The Building Act 2011 (WA) came into operation on 2 April 2012, revolutionising the building approval process in Western Australia. The Act made several major changes to how people apply for building approvals and how the permit authority (i.e. the local government) must process and determine applications.

More information: Building certification information

Private certification

The biggest change is the option to obtain private building certification. Previously, the permit authority was required to assess all applications for compliance with the National Construction Code (NCC). Now an applicant can choose to engage a private building surveying contractor to assess their proposal and issue a certificate confirming compliance with the NCC. The applicant must still obtain a permit from the permit authority, but as the application is already certified it must be determined within 10 business days.

Certification is required for most applications under the Act, and the type of application dictates which type of certificate is required.

A building surveyor may be required to issue one or more of the certificates listed below:

  • Certificate of design compliance (form BA3), which certifies that the design of a proposed building complies with the applicable building standards. A BA3 is required in order to lodge a BA1 Application for building permit – Certified.
  • Certificate of construction compliance (form BA17), which certifies that a building complies with the applicable building permit and is suitable for the proposed use. A BA17 is required in order to obtain an occupancy permit for a newly completed or incomplete building.
  • Certificate of building compliance (form BA18), which certifies that a building complies with the applicable building standards and other requirements under the Act. A BA18 is required in order to change the use or classification of a building, to obtain building approval for built strata, or to obtain building approval for unauthorised work.

The City’s Building Services branch provides a certification service and may be engaged to provide any of the above certificates for properties in the metro area. 

Standardised applications

The Act requires all applications and approvals to be on standard forms issued by the Building Commission. All forms are prefixed “BA” (e.g. BA1, BA2, etc.) and must be used and accepted by all local governments in Western Australia, eradicating the discrepancies under previously legislation.

Determining applications

In addition to the NCC, the Act sets out specific requirements that must be met to obtain a permit. If these requirements are not met the permit authority may request additional information or even refuse to approve the application. Among these requirements is that, when required, all other prescribed approvals (e.g. development approval) must be obtained and in effect before lodging a building application.

Permit authorities also have firm timeframes in which to determine applications. As explained above, an application that includes a certificate of compliance must be determined within 10 business days. An application lodged without a certificate of compliance (i.e. BA2 Application for building permit – Uncertified) must be determined within 25 business days. If an application is not determined within the legislated time the application fee is to be refunded to the applicant. If additional information is required the application is placed on hold and the information is to be provided within 21 days.

Encroaching or adversely affecting adjoining land

The Act provides a clear process for building work that will encroach or adversely affect adjoining land. This includes work that may:

  • cross or traverse a boundary into a lot other than the subject lot; or
  • reduce the stability or bearing capacity of adjoining land or a structure on the adjoining land (e.g. excavation); or
  • damage or reduce the structural adequacy of a structure on the adjoining land;
  • Involve the construction of a protection or support structure in a lot other than the subject lot.

A notice (form BA20) must be provided to the affected property owner/s and consent must be obtained before a permit can be issued. If consent cannot be obtained, a person may seek a court order to enable them to undertake the work.

More information

A copy of the Building Act 2011 (WA) and Building Regulations 2012 (WA) can be obtained through the Department of Justice website.

More information about the building approval framework can also be found on the Building Commission website.