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Where to start with building work

The specific requirements for the building work will depend on the size and nature of the work, however generally the following will need to be undertaken:

1) Talk to a builder/designer about any restrictions or construction requirements that may be appropriate to your building work;

2) Secure the services of the appropriate professionals to design your project and draw construction plans (dependant on the nature of the work you may require the services of a building designer or architect, truss/wall frame manufacturer, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland, Soil Tester, Energy Efficiency Assessor, Bushfire Management Consultant, Geotechnical Engineer etc.)

3) Engage the services of a builder to construct the work.

What building work means

Most building and renovation work of a structural nature requires building approval (land use planning or development approval).

Development is when building work, plumbing or drainage work, operational work, reconfiguration of a block or making a material change of use of premises is carried out. In many cases, you will be required to submit a development, building or plumbing form to council for assessment.

How does Council assess your development application?  We are governed by the Planning Act 2016 (opens in new window), therefore you can be assured that everyone is treated equally and fairly.

Carrying out building work means:

  • Building
  • Repairing
  • Altering
  • Underpinning (whether by vertical or lateral support)
  • Moving or demolishing a building or structure
  • Excavating or filling (relating to the construction of a building)

 

Development approval for building works

When is a development approval for building works required?

A development approval for building work (known as a building approval) is required before carrying our most types of building work. The approval process involves assessment by a Building Certifier against the Building Act 1975 and associated regulation and standards, the issuing of a decision notice and subsequently carrying out inspections to ensure compliance.

Some minor building works may not require a building permit. If you would like to know whether a building approval is required, please contact Council on 131 872 or a Private Building Certifier.

What is self-assessable development?

Some minor building work is self-assessable as specified under Building Regulation 2006, Schedule 1. While a building approval is not required for self-assessable development, the owner is responsible for ensuring the works comply with any applicable standards, such as Building Code of AustraliaQueensland Development Codes, the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme (the planning scheme) and Local Laws.

Examples of self-assessable building work include:

  • Class 10 buildings and Structures up to 10m² in area and under 2.4m in height with the mean height not exceeding 2.1m with no side greater than 5m. For example, a small tool shed, fowl house, lawn locker, unroofed deck (where the floor is not higher than 1m above natural ground level), a greenhouse or the like; and
  • A fence and/or retaining wall not more than 2m in height, above natural ground level. This does not include swimming pool fencing or where the retaining wall itself is more than 1m in height.
  • Signs detached from a building, not higher than 2m and no wider than 1.2m.

What is exempt development?

Some building work is prescribed as exempt development by the Planning Act 2016 and detailed under Building Regulation 2006, Schedule 2 and does not require a building approval. Owners are responsible for compliance and should make enquiries with Council before starting any work.

Exempt building work applies to minor structures and includes:

  • Attaching sunhoods to an existing building, if each sunhood is less than 2m²
  • Special structures and playground equipment that are no more than 3m above their natural ground surface such as sporting equipment, garden furniture, temporary market stalls, minor plant and equipment covers (they however must be under 10m²)
  • Erecting tents only if the tent's floor area is not more than 100m²

Further information

For further specific information on building work, please contact the Building & Compliance Branch on 131 872 or visit your nearest Customer Service Centre.

Disclaimer

The information contained in this article is a guide only.This information has been prepared by Toowoomba Regional Council to help people gain an understanding of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme and Building Regulations.  Please consult the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme for detailed information including maps (zones, local plans, overlays and priority infrastructure plan), provisions and policies. The content of this information sheet is not intended to replace the provisions of the Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme and Building Regulations.

When did private certification commence?

Private certification commenced in April 1998, prior to this date all building applications were assessed by the relevant local authority.

What is a building certifier?

A building certifier may be employed by Council, or as a private certifier.  Both carry out the same functions; however a private building certifier is a certifier who works independently and has an endorsement to act as a private certifier. A private certifier can issue approvals in any local authority in Queensland.  

What is the role of a building certifier?

A building certifier is responsible for assessing building application for proposed building work to ensure that it complies with all relevant provisions of the Building Act 1975 and the Building Code of Australia.

The building certifier who issued the building approval (Decision Notice) must also carry out certain inspections to ensure that the building work complies with the approval.

While a building certifier can provide general advice about the potential compliance of a building project, they are not permitted to design the building or carry out any of the work. Therefore, specialist advice on building applications should be sought from the appropriate design professionals.

What approvals can a building certifier issue?

A building certifier can only issue a building approval. However, as part of the assessment process, you may be notified by your building certifier that you are required to obtain other approvals/assessments from Council or other State Government authorities.  

If this is the case, all relevant approvals/assessments must be obtained before a building approval can be issued.

Do building certifiers/private certifiers need to be licensed?

Yes. All certifiers operating in Queensland are required to be licensed with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) and are required to be accredited by an accrediting body such as Australian Institute of Building Surveyors (AIBS) www.aibs.com.au or Royal Institute of Chartered (RICS) Surveyors www.rics.org.

You may verify that a building certifier is appropriately licensed by carrying out an online search at the QBCC Website:  www.qbcc.qld.gov.au or by telephone on 1300 272 272.  

Is there a code of conduct for building certifiers?

Yes. All accredited certifiers are bound by a strict code of conduct, and have an obligation to always act in the public interest. Severe penalties can apply if they fail in their duties. The QBCC carries out audits of building certifiers work and investigates complaints and may take disciplinary action.  Any person may lodge a complaint with the QBCC against the action of a building certifier.

Does the building certifier supervise the quality of the work?

No. The primary function of the certifier’s inspections is to confirm that the construction work complies with the approved plans and relevant building standards.  The inspection will be carried out at pre-determined stages i.e. footings, slab, frame and final.

It is the responsibility of the contractor and owner, working together, to ensure that the building work is carried out to an acceptable standard of quality and finish.  Some owners may engage their architect or designer to supervise these aspects of the work.

At what stages of the development is a building inspection required to be carried out by a certifier?

The building certifier (or their company) who issued the approval is responsible for carrying out inspections at various stages. When a building approval is given, a condition of approval will be that certain mandatory inspections must be carried out.  

Once the building work reaches a stage where the work can be inspected, the builder must give the building certifier a notice, whether in writing or by other means, advising that building work has been carried out to a stage when an inspection can take place. The purpose of the inspections is to ensure that the building work is carried out in accordance with the approval and relevant standards. For clarification in regards to inspections, contact your certifier.

In accordance with the building approval documentation, a certifier is required to inspect building work during stages of construction. For clarification in regards to inspections, contact your certifier. 

Certifiers may carry out inspections personally, or may authorise a competent person to carry them out.  For example, the certifier may authorise an engineer who is experienced in the inspection of concrete structures to carry out a particular inspection instead of doing the inspection personally. The certifier is responsible for determining whether a person is competent to carry out particular inspection, and must do this prior to the inspection.

Certifiers often rely upon competent persons to inspect and certify aspects of work.

The certifier (not the RPEQ) is the only person who can give permission to continue building work (including pouring of concrete). The builder cannot continue to the next stage of building work until a 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate' for the relevant stage has been issued by the certifier.

In accordance with the legislation, failure to comply with the inspection process can result in the following:

  • The certifier being unable to issue 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate' for a particular stage and a 'Form 21 - Final Inspection Certificate' on completion of building work.
  • Reporting any breaches of legislation to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission.

Definitions surrounding building work inspections

Stage = a stage of work at which the development approval states the work must be inspected.

Aspect = a component of a stage.

Footing/excavation stage

The inspection should take place after the excavation of foundation material and before the footings for the building are laid. This stage comprises two aspects:

1. Site preparation aspect:

  • Certifier - confirms the set out of the structure/building work and site earthworks.
  • Cadastral land surveyor to complete a 'Form 16 – Inspection/Aspect Certificate' and submit to Council as soon as possible after undertaking the inspection.

Note:  If the Certifier is undertaking the footing or footing/slab inspections, then this site preparation inspection would be carried out simultaneously.

2. Footing/excavation and placement of steel aspect:

  • Certifier – the certifier will undertake this inspection completing written documentation
  • Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ) to fill in 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate/Aspect Certificate' and submit to the certifier as soon as possible after undertaking the inspection.

Slab stage

If the building is to have a slab  this inspections should take place after the placement of formwork and steel for the slab, but before the concrete for the slab is poured. It comprises two aspects:

1. Placement of steel aspect:

  • Certifier – will undertake this inspection completing written documentation.
  • RPEQ will complete a 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate/Aspect Certificate' and submit to the certifier as soon as possible after undertaking the inspection.

Termite management aspect (slab penetrations):

  • A qualified pest controller must carry out this aspect and issue a QBCC aspect certificate (Form 16) to the certifier.

Frame Stage

This inspection should take place when:

  • the bracing for the frame of the building consists of cladding or lining – after the cladding or lining has been fixed to the frame; and
  • the bracing for the frame of the building does not consist of cladding or lining – before the cladding or lining has been fixed to the frame; and if reinforced masonry construction is used for the frame of the building – before the wall cavities are filled.

1. Structural aspect

This inspection can be performed by the certifier (preferably) or a RPEQ as a competent person.

  • Certifier – will undertake this inspection completing written documentation.
  • RPEQ – will complete a 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate/Aspect Certificate' and submit to the certifier as soon as possible after undertaking the inspection.

If an RPEQ performs the inspection, and issues an inspection certificate for the frame stage, the certificate must cover ALL aspects of the stage (i.e. the engineer must certify that correct wall insulation has been installed.) 

Fire separation stage (as applicable)

This inspection should take place prior to lining of walls, prior to core filling of concrete and after construction of fire resistance materials/method:

1. Structural aspect

This inspection can be performed by the certifier (preferably) or a person with accreditation in fire safety installation who is approved (prior to undertaking the inspection) as a competent person by the certifier (contact certifier for their requirements).

  • Certifier – will undertake this inspection completing written documentation.  The certifier must inspect all fire-resisting construction and issue a 'Form 16 - Inspection Certificate'.
  • Competent person to complete a 'Form 16 – Inspection Certificate/Aspect Certificate' and submit to the certifier as soon as possible after undertaking the inspection. 

If a competent person performs the inspection, and issues an inspection certificate for the frame stage, the certificate must cover ALL aspects of the stage (i.e. all fire-resisting construction).

Final stage

At the completion of all aspects of the work the following inspection needs to be carried out. 

1. Structural aspect:

This inspection can only be performed by a certifier.

Additional aspect or inspection certificates

Following the inspection, there may be additional aspect or inspection certificates required by the certifier to be submitted on completion of building works in accordance with your approval. For example:

  • Glass/window  – from the installer – Form 16 – Aspect – QBCC Licensee
  • Shower screens – from the installer – Form 16 – Aspect – QBCC Licensee
  • Termite perimeter – from the installer – Form 16  – Aspect – QBCC Licensee
  • Waterproofing – from the installer – Form 16  – Aspect – QBCC Licensee
  • Insulation – from the installer – Form 16 – Aspect – QBCC Licensee or Competent Person
  • Mechanical ventilation – specification to be submitted
  • Surveyors – from the surveyor – Form 16  – Aspect – Competent Person
  • Smoke alarms – electrician – Form 16 – Aspect – Competent Person.

Following compliance of the final stage and acceptance of certificates, the certifier will issue a 'Form 21 – Final Inspection Certificate'.

In addition to these building inspections, there may also be mandatory plumbing and drainage inspections.

Can I be an owner-builder on my building work?

Yes.  It is a requirement under the QBCC that if you wish to perform or co-ordinate building work on your own property valued at $11,000 or more (i.e. value of work inclusive of labour, materials and GST) you are required to obtain an Owner-Builders permit from the QBCC.  

By becoming an owner-builder you forfeit your right to QBCC insurance on the building work.  QBCC insurance protects consumers who have a contract with an appropriately licensed contractor to perform residential building work.  Where a licensed contractor is engaged to perform work having a value of $3,300 or more they are required to pay the appropriate insurance premium to the QBCC.

For more information access QBCC online at www.qbcc.qld.gov.au 

What is my role as an owner-builder?

Your role is that of head or main contractor and you will be personally responsible for dealing with individual subcontractors.  This includes the resolution of disputes with subcontractors and monitoring the quality of workmanship.

By contrast, if you engage an appropriately licensed contractor for the project, you deal directly with the contractor – they then hold the responsibility of dealing with subcontractors – and if they fail to correct a defect you are able to use the dispute resolution services of QBCC and may be able to claim compensation for defects.  This service is not available to owner-builders.

What does QBCC insurance cover if I sign a contract for a licensed builder to undertake the building work?

The insurance cover taken by the licensed builder assists consumers in cases where:

  • The contactor fails to complete the building work for reasons that are not the consumers fault
  • The contractor fails to rectify defective work
  • The building suffers from the effects of subsidence or settlement.

Who is responsible if a mistake occurs?

The building contractor has statutory and contractual obligations regarding the approval and inspection process however, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for ensuring a building approval has been issued, and any mandatory inspections are carried out.

Some builders offer a complete design, approval, and construction package.  If the builder is to arrange for the building approval and inspections, the owner should discuss and agree on these certification arrangements with the builder, and record details of the agreement in the contract.  

The builder must, on behalf of the owner, comply with any lawful requirement relating to the building work.  However, whilst the property owner may have recourse under the contract against the builder, the owner is still responsible for having the building work brought into compliance with all relevant legislation.

Which party meets the cost of rectification will depend on the reason for the mistake: it may have been borne by more than one of the parties.  Where difficulty is experienced in determining which party is to meet the cost, dispute resolution facilities are available through the QBCC.

As an owner, how do I deal with building work constructed without an approval?

Sometimes the work may have been constructed without the necessary approvals and in order to validate the work for the purposes of selling the property or lodging additional application, a building work approval has to be obtained retrospectively.

In this situation, the process becomes much more complicated:

  • You cannot become an owner-builder (obtain a license if the work is over $11,000) for this type of work because the QBCC does not issue owner builders permits retrospectively
  • You may be excluded from protection under your home owner insurance policy should an accident take place
  • The construction work will not be covered under the QBCC Insurance Scheme for faulty work
  • In order to have work inspected, you may be required to remove wall sheeting, external cladding, ceiling linings and roof cladding.
  • It may be difficult to finalise the building approval, if some components can’t be inspection or compliance achieved e.g. footings and slab, retaining wall and the like where work is hidden and cannot be observed by the Building Certifier or an Engineer
  • If the work cannot be approved, you may be required to demolish or remove the work.

Responsibility for building mistakes

The building contractor has statutory and contractual obligations regarding the building approval and inspection process, however, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for ensuring a building approval has been issued and that any mandatory inspections are carried out. Some builders offer a complete design, approval and construction package.

If the builder is to arrange the building approval and inspections, the owner should first discuss and agree on these certification arrangements with the builder and record details of the agreement in the contract.

The builder must, on behalf of the owner, comply with any lawful requirement relating to the building work. However, while the property owner may have recourse under the contract against the builder, the owner is still responsible for having the building work brought into compliance with all relevant legislation. The party that meets the cost of rectification will depend on the reason for the mistake, as it may have been borne by more than one of the parties. Where difficulty is experienced in determining which party is to meet the cost, dispute resolution facilities are available through the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).

Related link

QBCC website

Defective building work or building disputes

For defective building work or building disputes contact the QBCC. The QBCC is a statutory authority established under the Queensland Building and Construction Commission Act 1991.

The object of the Act is to:

  • ensure the maintenance of proper standards in the industry.
  • achieve a reasonable balance between the interests of building contractors and consumers.
  • provide remedies for defective building work.
  • provide for the efficient resolution of building disputes.
  • provide support, education and advice for consumers and those who undertake building work.

What to do if unhappy with your builders work

It is recommended that you firstly discuss the matter with your builder. If you are not satisfied with the outcome you can lodge a grievance with the QBCC. Contact the QBCC by telephone on 139 333 or through the QBCC website.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) decides disputes related to building activities including:

Contact the QCAT by telephone on 1300 753 228 or through the website.

Handling asbestos

Only a licensed contractor should remove or break materials that could possibly contain asbestos fibres. If you suspect an area has asbestos dust, do not disturb it. Contact a licensed contractor: they are listed in the Yellow Pages under 'asbestos removal and services'.

For more information about where asbestos can be disposed, please refer to our hazardous waste article.

Other resources

Queensland Government Department of Justice and Attorney-General website

Last Updated: Wednesday, 09 January 2019 11:10
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