What is the difference between a planning and building permit?




Harriet Lammin

Understanding the difference between a planning permit and a building permit is extremely important during the planning process. The type of build project you’re looking to undertake will determine your permit process, including whether or not you need approval before commencing construction. 

The planning permit and building permit systems operate under separate legislation, although they are often related and interdependent on each other. 

Town Planning Permit 

A planning permit is a legal document that gives permission for the use of or development of a particular site, along with a set of conditions related to that use or development. The Planning Scheme sets out the rules related to the land in each Council municipality, which determines what the land can be used for and the restrictions that apply to it. 

Planning permits are usually required for works on a commercial property or to develop a site with two or more dwellings. Usually, building or renovating a home does not require a planning permit, although it is important to confirm this with your local Council. In some circumstances, it may be necessary to acquire a planning permit for a standard build or renovation. Our blog ‘The Ins and Outs of Town Planning’ delves into this in further detail. 

An application for a town planning permit must be accompanied by a set of drawings that describe how the land will be used. This includes the layout of buildings, access roads, car parking and landscape features, as well as the height and appearance of the buildings plus the proposed external materials and colours. 

Engineering and construction details are not required at this stage of the permit process as the local Council does not assess these requirements against the planning controls. 

Building Permit 

A building permit is required for most new developments including new buildings, alterations and additions. Building permits are usually issued by a private building surveyor rather than the local council, whose role is to determine whether the new development complies with the requirements of the Building Code. In some cases, a planning permit may be required before an application for a building permit can be made. However, when beginning a new construction project, it is safe to assume that a building permit will be required even if a planning permit is not. 

In order to apply for a building permit, an architect or other building design professional will be required to prepare a set of detailed drawings. These drawings must describe the method of construction and specify how the building will comply with the building code of Australia. A structural design prepared by a structural engineer will also be required, along with certification and computations that ensure the design complies with the Australian Standards.

These documents are very different to the type of drawings that must be submitted to obtain a planning permit. An application for a building permit will need to be prepared by a registered professional with an understanding of the Building Code of Australia. 

Your appointed building surveyor will then assess the documentation and advise whether any further approvals are needed. These may include siting variations, approvals from water authorities or more. A building surveyor is also involved during construction, carrying out inspections of the work at critical stages to ensure it is completed in accordance with building codes. 

The town planning and building permit process requires a clear assessment of the applicable controls and regulations, along with a rational analysis of how they impact a project. To streamline the approval process for your new build design, work with trusted professionals who understand the complexities and opportunities of your development based on deep local knowledge and experience. 

Specialised architectural design experts 

At JDA Lammin we have the knowledge, skills, networks and experience to move your project forward through the town planning and building permit process. Once approved, we will see your project through to completion. 

We understand local Councils and the full range of possibilities and constraints associated with these councils. We are experts in working with local specialists and help our clients achieve all their objectives. 

We can assist you with recommendations for suitable building surveyors, structural engineers or other building consultants. We can also coordinate/manage their input to ensure that information is seamlessly integrated. 

We know that building and designing a new home or development project is a big decision. We aim to guide you through each stage and provide you with the information you need to be fully informed at every step. 

If you have questions, please phone us on 0439991887 or email me, Harriet Lammin at [email protected].