Frequently asked questions

1. Can I build on this land?

The zones within Northern Grampians Shire Council's planning scheme determine what can be built and where. Whether or not there is an existing dwelling on the lot can also impact.

Please see do you need a building or planning permit or contact the NGSC Planning department to determine if you can use the land you own, or are proposing to purchase, to build your project.

2. Do I need a building permit for a fence? How high can I build my fence?

Fencing in most cases does not require a building permit. Fences that adjoin side and rear property lines do not require a permit if constructed under 2.0 metres in height. Front fences constructed of brick or stone above 1.2 metres in height or timber and steel fences above 1.5 metres in height require a building permit. 

Fencing located on the front and side street boundaries of a corner property cannot exceed 1.0 metres in height when within 9.0 metres of the intersection of street alignments. If there is a need for the fence to be higher, report and consent approval will be required from the Municipal Building Surveyor.

For information on starting the process, disputes or sharing cost please see the Dispute Settlement Centre of Victoria

3. Do I need a building permit for a shed or carport?

Any roofed area greater than 10m2 will require a building permit. For example a 3m x 3m garden shed is 9m2 and does not require a building permit.

4. Do I need a building permit for a pergola?

A pergola is a structure that is considered open-roofed to the rain and air. Slats or shade cloth are acceptable. If connected no further forward than 2.5 metres at the front of a house, or no further forward than the front wall of a house if free standing, a pergola that is less than 3.6 metres in height and not more than 20m2 in area will not require a building permit.

5. Can I be an owner builder?

You can be an owner builder for building works to your principal place of residence or to a new dwelling you intend to live in. Building works with a cost greater than $16,000 will require a certificate from the Victorian Building Authority (VBA). Please see the following link for more information VBA Owner Builder

6. Does my cost of works have to include a cost for my labour?

Even as an owner builder you must include a reasonable labour cost in your project. Where there is not a contract price provided for building works, you will be asked for a full cost breakdown to provide evidence of your cost of works and you must include a GST component to you estimate.

It is not the responsibility of Council or the Building Surveyor to provide your estimate of costs. The building surveyor is however, responsible for ensuring the cost of works is correct.  

Please see the following link for more information VBA Cost of building work

7. How do I contact the owner of the adjoining property?

Council is not required to provide contact details of the adjoining owner. You may be required to contact the adjoining owner of a property for the serving of documents relating to fencing or for comment on a building report and consent form to permit a variation to a building regulation. You have the option of approaching the occupant for the building. If the building is being rented, you can approach the real estate agent to forward your paperwork. There is also the option of undertaking a title search and sending the documents to the address listed on the title. If the property is an accommodation rental you could search the address online and obtain a contact from there.

8. What is a report and consent?

There are parts of the building regulations that can be varied to allow certain concessions. For example, front set back or building height on, or near, the boundary. This requires an application to Council and comment from the adjoining owners. Approval for a report and consent requires no objection from the adjoining owners and it must meet the Minister's guidelines. There is an appeal process available though the Building Appeals Board for unsuccessful applications. Please see the following link to the BAB, Building Appeals Board

9. Can we live in a shed? 

A shed is not a habitable use building for which an occupancy permit can be issued. A shed is the minimum standard for a building. A dwelling/house is required to be constructed to a far higher standard, with an occupancy permit issued on its completion. It is illegal to occupy a building without an occupancy permit. The structure of a shed is designed to carry only the weight of itself and to resist wind action. It cannot safely support other loads such as walls and ceilings.

10. Do I need a building permit to reclad or put a new roof and gutters on my house?

A building permit is not required to replace or repair an existing roof or gutter system with like-for-like products. This also applies to the recladding of homes. Please note that if your home is in a bushfire prone area you should consider retrofitting to the appropriate bushfire attack level to protect your home and your family.

11. How long does it take to get a building permit?

Providing all the relevant information is included in your application, most building permits are processed in three to four weeks.

12. My neighbour has built something. Do they have a building permit? 

If a building permit has been issued, there should be a sign on the front fence of the property where the works are taking place. This sign should include the building surveyor and the builder's contact details, along with the building permit number. If there is no sign at the property, you can contact Council on 5358 8700 and we can check our system. Works without a building permit will be subject to enforcement action.