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Some things to know before obtaining a commercial building permit

Posted By  
08:00 AM

If you are thinking about altering your commercial building or wanting to extend or change the use of your building, there are a few key things that you need to know first.  

What to do before you apply for a commercial building permit?

Generally, if you want to carry out external alterations to your building, you will need to seek the advice of the local council Town Planning Department.   It is likely that any external alterations to your building will need a Town Planning permit.  

The Town Planning permit will contain a set of conditions you’ll need to meet upon completion of your development.  A good architect or draftperson is essential for putting your ideas on paper and to present to the Town Planning Department and ultimately, to your building surveyor for approval.  

When do I need to get a commercial building permit?

Almost all alterations or additions to a commercial building will need a building permit. The building permit ensures that a design meets all building code requirements, including the National Construction Code Building Code of Australia, relevant Australian Standards, the Building Act 1993 and the Building Regulations 2018.  

The building permit will nominate all the mandatory inspections that need to be performed by a building inspector in the correct class, depending on the type of commercial building in question.  

You’ll need to obtain a building permit for your commercial building if you are:

  • Changing the use of the building:  For example, you might want to change the use of the building from a warehouse into a shop that’s open to the public, or incorporate a different use, such as a café to the building.  
  • Extending or altering any part of the building:  For example, if you’re proposing to increase the size of the building or alter the internal layout of the building, that in turn impacts on the essential safety measures (exit paths, illuminated exit signs, emergency lighting etc),  of the building, you will need to obtain a building permit.
  • Installing a sign:  A sign attached to a building will also require a building permit, the main concern of a structure that is attached to a building is that it is installed correctly and the fixing of the sign is properly designed by a structural engineer.  The structural engineers design, forms part of the building permit.  
  • Demolishing your commercial building or part:  It may sound obvious, but any demolition of a building or part, requires a building permit.  In some areas, a Town Planning permit may also be required.  
  • Accessibility in your commercial building:  Alterations that changes the circulation to, from and within a commercial building, requires a building permit.  The Federal Government has enacted the Disability Discrimination Act which stipulates all building owners, (when carrying out works to their building), have to provide fair and equitable access for persons with a disability.  
  • Altering any essential safety measures of your building:  A path of travel to an exit or a carpet lining or vinyl floor covering, among many others, are essential safety measures.  If alterations are proposed to be made that effects or alters any essential safety measures, then a building permit must be obtained before construction commences.  

Can I carry out alterations to my commercial premises without a permit?

In short, any proposed changes to a commercial building more than likely, will require a building permit, before the works can commence.  Advice should be obtained from your relevant building surveyor, if you are proposing alterations to your building.  Remember, it is an offense to carry out building works, without a building permit.