Top 10 Most Asked Building Approval Questions

Most of our clients have a lot of questions about what is involved in the building approval process.

In order to save you time and to start serving you with professionalism and integrity, we have gathered together answers to the top 10 most asked questions.

  1. Do I need building approval for my retaining wall?

    It depends – if the retaining wall is equal to or greater than 1m tall, and/or it is within 1.5m of another structure, and/or it is supporting a load more than just the natural ground behind it, then yes building approval is required. 

  2. Do I need building approval for my common boundary fence?

    It depends – if the total combined fence height (retaining wall + boundary fence) is greater than 2m then yes building approval is required.

  3. I’ve got town planning approval already, can I start building?

    No. I can give you a two-word answer if you want…

  4. My builder says he has his own building certifier that he uses, do I need to use his building certifier?

    As with everything in life, it’s negotiable. Your builder probably has a preference working with the building certifier he has known for years and they’ve probably done many jobs together and there’s nothing wrong with this. However, there is no legal requirement for you to use your builder’s building certifier. Why are they so chummy anyway?

  5. Do I need an architect to draw up my plans?

    The short answer is “No”, but a good architect can save you a lot of frustration if your site is heavily constrained, and a good draftsperson is worth their weight in gold when you don’t have a good architect on board.   

  6. Do you provide a warranty on your work?

    As building certifiers, our profession is somewhat regulated under the Building Act 1975 (QLD). We play a statutory role so a warranty is not necessary. The Building Act legally requires us to play this role with professionalism, and our role is to ensure your building design conforms to the building code, and that during construction it is built to the minimum requirements of the building code.

    I stress the word “minimum” because it is important to note, that we are not ‘site supervisors’, that role belongs to your builder, so while we can and do inspect the building for code compliance, we cannot inspect everything. If there is a building code non-compliance found in the building after you have moved in, the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) insurance that you paid into is available to you.

    Please note, not all building defects are Building Code non-compliances. Product defects, maintenance defects, general wear and tear, poor workmanship, a freak 1 in a million year event that rips your roof off does not in itself constitute a Building Code non-compliance.   

  7. I’m going to be an owner builder, do I need to pay QBCC insurance?

    No, provided you have obtained your QBCC owner-build permit.

    I just bought a house and discovered that the original building approval was not finalised, what now?

    Ok, so you didn’t do your due diligence at the start, and now you’re stuck with a house that is unlawful… hmmm… pandora’s box… but not the end of the world. In order to finalise the building approval, be prepared for a rollercoaster ride of $$$ spent and time foregone.

    In our industry, this is called “post-construction certification.” Unfortunately once a building is built it is not easy to undertake the necessary inspections without invasive testing to verify that it has been built to code, and that’s not even the major battle. The biggest battle you will have is getting the paperwork in order. Now in some instances, you may be lucky and have a complete record of all the required paperwork e.g. waterproofing certificates, termite certificates, original inspections certificates, truss certificates, etc, but more likely than not you won’t be in this camp, so be prepared is all I’m saying. If you’re in this camp and would like to find out what your options are please contact us.  

  8. My property has 3 dams with no pool fencing, and you’re telling me my swimming pool fence is 1mm too short? are you !#$!ing serious?!?!?!

    Sure am! Try telling that to a judge if the worst case scenario happens… I hear your frustration, but don’t kill the messenger! Unfortunately, we live in a litigious society and when a legal line in the sand is drawn, you better hope you are on the right side of that line when stuff happens…

  9. I want to build a tiny home on wheels, do I need building approval?

    If this movement ever reaches critical mass, and living in a glorified caravan becomes mainstream, it will be the death knell for my profession, and I’ll start looking for other work. The answer is “NO”

  10. How do I find out if the renovations by the previous owner have been certified properly? 

    Contact your local Council and see if you can sweet talk them into divulging the info over the phone. If it doesn’t work, you will need to pay a small fee and submit a search request to Council to dig up the relevant building approval and final inspection documents. If the search returns null, there are two ways to look at it. One – the previous owner built the damn thing without obtaining the proper approval. Two – it’s possible it was built during a time before the Building Act was in force and before Council’s kept any records.