FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: I’m doing some alterations / extensions at home, do I need a Building Plan approval?

Q2: When don’t I need a building approval for a Garden Shed?

Q3: When don’t I need a building approval for a Retaining wall?

Q4: Can I build closer than the required boundary setbacks?

Q5: What distance from my front boundary alignment do I have to come back to build a structure?

Q6: I would like to build a carport on the side of my house. How close to the boundary can I build?

Q7: I wish to raise and build-in underneath my house. What should I be aware of?

Q8: What is QBCC Insurance? - www.qbcc.qld.gov.au/

Q9: What is QLeave? - www.qleave.qld.gov.au

Q10: What is Energy Efficiency?

Q11: How long does a building approval last?

Q12: Can I change my plans after they have been approved?

Q13: Do I require any inspections during the construction of my building project?

Q14: Who can do building approvals and inspections?

Q15: What is a 'Private Certifier' and what is their role?

Q16: What is the purpose and timing of building inspections?

Q17: Who is responsible for supervision and quality control?

Q18: How can construction standards and quality be confirmed?

Q19: I thought Council approved building work?

Q20: When will a building inspection occur?


 Q1: I’m doing some alterations / extensions at home, do I need a Building Plan approval?


Any structural building work including - carports, pergolas, decks, verandahs, alterations / extensions, garden sheds and retaining walls higher than 1m require a Building Approval.


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Q2: When don’t I need a building approval for a Garden Shed?


Building approval is not required for a Garden shed if (class 10a not within wind region c).

(a) the plan area of the class 10 is no more than 10m2; and

(b) the class 10 has, above its natural ground surface –

          (i) a height of no more than 2.4m and

          (ii) a mean height of no more than 2.1m; and

(c) any side of the class 10 is no longer than 5m.



(Please note the following considerations)

- The shed must be securely bolted to a concrete slab or footing.

- Should be clear of Council sewers and stormwater mains (Required distances stipulated by Local Authority)

- Roof water must be dispersed without causing a nuisance to neighbours.


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Q3: When don’t I need a building approval for a Retaining wall?


(Building Regulation 2006 Schedule 1 & Building Act Section 21)


Building approval is not required, for a retaining wall if

(a) there is no surcharge loading over the zone of influence for the wall; and

(b) the total height of the wall and of the fill or cut retained by the wall is no more than 1m above the wall’s natural ground surface; and

(c) the wall is no closer than 1.5m to a building or another retaining wall.


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Q4: Can I build closer than the required boundary setbacks?


A Relaxation Application (Siting Variation) will be required for any building work that is located within boundary setbacks that are nominated by law under Building Regulation 2006 and Local Planning Schemes. Upon initial assessment of your plans will inform you if a Relaxation (Siting Variation) will be required.


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Q5: What distance from my front boundary alignment do I have to come back to build a structure?


Generally, a ‘minimum front boundary clearance’ of 6m is required, but a reduced distance may be allowed in special circumstances such as open carports or when the local authority has stipulated special boundary setbacks.


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Q6: I would like to build a carport on the side of my house. How close to the boundary can I build?


You can build up to the boundary under certain conditions:



  1. The carport must be open on two sides and without doors or gates on these sides.

  2. In addition, at least one-third of the carport perimeter must be open.

  3. It must have an adequate roof-water drainage system.

  4. It must not be higher than 4.5m above natural ground level with an average height not more than 3.5m. (Natural ground level is the surface level at the time of registration of the title deed.)

  5. Maximum length along the boundary must not be more than 9m – (total length of all buildings or parts on that boundary)


It must not be closer than 1.5m to a required window of a neighbouring building.


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Q7: I wish to raise and build-in underneath my house. What should I be aware of?


The minimum side boundary clearances depend on the height of the building, so raising the building may require a Siting Variation.



For example, a low-set home is generally less than 4.5m high and requires a boundary clearance of 1.5m on Outer Most Projection (fascia) for a standard residential allotment. By raising it to a height between 4.5m and 7.5m, a 2m side boundary clearance is required.

Please note (Small lots defined by Local Planning Scheme have additional specific siting requirements).



  1. A finished ceiling height of 2.4m is required for habitable rooms for example bedrooms, lounge rooms, and living areas etc.

  2. The finished floor level needs to be 225mm above finished ground level.


External walls must be water-proof. (Sometimes problems occur where single skin clay masonry is used.)


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Q8: What is QBCC Insurance? - www.qbcc.qld.gov.au


QBCC insurance is paid to the Queensland Building and Construction Commission, by the builder when undertaking work exceeding a value of $3300. The “Confirmation of  Insurance” document needs to be forwarded to your certifier to release plans. The insurance is paid on residential work including unit developments up to a certain number of storeys.


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Q9: What is QLeave? - www.qleave.qld.gov.au


The Building and Construction Industry Portable Long Service Leave Levy, Building and Construction Industry Training Fund Training Levy and Workplace Health and Saftey Fee are payable on the total cost of all building and construction work in Queensland costing $150,000 or more.


The levies and fee are usually paid by the project owner and must be paid prior to receiving a development permit. If a development permit is not given, they must be paid prior to the start of work.


The combined levies and fee are calculated at 0.35% of the total cost of work and can be paid at any Australia Post office or agency, or directly to QLeave.


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Q10: What is Energy Efficiency?


Energy Efficiency assessments are a legislative requirement with the objective to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by efficiently using energy. These assessments are applicable for new dwellings, class 2 – 9 buildings and alterations/additions (habitable areas) to existing dwellings. When the plans have been assessed for Energy Efficiency, a report is produced with an Energy Efficiency Rating. This report will become part of the Approved Plan documentation.


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Q11: How long does a building approval last?


The building work must be completed, inspected and finalised within two years of the date issue on the Decision Notice document, unless noted otherwise. (Demolitions to be commenced within 2 months and to be completed within 6 months from date of approval)


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Q12: Can I change my plans after they have been approved?


Yes, you can alter your Approved Plans, however it will depend on the nature of the alteration. Amending plans requires a Form 2 to be completed and returned to Certifier.


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Q13: Do I require any inspections during the construction of my building project?


Yes, your Decision Notice attached to your Approved Plans, will advise of what inspections are required. The builder and or Owner builder must contact the certifier the day prior to the inspection to ensure the booking is made in sufficient time for the inspection to be carried out on the requested day.


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Q14: Who can do building approvals and inspections?


Approvals for building work must be obtained from a building certifier (formerly known as a ‘building surveyor/inspector’), who can be either a local government building certifier or a private certifier. All building certifiers must be accredited by Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC).


Inspections for compliance with approved work must be carried out by either a local government building certifier or a private certifier. The certifier who approves the plans for building work must also do the required inspections personally or authorise a competent person to do them. NOTE: While the builder has a statutory obligation to notify the certifier at certain construction stages, home owners are ultimately responsible for ensuring that approvals are granted and the required inspections are carried out. (Arrangements for certification should, therefore, be discussed and agreed with the builder and recorded in the building agreement). You are entitled to copies of certificates of inspection as they are issued.


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Q15: What is a 'Private Certifier' and what is their role?


A private certifier is a building certifier whose QBCC accreditation is specifically endorsed to allow them to work in any local government area. If you wish to engage a private certifier you should check their accreditation details with QBCC, ask them about their past experience, and contact past clients. Under the Integrated Planning Act 1997, the engagement must be in writing and must state the certification fee.


There are two different levels of accreditation for private certifiers related to the size of projects they can undertake. Within these levels private certifiers are able to perform the following work: assessing building applications; issuing building approvals; inspecting and certifying construction; issuing enforcement notices on building work they are directly involved with; and issuing certificates to allow the lawful occupation of certain classes of buildings. Private certifiers are required to have at least $1 million professional indemnity insurance.


There are, however, a number of matters over which private certifiers have no authority and which can only be decided by the local government. These matters include: assessing town planning matters; reviewing the capacity and location of public utilities (e.g. sewer mains, water supply, etc.); exercising discretion on the siting of buildings (e.g. reducing the setback requirements); and granting exemptions to the installation of swimming pool fences.


Note: It is unlawful for a private certifier to certify or approve work with which they are personally involved as a builder or designer, or from which they are able to derive a profit.


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Q16: What is the purpose and timing of building inspections?


The primary function of on-site inspections is to ensure that construction work complies with approved plans and recognised building standards including the Building Code of Australia (BCA). It is not the role of the certifier to ensure compliance with the terms of the contract or specifications, or to judge the quality of the work.


Since the Integrated Planning Act came into effect on 30 April 1998, building inspections on dwellings must be performed at the following stages - footing, slab, frame and final.


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Q17: Who is responsible for supervision and quality control?


It is the responsibility of the builder and the owner, working together, to ensure that the dwelling is constructed to an acceptable standard in accordance with the approved plans and contract documents. Building certifiers are required to act in the public interest and do not perform an ongoing supervisory role on behalf of individual home owners.


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Q18: How can construction standards and quality be confirmed?


If consumers have specific requirements with regard to quality and finish, these details (e.g. type and no. of coats of paint, materials to be used, etc.) should be discussed and written into the contract. The next step is to carry out regular on-site inspections, by appointment, with the builder or builder’s supervisor (not an individual tradesperson as they cannot speak with authority about the whole job). If home owners are not confident that they have sufficient time or knowledge to ensure the quality of the work, they may wish to engage a consultant to monitor the job on their behalf. (Check the consultant’s qualifications, experience and past clients)


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Q19: I thought Council approved building work?


A Council 'building inspector' (now 'building certifier') was traditionally the regulator of all building work within the boundaries of a local government area. However, legislative changes made by the state government in 1998 allowed the regulation of building work to be carried out by building certifiers not in the employ of a Council (i.e. a private building certifier).


Building permits can be obtained from any building certifier 'appropriately licensed' by the Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC), whether they are employed by a local government building certifier or operate as a private enterprise.


It should be noted however, that Council remains the sole regulator for the approval and inspection of plumbing and drainage work.


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Q20: When will a building inspection occur?


When a building permit is given, a condition of the approval will be that certain mandatory inspections must be carried out.


Once the building work reaches a stage when the work can be inspected, the builder must give the building certifier a notice, whether in writing or by other means, advising that building work has been carried out to a stage when inspection can take place.


The purpose of the inspections is to ensure that the building work is being carried out in accordance with the building permit and relevant building standards.


Building inspections for the construction of a house must be performed at the following stages:



  • Footing: includes inspection of the foundation material and the reinforcing steel before concrete is placed;

  • Slab: includes a check on the bearing capacity of the soil, inspection of the moisture-proof barrier, and the reinforcing steel before concrete is placed;

  • Frame: covers inspection of the frame including timber sizes, fixing, tie-down, and bracing before the cladding or wall linings are fixed; and

  • Final: includes checking on any previous outstanding items and the collection of certificates such as termite protection, wet area membrane installation, glazing, and certification of engineer designed elements such as roof trusses. The final inspection will also cover aspects such as:

    • the control and discharge of stormwater;

    • the height of the floor above ground;

    • support of any earthworks necessary to protect the building and other property;

    • protection against water penetration

    • fire safety issues such as smoke alarms, solid fuel appliances, fire protection near boundaries and in designated bushfire areas;

    • room ventilation;

    • toilet door swing;

    • vermin proofing;

    • sub-floor ventilation;

    • termite protection and re-treatment notice;

    • stairs, handrails and balustrades; and

    • swimming pool fencing.




More details on the legislative requirements concerning inspections can be found in Part 8 of the Standard Building Regulation.


In addition to these building inspections, there are also mandatory plumbing and drainage inspections. Contact your local council for more details on what inspections may be required.


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