Permits for Sheds: What you need to know now

Are you about to build a shed? Here’s what you need to know about your shed building permit requirements.

When planning on building a shed, garage or similar construction in Victoria, consumers need to be aware of their planning and building permit requirements.

This is true for a domestic garage, as it is for a hay shed or a horse arena.

Simply being uniformed can lead to a number of pitfalls that could be expensive.

You may choose the hassle-free option of enlisting the services of your builder or a professional permit facilitator to manage the whole process.

However, if you’re looking to save money you need to do your research.   We’ve outlined following some key questions and points you need to be familiar with.

Why do I even need permits for a shed?

Building guidelines have been created by governments to ensure the health, safety and structural integrity of a building.

It’s to ensure that a building is in line with all legislation, considers environmental and planning regulations and builders are registered and offer adequate insurance.

What happens if I don’t obtain the relevant permits for my shed?

You could receive significant fines.

What is the difference between a building permit and a planning permit?

A building permit is legal permission to carry out building construction of any sort.

It’s a document issued by a building surveyor (either from your local council or a private surveyor) who is qualified to approve your plans and documents.

A planning permit provides permission to develop or use land for a particular purpose.

Will I need a planning permit to build my shed?

While a planning permit is not always necessary, each council has its own planning scheme, so requirements vary according to your location.   Some councils do stipulate you need a planning permit for even minor changes.

It’s your responsibility to find out whether a permit is required before you develop or change the land.

If a planning permit is required, you need to obtain it before or at the same time, as applying for your building permit.

Will I need a building permit for a shed?

Most sheds and garages require a building permit.

According to the Practice Note 2016-32 issued January 2016, the Building Act 1993 does exempt freestanding Class 10a buildings – (i.e. shed, carport or garage) – from requiring building permits if:

  • it has a floor area not exceeding 10m2
  • it’s no more than 3m in height or no more than 2.4m in height within 1 metre of boundary
  • it’s belonging to a building of another class on the same allotment
  • it’s located no further forward on the allotment than the front wall of the building to which it belongs
  • it’s not constructed of masonry.

Once again, we recommend you contact your local council’s Town Planning Department to discuss your requirements

How do I apply for the building permit for my shed?

To apply for a building permit, you need to enlist the services of a building surveyor.  The building surveyor may either be a private provider or from the council.

Your shed builder can also apply for permits on your behalf, but you must provide written authorisation to do so.

How much do building permits cost?

Costs for building permits varying amongst councils.   There is a building permit levy that is forwarded to the Victorian Building Authority.

What do I need to submit to obtain a building permit?

You will need to complete the application process/form specified by your local councils.  Generally, you will also need to submit at least 3 copies of drawings, specifications and allotment plans.

Do I need to use a registered builder?

You can either register as an owner-builder or hire a builder to construct your shed.

When hiring a builder, if the building work (including supply and installation) costs more than $10,000 you’re required to use a registered builder. You will also need to enter into a major domestic building contract with the registered practitioner.

Also, if the cost of the work exceeds $16,000 (this includes labour and materials) your builder is required to provide domestic building insurance.

What about if I am Owner Builder?

If you’re an owner builder you must adhere to obligations under the Building Act 1993 and Building Interim Regulations 2017. This relates particularly when selling your property.

The Victoria Building Authority states:

  • if an owner-built shed or garage is sold within six and half years of the domestic building work being completed (i.e. from the date of your occupancy permit or certificate of final inspection), a defects report by a prescribed building practitioner is required.
  • Warranty Insurance may also be required if the shed or garage is sold within six years of the completion of building work.

Again, if the cost of the work exceeds $16,000 the owner-builder is also required to provide domestic building insurance.

Is there any other providers or tradesmen I need to use?

Yes.  Regardless of scale of work, you’ll need to enlist the services of a licensed or registered plumber.

The plumber will need to carry out the installation of roof sheeting, flashings, guttering, downpipes or other regulated plumbing work on a shed.

A compliance certificate is also required from a licensed plumbing practitioner if the cost of the plumbing work exceeds $750.

How long does my building permit last?

Your building permit will specify the required commencement and completion dates for your shed.

For instance, building works relating to outbuildings may be required to commence within 12 months of issue of the building permit and be completed within 24 months.   

Note:  If a building permit lapses prior to work being complete, the work is then considered legal.  The building surveyor will issue a stop works order.

So, be sure to make a note of all dates once you’ve obtained your building permit.

What should I do if my building permit lapses prior to work being completed?

You will need to apply to the relevant building surveyor for an extension of the building permit prior to the permit lapsing.

If you do not apply to this deadline, you will need to apply for another building permit.

The shed has been built.  Now what?

You may need a certificate of final inspection.  This’ll be indicated on your building inspection.

Any last recommendations?

If you’re managing the process, we highly recommend you first contact your local council’s town permit department to determine your exact requirements

If you prefer the hassle free option, engage the services of your builder or a permit facilitator to manage the process.

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