Understanding the Building Approval Process in Western Australia

Building a new home or making alterations to your property is an exciting prospect. 

However, before you let your imagination soar with the possibility of building a new home, it's critical to understand the building approval process in Western Australia (WA). 

Not only is this vital for the safety and legality of your project, but it can also significantly impact your property's future resale value.

Overview of the Building Approval Process in WA

The building approval process in WA ensures that all structures comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and other relevant laws. 

It's a thorough review conducted by the local council or a private certifier to confirm that the planned construction or alteration is safe, legal, and environmentally responsible.

When a Building Permit is Required in WA

A building permit is required for most building works, including new constructions, alterations, extensions, or demolitions. These permits are integral to maintaining the safety and integrity of our built environment. 

As a rule, if your construction project is valued over $20,000 or involves changes to the building's structure, a permit is required.

Do You Need Council Approval for a Patio in WA?

Building a patio might seem like a minor addition. However, if it's attached to your house or larger than 10 square metres, council approval is needed in WA.

The approval process will consider factors such as the patio's location, size, materials, and potential impact on neighbouring properties.

Getting council approval assures that your patio build aligns with local planning regulations, minimising potential issues in the future.

Building Permit Exemptions in Western Australia

Whilst most construction works require a permit, there are exceptions. Small projects like minor repairs, low-risk structures (e.g., small sheds or fences), and certain internal alterations may be exempt. However, these exemptions depend on the specific rules set out by your local council, so it's always best to check with them before starting any building work.

Steps in Applying for a Building Permit in WA

Consult with Professionals

Before you commence your application, it may be beneficial to consult with professionals like architects or building surveyors who can help understand the complexities of the process.

Prepare the Necessary Documents

Depending on your project, you'll need to prepare certain documents, such as plans, specifications, engineers’ details, and energy efficiency reports.

Submit the Application

The application, along with the necessary documents, should be submitted to your local council or a private certifier.

Wait for Approval

The approval time can vary depending on the project's complexity. In general, it can take anywhere from 10 to 25 working days.

Importance of Compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA)

Adhering to the BCA's regulations ensures your project is structurally sound, fire-resistant, energy-efficient, and accessible. Compliance with the BCA is mandatory under WA law. 

Non-compliance can lead to penalties, increased costs due to necessary modifications, and potential issues when reselling your property.

Key Takeaways

Understanding the building approval process in WA is crucial for anyone looking to undertake a construction project. 

While it might seem complex, navigating it correctly can save you from future headaches. If you're ever unsure, seek professional advice. 

Our expert team is always here to guide you through your building journey, ensuring that your dream project becomes a reality in a legal, safe, and efficient manner.

Remember, by respecting the process and adhering to the BCA, you're contributing to the maintenance of high building standards, ensuring the safety and integrity of our built environment, and preserving the value of your property. It's well worth the effort!

Building Approval Process FAQs

Q: How much does a building permit cost in WA?

A: The cost varies depending on the project value and council rates. At the time of writing, a building permit for a project valued at $150,000, for example, could cost around $700.

Q: Can I start building before the permit is approved?

A: No, starting a project before the permit approval is illegal and could lead to penalties.

Q: What happens if I build without a permit?

A: If you build without a required permit, you may face fines and legal action, and you'll likely have to apply for retrospective approval, which can be a costly and time-consuming process.


This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. While the information contained in this article was correct at time of writing, this is subject to