Victorian Building Authority will replace the Victorian Building Commission, the Plumbing Industry Commission and the Architects Registration Board of Victoria. Each State and Territory is going through the process of transferring all regulators into a single Building Authority. This is designed to reflect that the National Construction Code is one law, for all to administer building, plumbing and construction under. This will make applications for construction much easier to administer and obtain, which is good for business.

Applying for a Construction Permission in Australia

To check if your project requires a Building Permit, contact the Building Authority website in the State or Territory you need it from. At the moment, some areas are still under the existing Building Commissions. Check the most up to date information on the internet about who to contact, as there is a period of changeover where both bodies will be able to help you.

Owner Builder Work

As a prerequisite to obtaining a building permit from the Building Commission or Authority, many doing construction or alterations to existing dwellings need to be a registered owner-builder. Currently, each State and Territory has a regulatory body, or bodies, administering permits for this, or related matters. It is important if you are managing a build, you check your contractors, and subcontractors, and specialists on site are registered correctly. You will need:

New South Wales – Owner Builder's Permit from Fair Trading Centre or Service NSW.

Victoria – Building Practitioners Board consent and Building Authority permit needed (only for work over $12,000).

Western Australia – An Owner-Builder Statement, and promise not to resell within 3 years, from the WA Building Commission.

South Australia – Local Council Development Approval issued after a Development Plan Consent and Building Rules Consent, obtained from the SA Building Commission. Owner-builders do not need a permit in SA. They need to pay the SA Government Construction Industry Training Levy (only for work over $15,000).

Tasmania – Owner Builder's Permit from the Building Commission.

Queensland – Owner Builder's Permit from Queensland Building Services.

Northern Territory – Owner Builder's License from the NT Government – White Card.

Australian Capital Territory – Owner Builder's License from the ACT Government – White Card.

Working with Contractors and Sub-Contractors including Trade Specialists in Australia

It is worth noting that while you don't have to have any formal trade qualifications to be an owner builder, specialist work - e.g. plumbing, gas fitting and electrical work, must be completed by a licensed professional. Each State or Territory grants its own trading or service licenses. The license is not valid outside that State or Territory.

Australian Insurance Regulation Requirements for Construction and Home Renovations

Across Australia appropriate insurance must be obtained to gain any building permit successfully. These insurance requirements are Public Liability and Workers Compensation Insurance. If you are improving the house in order to sell it, you will have to obtain a Housing Indemnity Insurance policy. There are some regional variations here. For example in the Northern Territory you need Owner Builder's Insurance. Always check with the Building Authority about what you need before you start permit applications.

With the introduction of Building Authorities by State and Territory from 2013 onwards, the industry can look forward to a one-stop-shop approach to obtaining building permits and permissions.

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