Building without Council Approval

Building permits for sheds & obtaining a building permit

By Russell Baker


For myself, I’d suggest we take a lot of things for granted in Australia – with large geographical challenges, we have an excellent road network, overzealous policing & emergency services that service the width & breadth of the continent.  

We wouldn’t hesitate to criticise the government if the Sydney Harbour Bridge cracked up & collapsed or call the council if our neighbour started running his 7 day/ week, 24hr panel beating workshop from his large back shed which was only metres from our bedroom… 

Aussie made farm sheds

What we have in Australia is a 3-tiered system of government & in relation to the construction industry, some of the strictest regulations in the world.  This can be onerous & compliance costly at times, but the advantages & peace of mind that we enjoy because of it, is part of what makes Australia still the “lucky country”.

So why do I have to go to council & fill in all these forms & pay the %$!#$!% council all these planning permit fees & building permit fees to build my machinery shed?  The reason is because there are planning & building regulations which apply to most building projects – the BCA (Building Code of Australia} & local government’s planning schemes which are in place for every part of Victoria, NSW & SA… & we are lucky to have them.



So, what’s stopping me going & putting up a hay shed out here at the back of beyond – nobody will ever know!!! 

I spoke to a past client recently about what they did to build a shed & he had just received some nasty letters from his local council.  If you do build without council approvals, council will request you demolish / remove the structure.  They may also fine you & the builder!  It may not happen straight away, but unexpectedly, once council finds out about an illegal building, you will hear from them! 

Our advice is to get your building approved…  If it is built already without approvals, you can still get certification & approvals post-build.  It will take more cost, time & effort, but there are companies that will help you work through this.

In Victoria, there are 2 main parts to the permits – No.1 a planning permit which covers where we build, the visual aspects of the building, the purpose & how it will affect external infrastructure, eg. roads, sewer, stormwater & any effect on neighbours.  Sometimes for simple projects, within specific parameters, a Vicsmart planning permit may be able to be used which is cheaper and council is obligated to approve or otherwise within 10 business days.  

No.2 is the building permit which addresses how the structure is engineered & how it meets the BCA – Building Code of Australia.  This also covers fire safety & environmental aspects. Building permits in Victoria are administered through building surveyors – most councils employ a building surveyor for this, but these days most building permits are through private building surveyors who operate from their own businesses.

Many farm sheds in rural areas can be built without a planning permit – a simple check of the property can determine this – contact Entegra, your local council or a private planner, if you need help with this.  At Entegra, we pride ourselves in helping you through these processes – our focus is to make the process easy for you so your focus can be on what you do best – farming!! 

Thanks for taking the time to read this blog & don’t hesitate to contact me via 1300 296 206 with any questions or comments – I would welcome it! I like to hear about experiences of building practitioners, owner builders, whether that be for a shed or garage. The main point is that a building permit is required for your next shed build and at Entegra we have a suite of services to do all the work for you.

Russell Baker – Entegra Signature Structures

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