Victorian Building Permits

10 December

Victorian Building Permits 101

Everything you need to know about getting a Commercial Structure permit in Victoria

You’ve got your land. You’ve got a great shed design. And you’re ready to take the first step to make your commercial structure a reality.

Here’s where some of our customers can come unstuck, as the council permit process in Victoria can be intimidating for anyone new to the game.

Our team has put together a basic step by step outline of the different types of approvals that you need, to help guide you through the building process without too much stress.

Let’s dive in.

Firstly: you’ll most likely need two approvals, not one

Getting approval to build your structure involves two levels of approvals.

  • Level 1 is your Planning Approval
  • Level 2 is your Building Permit

Let’s take a look at these in more detail.

What is a planning permit?

Level 1 planning approvals are also known as a PP or a planning permit.

In Victoria, all commercial buildings require a planning permit, which is a high-level approval focused on how your structure fits into its environment. It doesn’t look at an extreme level of detail: this level of approval is purely to ensure that your proposed development complies with your local council’s future planning regime, local zonings, and appearance rules. It ensures that traffic flows and carpark requirements are met, and puts in place the requirements for drainage and retention to ensure council assets aren’t affected too much by the extra drainage required for the development.

You’ll need your level 1 planning permit before you can advance to level 2 and obtain your building permit.

How to get a planning permit in Victoria

The first step is to contact your local council. Different councils have slightly different procedures, but in general, you’ll need to have the following documents ready:

  • A site plan showing the proposed location, existing buildings, distance from the boundaries, car parking, loading bays and traffic flow
  • Elevation drawings of your structure showing each view with dimensions
  • Title documents and plan of subdivision
  • Details of any covenants on your property
  • And finally, the permit application form itself.

There also may be other reports required, particularly if your site has a specific overlay, such as a landscape significance overlay or an Aboriginal culture heritage overlay.

Overlays can mean that your site is subject to extra rules and requirements, so check with your council to see whether your land has any specific features that need to be taken into account.

Once you receive the planning permit for your shed

When your structure has planning approval, you’re ready to delve deeper into the details of the actual construction. This stage is much more detailed, and you’ll need to engage with professionals to get some of the paperwork ready.

The planning permit will note some specific conditions that have to be met before you can move forward, such as drainage and fire service requirements.

How is a building permit different from a planning permit?

The underlying requirement for this permit is to ensure that all works will comply with the Building Code. This includes site works, drainage engineering, structural engineering, fire safety compliance and disability access regulations.

It differs from the initial planning permit as it looks at each aspect of the project in much more detail, specifically from a construction point of view.

How to get a Victorian building permit

Firstly, you need to apply for your building permit through a building surveyor, who then issues you with the permit if your application satisfies all the criteria.

Successfully getting a permit involves supplying the following information (usually 3 copies of each) for review, and paying a levy based on the cost of the building work.

  • The planning permit you recently received
  • Engineering plans
  • Civil, structural and hydraulic plans
  • A septic permit
  • Fire design
  • Your energy rating report – also known as a Section J report
  • Soil report
  • Title documents
  • Details of any covenants on your property
  • Compliant plans meeting all the National Construction Code requirements – you’ll typically need an architect to draw these up for you.
  • And finally, the building permit application form.


1. The first step is to get your site plans, elevation drawings and title documents in order
2. Next, you can use these to apply for a planning permit (this process can take anywhere from 1 month to 1 year)
3. Once your planning permit is approved, you’ll need to engage a building surveyor
4. You can then get third party providers such as engineers and architects to provide the plans
5. The surveyor won’t assess the permit until all fees are paid, including their own fee and the VBA’s levy for the permit. This levy is typically substantially less than 1% of the overall cost of works.
6. Once the fees are paid, the surveyor reviews the documentation and the estimate you provide and issues an assessment. At this point, the assessor may request more information if required.
7. Once the surveyor is satisfied everything with the building is compliant he will issue the building permit.

Once you have your permit you can engage with your commercial builder and get the ball rolling.

Note that permits have an expiry date, so it’s wise to start talking to builders whilst your permit is still under review so that you can get any early planning squared away such as engaging your contractors. This will help streamline the building process.

Ready to make a start on your commercial shed?

Getting your planning and building permits can seem overwhelming at first, but we hope this article breaks down the process into manageable steps.

Of course, the Steelcorp team is experienced in helping our customers through the process and we’re always here to help guide you through. Give our Wangaratta team a call any time for information and advice on any part of building a commercial structure.

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