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What’s the difference between planning and building permits?

Whether you’re considering building a new home, an extension or perhaps a small property development, before you start the process you need to understand about permits. Sure it’s not the sexiest topic in the world, but it’s one that can make the difference between a successful project and one that is doomed by red tape from the start.

First up, do you know the difference between a building and a planning permit?

It’s OK if you don’t because many people get themselves confused when trying to work it out.

What’s a planning permit?

Planning permits are legal documents that provide permission for a land use or development and may be required by your local council. If a planning permit is required, it must be obtained before a building permit can be issued, however, both applications can be made at the same time.

Also, it’s important to realise that a planning permit doesn’t remove the need to obtain a building permit.

Do I need a planning permit?

Well, you’ll need to check with your local council’s town planning office to find out because councils can have differing requirements.

What’s a building permit?

Hopefully now you understand that a planning permit must be issued before a building permit can be.

So, if a planning permit is all about what’s permissible on the site, how is that different to a building permit? Well, building permits relate specifically to the carrying out of building construction or alteration as well as its structural safety and amenity.Breaking into some legal jargon now, a building permit process ensures that any construction or alteration of a structure or building complies with relevant legislation. A building permit can be issued by either a municipal building surveyor through council or a registered private building surveyor and approve projects to proceed. Another key function of a building permit is to ensure that building regulations are followed and that key structural stages of the project are independently inspected.

It’s important to understand that any building permit must be consistent with the requirements of the planning permit, including conditions and endorsed plans, if required. Not all building works require permits so it’s vital to check with the relevant authority to check.

A little more about planning permits

Here’s the thing: planning relates to the use and development of land for a specific proposal. What that means is that a planning permit assesses a proposal against council’s planning scheme and the State’s planning legislation. It also takes into consideration the impact your proposal may have on the site and that of neighbouring land and the environment – i.e. hours of operation, loss of privacy, safety or traffic issues and any impact it may have on surrounding environment such as waterways and landscapes

So a planning permit ensures the proposal or development fits with local and State Government guidelines and gives authorisation for the proposed use or development on particular piece of land.

Again it’s a good idea to check with the relevant planning department to see if a permit is required as it depends on the planning controls that apply to that particular parcel of land.

Hopefully, by now, you have a better idea about the principal differences between planning and building permits.

Of course, if you’re considering building a new home or developing a site, you can always contact us for further information.


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