It is an offence under the Building Act 2011 (WA) to undertake building or demolition work without a permit, unless the work is exempt. This includes minor structures such as patios, sheds, fences, retaining walls, swimming pools and spas.

The information below outlines how to find out if a building is unauthorised and what can be done to resolve the matter.

How do I know if a building is approved?

The City is required to maintain records of all building approvals issued. An owner can request a plan search to obtain copies of the approvals for their property and use them to confirm which buildings are approved. If the City does not have an approval record for a building it is considered unauthorised.

If you are considering purchasing a property it is recommended that you request a plan search to confirm all buildings are approved prior to purchase.

What if a building is unauthorised?

If a building is unauthorised a person may apply to the City for retrospective approval. An application for building approval certificate (form BA13) is required for Class 1 and Class 10 buildings, such as residential alterations or additions, patios, sheds and spas. An application for occupancy permit (form BA9) is required for Class 2 to 9 buildings.

Both application types must include a certificate of building compliance (form BA18) from a registered building surveying contractor. The BA18 confirms that the building substantially complies with the applicable building standards and must reference as-constructed plans, specifications and technical documents that confirm compliance. The City’s Building Services branch offers a certification service and may be engaged to provide the BA18. For more information about this service, refer to the Related Links below.

Applications must be submitted online through the City’s portal. Applications must include one copy of all required document.  A tax invoice will be emailed to the applicant for the payment of the application fees. Incomplete applications risk refusal and will not be accepted. Large applications, such as commercial developments, must also be submitted through the City's online portal.

What if the building doesn’t comply?

Submitting an application does not guarantee that approval will be issued. If a building is found to be non-compliant the City may require works to be undertaken in order to achieve compliance. If the required works are not completed, or if the building is substantially non-compliant, the City may refuse to approve the application and take further action to see it removed.

The City may also take action where it is evident that a person has flagrantly disregarded the requirement to obtain a permit prior to commencing work. Penalties under the Building Act 2011 (WA) include a fine of up to $50,000 for a first offence, or up to $100,000 and 12 months imprisonment for subsequent offences.

A person may also be prosecuted under additional legislation, such as the Planning and Development Act 2005 (WA).

More information