Unauthorised building works

Building Without Building Approval

Let’s look at a hypothetical situation for a minute: Six months ago you purchased a carport kit to set up in your driveway and increase the market value of your house — a little weekend DIY. The plan was a success and the house has now sold. However before the contract could be finalised, you have been slapped with an Unlawful Building Work Notice, effectively cancelling the sale. Why has this happened and what should you do?

All building work in Queensland is considered assessable development, unless it is determined to be exempt or self-assessable under a regulation. If you are to carry out assessable building work then you must obtain a building permit from a Building Certifier before you start work. Illegal building work is surprisingly common and is often a result of individuals simply not understanding the law.

Local Councils have the right to notify a land owner if they believe illegal building work has, or is occurring on a site. Generally, your Council will first issue you with a warning and request you to contact them to rectify the situation. If you do not address this warning, monetary penalties may be enforced until the issue is dealt with.

If you do have illegal building work on your property, you will need to engage a Building Certifier to obtain a Building Permit for the structure. If the structure hasn’t been built correctly you may need to make structural changes.

If it is discovered that the building does not comply with setback rules or that it needs a higher level of planning scheme assessment, then you will be required to rectify those issues prior to obtaining the building permit. This may require additional applications to be made to the local council.

So, don’t let your DIY project cost you more in red tape than it did to construct; make sure you check the building requirements first by contacting a private building certifier. Also check our other article about what you should know before you start to build.


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Candace is a valued past employee of Devcert. Candace started as a student with Devcert in 2010 and obtained a Bachelor Degree in Planning while working with us. Many of the planning articles on The Oil Stone were researched and developed by Candace.