New Building Act 2011

The new Building Act 2011 came into effect on 2 April 2012. It brings some significant changes to the building approvals process, from the design stage right through to occupation of a building. The new Act separates the process of certifying that a design complies with building standards from the administrative process of the local government issuing building approval (Building Permit).

New Building Approval Process

The Building Act 2011 changes the current building approval process in WA and provides flexibility and choice for both builders and consumers when making an application. The new Act separates the process of certifying that a design complies with building standards from the administrative process of the local government issuing building approval (Building Permit).

A certificate of design compliance is issued by a registered building surveyor (in private practice or local government) to confirm certification, and a building permit is issued by the local government permit authority to confirm approval to build. Building companies are free to contract (but not directly employ) registered building surveyors and offer certification as part of the building service to their customers.

What else changes for Builders?

In addition to the changes in respect of certifying design compliance, the Building Act 2011 introduces new requirements for construction and completion.

For all classes of building the builder must submit a notice of completion within 7 days of finishing the work under a permit. This notice establishes the end date of the building permit for compliance and record keeping purposes, and signifies the point from which the builder has fulfilled his obligations regarding compliance with the Building Act 2011.

A notice of completion does not affect contractual matters such as the contents or timing of a notice of practical completion or any requirements to make good any defects to a building before a final certificate is issued.


The Building Act allows for the establishment of mandatory inspections to be carried out during construction however there will be no mandatory inspection requirements at the introduction of the legislation. The introduction of mandatory inspections will be an area for future reform. Inspections may be required by the certifier (registered Building Surveyor) approving the Certificate of Design Compliance before mandatory inspections apply. Inspections required to be carried out as part of the Certificate of Design Compliance are required to be noted on the Certificate.

How does that affect me?

From the 2 April 2012 if you are about to apply for a Building Permit, then you will need to make one of the following types of application to the Shire:

  • Uncertified, or
  • Certified

What is the difference between Uncertified and Certified applications?

An uncertified application process is similar to the previous building approval process in that you lodge all of the documentation with the local government to have it assessed for compliance with the Building Code of Australia. If compliant the local government will issue you with a "Design Compliance Certificate". Once the Design Compliance Certificate has been issued the Shire will then issue a Building Permit which will permit you to commence building.

A Certified application process is different in that as the owner or applicant you can choose to have your plans and other documents certified by a registered Building Surveyor, who if satisfied that your documents comply with the Building Code of Australia will issue you with a "Design Compliance Certificate". As the applicant you can use that certificate (Certificate of Design Compliance) to apply for a Building Permit from your Shire which when issued will allow you to commence building.

What are my responsibilities as the applicant?

Under the new provisions of the Building Act you are responsible to ensure that ALL relevant approvals are in place before the application is made for a Building Permit. This may include such approvals as, Planning, Water Corp, Health Department etc.

Can I lodge my application and provide other information later?

Yes you can but the timeframe for ensuring that the information is provided and correct is very limited. Any additional information required to complete your assessment must be provided to the Shire within twenty one (21) days from the day the additional information is requested.

How long does the Shire have to approve my application?

The time to approve an application depends on the type of application made.

An Uncertified application must be determined within twenty five (25) working days.

A Certified application must be determined by the Shire in ten (10) working days.

What happens if the Shire takes longer than the prescribed time?

If the Shire does not determine the application in the prescribed time then the application is deemed refused and the Shire is required to return the full fees paid for the application. However if the Shire has requested additional information and the information is not provided within the prescribed time then the application is deemed refused and the Shire retains the fees paid.

Who is a Registered Building Surveyor?

A Registered Building Surveyor is a person who has been accredited as a Building Practitioner by the Building Commission. A register of building practitioners can be obtained from the Building Commission:

As a builder what are my responsibilities?

As the builder you are responsible to;

  • Ensure that you build your building in accordance with the approved Building Permit,
  • Ensure that any inspections noted on the Building Compliance Certificate have been carried out by a competent person,
  • Provide notification to the Permit Authority (the local government) within seven (7) days of completion of the building works being undertaken by the Building Permit issued.

Can I be an owner builder?

Yes the Building Act enables owners to be builders. Approval to be an owner builder is to be obtained through the Building Commission. From the commencement of the Building Services (Registration) Act 2011, owner-builders will require approval from the new Building Services Board before they can apply for a building permit from the Shire.

An owner-builder will be permitted to take out a building permit once every six years and the current requirement that restricts an owner-builder from selling within three years will no longer apply under the new legislation.

Owner-builder applications that were received by the Board prior to commencement of the building services legislation will be dealt with under the previous process provided by the Builders' Registration Act 1939.

Where can I get the forms?

All forms required to be used under the Act are located on the Building Commission web site. Follow the link below. It is important to note that only the forms approved by the Building Commission can be used:

A series of checklists for specific building projects, either certified or uncertified, is also available on this website to assist applicants in the preparation of their application.

Other frequently asked questions relating to more detail aspects of the Building Act 2011 can be found on the Building Commission web site.