A number of homeowners make the decision to improve their homes through the addition of a new construction, such as a new carport or verandah. The question that often arises is: “Do I need a building permit for a carport?” It is an important question to ask and it is equally as important to seek credible, professional advice or undertake your own thorough research so that you understand whether a permit is required and the types of regulations with which you need to comply.
What are building permits?
The Building Act (1993) and Building Regulations (1994) stipulate by law that before building work can commence on many projects, a building permit needs to be issued.
Building Regulations are the written laws to which the building industry must adhere. Essentially, they are in place to protect and benefit occupants and their investments and are strictly enforced to guarantee:
- Structural efficiency
- The safety of occupants
- Protection of adjoining properties
- An equal or better level of fire safety
Regulations are underpinned by safe building practices and apply to all sorts of built structures. Under the Building Act (1993), a penalty of 100 points (or $10,000) can be issued to a person who undertakes building work without a building permit.
What if the building work to be undertaken is minor in nature (such as a carport)?
It is sometimes the case that the building work that is proposed is of a minor nature. The Building Regulations acknowledge that, in some circumstances, the particular protection and benefits that are made available through a building permit are not necessary or will not be achieved. It is therefore true that, in particular cases, property owners will not have to obtain a building permit under the Building Regulations.
In Victoria, for example, one example of the type of building work that does not require a building permit is: a “Freestanding carport costing less than $5000.”
And, in some parts of the country, a building permit is not required for a carport as long as the proposed carport is:
- Has a floor area of less than 10 square metres
- Is less than three metres high
- Is not constructed of masonry
- Is not located further forward on the allotment than the street setback allowed
However, variations and different rules can exist from state to state and council to council — in other jurisdictions all carports require a building permit no matter what the total expense of the project and whether or not they are attached to a dwelling.
Ultimately, the property owner has the responsibility of investigating whether a building permit is required for the carport proposed and to ensure that the appropriate permit is in place in advance of construction beginning. Similarly, if a building permit is found not to be required, it is the responsibility of the property owner to guarantee that the carport proposed is exempt from requiring a building permit under the Building Regulations.
No matter whether or not a building permit is necessary, all building works that are undertaken have to be compliant with the Building Act 1993, Building Regulations 2006, Building Code of Australia and all relevant Australian Standards. Property owners should also be mindful of the fact that even if a building permit is not found to be required, other approvals may be necessary from councils (these approvals may relate to town planning, health departments and local laws).
Because requirements are not consistent across Australia, there is unfortunately no simple answer to the question of whether a building permit is required for the construction of a carport. The best advice that can be conveyed to property owners is to ensure that they understand requirements in their locality and seek professional advice to determine whether a building permit is needed and, in the event that it is, the appropriate permit is issued prior to work commencing.