Unauthorised works

In general, a person must not carry out works without the relevant approvals and permits where one is required.

The City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 3 applies to residential, commercial and industrial zoned land. It prescribes development controls for all land uses and suitable locations / zones in order to protect the amenity of those areas.  Land uses conducted where not permitted or without approval from the City, can cause considerable problems for the community.  

Approval that is required after an unauthorised structure has been completed is referred to as retrospective approval. This retrospective approval process may help those who are buying or selling a property that has an unauthorised structure.

Things to consider

  • Unauthorised development works

    If you're unsure whether a structure or land use is permitted in a specific location, the City provides general advice, but is not a consulting service.  Where you have a concern about unapproved structures or land uses, it is the landowner’s responsibility to seek professional advice from a town planning consultant.

    Unauthorised building works

    The Building Act 2011 allows a person to make an application to the relevant permit authority to approve unauthorised building work, in relation to a building and/or incidental structure:

    • ​Residential properties - Class 1 and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures:

    A person may apply under s. 51(3) of the Building Act for a ‘building approval certificate’ for a building or an incidental structure in respect of which unauthorised work has been done. Applicants should use complete an Application for Building Approval (BA13). This type of application would also apply to a Class 2 to Class 9 building that does not require an occupancy permit.

    • Commercial properties - Class 2 to Class 9 buildings:

    A person may apply under s. 51(2) of the Building Act for an ‘occupancy permit’ for a building in respect of which unauthorised work has been done. Applicants should use a Application for Occupancy Permit (BA9).

    For more information, please phone our Customer Contact Centre.

  • Development approval

    When development approval is required for unauthorised existing development (structures and land uses), applications must be lodged in accordance with the City’s application requirements.  Accurately drafted plans of the development are required to be submitted as part of this process. 

    Please refer to Develop your property for information on the approval process, application forms, fees and documentation requirements.

    Please note that development approval does not constitute a building approval and you may be required to obtain the necessary building permit, building approval certificate or occupancy permit. 

    Building approval

    When seeking retrospective approval for residential or commercial building work, a registered building surveyor must be engaged to issue a Certificate of Building Compliance (BA18) before an Application for Building Approval (BA13) or an Application for Occupancy Permit (BA9) can be made to the permit authority.

    Please note:

    • The building surveyor must be satisfied that the unauthorised works comply with the building standards applicable at the time of applying for retrospective approval.
    • The building surveyor will need to gather relevant information to be satisfied compliance with applicable building standards has been met.
    • This will usually entail an inspection by the building surveyor, obtaining engineering certification where relevant and all other details to ascertain compliance with applicable building standards.
    • The building surveyor will require plans and specifications that show how the as-constructed building or incidental structure complies with each building standard in accordance with R. 36.

    For more information, please phone our Customer Contact Centre.

    Top tip

    Although a person may seek retrospective approval for unauthorised building work, this does not cancel the offence and a local government may still take legal action under the Building Act, to ensure that the unauthorised building work is approved or removed.

  • Unauthorised development works

    It is an offence pursuant to the Planning and Development Act 2005 to carry out development contrary to the City’s Local Planning Scheme No. 3.  The City considers many factors when investigating unauthorised existing development, including, but not limited to; legal proceedings, the issuing of a direction notice or a planning infringement notice.

    The City’s Compliance Enforcement Policy 2015 details how the City evaluates risk and undertakes enforcement action.

    Unauthorised building works

    Whilst time limits apply under S. 133 of the Building Act in relation to when a prosecution can commence for an offence such as doing building work without a building permit, this does not prevent a permit authority serving a building order at any time to an owner in relation to unauthorised building work.

    A building order may specify what needs to be done regarding a building or incidental structure, such as remedial works or removal of unauthorised works. This is a matter the permit authority will consider on a case by case basis.

    If you are concerned that a building or incidental structure on a property you own or are thinking about purchasing may not have the necessary approval, please phone our Customer Contact Centre to confirm any building approvals that have been granted.

    Prosecution Summaries

    The below link depicts decisions made by the Magistrates Court in relation to Planning, Building and Local Government Act Prosecutions.

    Prosecution Summaries

Did you know?

Obtaining the required approval from the City will also assist during insurance claims made for personal injury, property loss or damage.  Having approved development on your property, that is constructed in accordance with current standards, reduces the risk of failure, civil action from neighbours or further action by the City.

Building surveying

The engagement of a building surveyor for certification services does not guarantee automatic certification. If the building surveyor is not satisfied that compliance has been met, the owner has the option to either:

  • Remove the unauthorised structure
  • Carry out further remedial works that may be required
  • Face the risk of enforcement action by the permit authority.

Any demolition or remedial work may require a permit and should be referred to the relevant permit authority for advice.

Planning and Building Service Request

The City can investigate planning and building service issues: 

  • Business from home
  • Commercial vehicle parking
  • Dangerous or unsafe buildings
  • Overlooking / privacy issues
  • Departure from approved plans
  • Swimming pools / spa barrier
  • Unauthorised structures
  • Unauthorised signage
  • Unauthorised land use
  • Unauthorised cut and/or fill.

To submit a development services planning and building service request, please complete the following form:

Planning and Building Service Request