Building process information

The City controls the construction, occupation and demolition of buildings and incidental structures through the granting of building, demolition or occupancy permits and building approval certificates and the enforcement of compliance with permits.

We are responsible for:

  • ensuring that all applications are complete and in order and that all statutory requirements and approvals are in place
  • granting a permit or certificate when we are satisfied that an application complies with the Building Codes of Australia and all other relevant standards and legislation
  • listing conditions, required tests and/or inspections where applicable on permits or certificates
  • maintaining building records which can be made available to authorised people such as current and subsequent owners
  • enforcing and dealing with non-compliant buildings and incidental structures by inspecting and investigating building work and, where relevant, issuing infringement notices, building orders or commencing prosecution for non-compliance.

 In addition to assessing and issuing permits and certificates, we also offer:

  • Archive searches for building plans and documents for buildings and incidental structures that were built, altered or renovated after 1980. For further information about the archive search process, please refer to building plans and documents.
  • Certification Services:
  • Certificate of Building Compliance (Class 10 only)
  • Certificate of Design Compliance (Class 2 – 9 only)
  • Certificate of Construction Compliance (Class 2 – 9 only)
  • Certificate of Building Compliance for a BA11 of BA15 Strata

For further information about the City’s Certifications Services please contact the City on 9267 9267.

  • Residential Design Codes (R-Code) Variation Assessments:

The Residential Design Codes (R-Codes) are a State Planning Policy that guide the residential development of single, grouped and multiple dwellings within Western Australia. Find out more about the R-Code Variation approval process. 

What is the difference between Planning and Building approvals?

 

Planning approvals and building approvals are different and are controlled by different legislation.

A planning approval ensures that the development of a property within the City complies with the Local Planning Scheme, Residential Design Codes and other relevant legislation and policies.

building approval ensures that the proposed building work complies with the Building Codes of Australia and other relevant standards and legislation. 

Legislative Framework

In Western Australia the building approval process is governed by the Building Act 2011 and the Building Regulations 2012 which regulate the construction and/or demolition of buildings and structures, and the occupation of buildings. 

For more detailed information please refer to the: 

 The Building Services Legislation incorporates:

Building approval process 

The following online publication A guide to the building approvals process in Western Australia provides an overview of the building approval process and is relevant whether you are building a house, an office, a shed, a swimming pool safety barrier or planning renovations that require building approval.

It includes sections on:

  • the State’s building legislation
  • the various types of permits and  application processes
  • exemptions from requiring a permit that may apply
  • building standards and certifying compliance
  •  retrospective approval of unauthorised work
  • what to do if work will affect other land
  • the roles and responsibilities of those involved.

Please note this guide does not replace the requirement for you to refer to the Building Act 2011 and the Building Regulations 2012 when making a formal decision. 

Roles and responsibilities

The roles and responsibilities of the key players during the building approval and building process are outlined as follows.

Applicants 

 An applicant is the person making the application. This can be the owner, the designer, the builder or anyone else engaged to obtain the permit for the project. The applicant is responsible for the:

  • Lodgement of permit application with all required supporting documents
  • Providing further information to the City within the specified time if requested
  • Obtaining all required approvals prior to lodgement of building permit applications.

Owners 

An owner is the person(s) or entity whose name is registered as a proprietor of the land i.e. the name(s) recorded on the Certificate of Title which is issued by Landgate. The owner(s) are responsible for:

  • Appointing a new builder in the event the previous builder ceases work prior to completion of building work.
  • For Class 2 to Class 9 buildings:
    • Ensuring the safety measures that formed part of the building permit in each part of the building are maintained (Regulation 48A)
    • Ensuring that an occupancy permit is obtained before the building is occupied and that the permit is displayed at the entrance of the building.
  • Ensuring a compliant barrier is installed and maintained (Regulation 50) for all private swimming pools or spas that have the capacity to contain water that is more than 300mm deep.
  • Ensuring that all building work, when completed complies with each applicable building standard even if an exemption applies.

Builders

A builder is the person responsible for the work being carried out under the building permit. The builder is responsible for: Ensuring home indemnity insurance is in place (if relevant) before starting any building work.

  • Ensuring home indemnity insurance is in place (if relevant) before starting any building work.
  • Ensuring the building or incidental structure is completed in accordance with the plans and specifications detailed in the certificate of design compliance and that the building complies with each applicable building standard and the provisions in the building permit.
  • Ensuring that no work affecting other land is undertaken without consent or court order
  • Arranging for any inspections and tests listed on the building permit to be carried out and recorded
  • Giving a notice of completion (form BA7) to the City within seven days of completion of the work or stage of the work for which the permit was granted
  • Giving a notice of cessation (form BA8) to the City within seven days, if the builder ceases to be responsible for the work

Where works are required to be undertaken by a registered builder, this person is required to be registered as a building contractor under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011. Refer to “Do I need to be a registered builder” fact sheet on the Building Commission website.

Building surveyors

 A Building Surveyor is a person who is a registered building surveyor, as defined in section 3 of the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011. The building surveyor is responsible for:

  •  Certifying the design of new building work to state it will meet the applicable building standards Certifying that the building has been built in accordance with the specified plans and specifications 
  • Certifying that existing buildings meet the applicable building standards for temporary or permanent changes of use or classification, or when a building is being strata titled or retrospectively approved
  • Certifying that the building in its current form is safe to occupy and use in the way proposed

Owners or applicants may either engage a private building surveyor or seek the services of one of the City’s building surveyors.

If you wish to engage the services of the City to prepare a certificate please contact the City on 9267 9267.

Private building surveyors

A private building surveyor must be registered as a building surveying contractor under the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011 in order to contract with the public to carry out building surveying work as defined in the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011.

Independent building surveyor 

 All certifying building surveyors must be independent - meaning that they cannot be an owner of the land, an employee of an owner, or the builder or demolition contractor or an employee of the builder or demolition contractor. This applies to both private and local government building surveyors.

Permit authority

 A permit authority is:

  • usually the local government that has responsibility for the area in which the building or incidental structure is (or is intended to be) located;
  • a special permit authority or
  • the State Government.

Under the Building Act 2011, permit authorities have a fixed amount of time to grant or refuse a building application.  If an application is incomplete, or the required approvals have not been obtained, the permit authority is entitled to reject your application and keep the application fee.

For further information about these timeframes, please refer to assessment timeframes.

If your proposed building works is going to be located within the City of Swan, you will need to obtain approval from the City prior to commencing any building works.

We are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that all applications are complete and in order and that all statutory requirements and approvals are in place.
  • Granting a permit or certificate when we are satisfied that an application complies with the Building Codes of Australia and all other relevant standards and legislation.
  • Listing conditions, required tests and/or inspections where applicable on permits or certificates.
  • Maintaining building records which can be made available to authorised people such as current and subsequent owners.
  • Enforcing and dealing with non-compliant buildings and incidental structures by inspecting and investigating building work and, where relevant, issuing infringement notices, building orders or commencing prosecution for non-compliance. 

Building classes

The Building Act 2011 adopts the Building Code of Australia (BCA), being Volumes One and Two of the National Construction code series (NCC), as the primary applicable standard for all new building and demolition work. 

Buildings are classified under the BCA by the purpose for which they are designed, constructed, or adapted to be used and may attract a number of classes and be described as a mixed use building.

If you wish to find a list of different building classes (Class 1 to Class 10) and an explanation of each class refer to the Department of Commerce

A building surveyor is responsible for determining the classification of the building or incidental structure before signing a certificate of compliance.

Determining the value of building work  

 When estimating the value of building work, the Building Regulations 2012 require that the value is the sum of the value of the following relevant components (including GST):

  • all goods, including manufactured goods, forming part of the construction work
  • cost of labour (even if an owner or a friend provides this component)
  • fees payable
  • profit margin
  • GST
  • services necessary
  • overheads

Choosing the right permit 

To provide for consistency in building approvals throughout the state, all the relevant application forms, notices and compliance certificates are approved by the Building Commissioner and are available on the Building Commission website.

Providing the correct application form together with all required information will assist the City to process your application in timely manner. 

Building permit 

In Western Australia it is an offence under the Building Act to commence any building work without a building permit. Generally, a building permit is required for all residential, commercial or industrial structures including but not limited to new works, alterations, additions, swimming pools, spas (below and above ground), pool safety barriers and sheds.

If your proposed building work requires a Health or Planning approval, you should obtain these approvals before submitting your building permit application to the City.

Please note: There are two ways to apply for a building permit.

Applications for Class 1b and Class 2 to 9 must be made as certified applications, whereas this is optional for Class 1a and 10 buildings and incidental structures.

Exemptions:

Part 5, Division 2 of the Building Act 2011 and Regulation 41, Schedule 4 of the Building Regulations 2012, outlines building work that does not require a building permit.

Find out more about the Building Permit application process.

Demolition permit

 A demolition permit is required for the demolition, dismantling or removal of a building or incidental structure.

Exemptions:

Part 5, Division 2 of the Building Act 2011 and Regulation 42 of the Building Regulations 2012, outlines demolition for which a demolition permit is not required.

Find out more about the Demolition Permit application process.

Occupancy permit 

 An occupancy permit must be obtained from the City before a Class 2 to 9 building can be occupied and must be displayed at the entrance of the building. Occupancy permits cover a number of different scenarios, including:

  • occupying a completed new building or a new part of an existing building;
  • temporarily occupying an incomplete building
  • changing an existing building’s use or classification;
  • authorising and occupying an unauthorised building.

Exemptions:

Occupancy permits are not needed for:

  • Existing buildings, unless the use or classification is to be changed.
  • Class 1a and 10 (single residential) buildings

Find out more about the Occupancy Permit application process.

Occupancy permit - strata

An occupancy permit - strata is required to obtain strata titles from Landgate for Class 2 to 9 buildings.

It is not compulsory to strata title a Class 2 to 9 building, however if you wish to lodge a strata plan for registration or re-subdivide a lot in a Strata Scheme under the Strata Titles Act 1985, you will need to obtain an occupancy permit -strata from the City. 

An occupancy permit - strata does not act as an occupancy permit or authorise a person to occupy a building. A separate occupancy permit will be required for such purposes.

For further information about the Occupancy Permit - Strata application process, please refer to Occupancy Permit - Strata page.

Building approval certificate

A building approval certificate is used to:

  • Approve any unauthorised building work associated with a Class 1 or 10 building or incidental structure or
  • Certify an existing building’s compliance with the applicable building standards.

Building approval certificates are voluntary, however if you have unauthorised buildings or incidental structures, the City may require you to demolish these if your application is unsuccessful.  

For further information about the Building Approval Certificate application process, please refer to Building Approval Certificate page.

Building approval - strata

A building approval certificate - strata is required to obtain strata titles from Landgate for Class 1 and 10 buildings or incidental structures. It cannot be used to certify compliance for works carried out without a building permit.

It is not compulsory to strata title a Class 1 and 10 building or incidental structure, however if you wish to lodge a strata plan for registration or re-subdivide a lot in a Strata Scheme under the Strata Titles Act 1985, you will need to obtain a building approval certificate - strata from the City. 

How to submit a building application

 The City receives Building applications electronically. This option is available to all our customers and residents and it is our preferred choice for submissions.

You may also submit your application in person, or by post.

Electronically:

  • If you are a registered user (i.e. applicants / builders who regularly submit building applications) please lodge the application using the Online Applications portal. (Insert link/button to Portal)

If you are interested in becoming a registered user then please send an email to eApplications@swan.wa.gov.au  

  • If you are not a registered user please submit a PDF version of the application and supporting documentation to eApplications@swan.wa.gov.au We can receive up to 30MB per email however no single PDF should be larger than 10MB.

In Person: You may lodge an application over the counter at City of Swan, 2 Midland Square, MIDLAND WA 6056

By Post: You may lodge an application via post at City of Swan, PO Box 196, MIDLAND WA 6936

Tracking a building application

 All users may track the progress of their building application by using the Application Search button.

The Online Application Tracking facility enables you to obtain up to date information relating to a building application that has been lodged with the City. Please note: the information provided represents key milestones in the application process, not a detailed history. 

Assessment timeframes 

Under the Building Act 2011 the City has a fixed amount of time to grant or refuse a permit application. The point at which our timeframe for assessing an application starts is referred to as “starting the clock”.

 The length of time the City has to consider an application from when the clock starts is listed in the table below:

The clock starts at 12am the day after a complete application is received by the City.

Type of application Time the City has to decide
  • Building permit certified (BA1)
  • Demolition permit (BA5)
  • Occupancy permit (BA9)
  • Occupancy permit strata (BA11)
  • Building approval certificate (BA13)
  • Building approval certificate strata (BA15)
10 business days
  • Building permit uncertified (BA2)

(Class 1a and Class 10 buildings and incidental structures only)

25 business days

To help the City process applications within these strict timeframes, it is important to ensure that your application is complete and that all required approvals have been obtained before submitting your application.

The City may require an applicant to provide additional information or document(s) that it deems necessary.

The applicant must submit the additional information or document(s) within 21 days of a written request to avoid the application from being refused.

If an application is incomplete, or the required approvals have not been obtained, the City is entitled to refuse the application and to retain the application fee.

Appealing against the decision

If an application is refused due to non-compliance the applicant may lodge an appeal with the State Administrative Tribunal in accordance with the provisions under the Building Act 2011.

For more information about the appeal process, please refer to the State Administrative Tribunal.

Schedule of fees and charges

 All fees are payable at time of lodgement of an application.

Three types of fees may be applied to a Building Approval application.

They are:

  • The Building Act Fees:  The prescribed fee is payable to local government when an application is made. These fees cover the cost of assessment, regardless of the outcome i.e. if the application is refused this fee will not be refunded.
  • The Building Services Levy (BSL): A building services levy is payable to local government for building, demolition and some occupancy permits as well as for building approval certificates issued under the Building Act 2011.

The levy is paid for the purposes of funding the operations of the Building Commission to regulate the building services. 

  • The Construction Training Fund (CTF) Levy: The training levy is applied to all residential, commercial and civil engineering projects undertaken in Western Australia where the total value of construction is more than $20,000. The rate of the levy is 0.2% of the total contract price (inclusive of GST). 

In most cases, the Levy is paid to the City when an application is made alternatively a direct payment to the Construction Training Fund may be made, in which case copy of the receipt is required before the City can accept or lodge the application.  

View the City's Schedule of Fees and Charges(PDF, 148KB) for 2016/2017.