FAQ (Building & Planning)

There are different requirements for planning and building. On this page you will find information sheets and answers to Frequently Asked Questions that will help you understand what is required for your development and how you should go about applying for approval.

FAQ Topics

Click on an item below to jump to that specific FAQ Topic.

Ancillary accommodation (granny flat).

Ancillary Accommodation means a self-contained dwelling on the same lot as a single house, which may be attached to, integrated with, or detached from the single house (as per Residential Design Codes). Ancillary accommodation may not need planning consent if it complies with the R-Codes and is in a Residential zone, otherwise an Application for Development Approval is required.

  • The lot is to be greater than 450m2
  • A maximum internal floor area of 70m2 (not inclusive of a garage, carport or verandas)
  • Ancillary Accommodation shall be connected to the same effluent disposal system as the main house

For further requirements refer to our Ancillary Accommodation policy.

Planning: Ancillary Accommodation Policy

Non-habitable structures (outbuildings, sheds etc)

Non-habitable structures are not attached to a dwelling and commonly known as outbuildings, sheds, gazebos, carports, sea containers and shade houses. To check what size shed you are permitted to build on your property, please firstly check your zone and lot size here then refer to the Non-Habitable Structures policy listed below. You will be required to apply for both planning consent and a building permit in most cases. Please contact us for further information.

Planning: Non-Habitable Structures Policy

Fencing

The City of Albany Fencing Local Law 2010 states;

"A person shall not, without the written consent of the Building Surveyor, erect a free standing fence greater than 1200mm in height, within the front setback area of a residential lot within the district".

A dividing fence is a fence that separates the land of different owners whether the fence is on the common boundary of adjoining lands or on a line other than the common boundary. A dividing fence does not include a retaining wall.

Dividing fences are regulated by the Dividing Fences Act 1961 (WA) and not controlled by Local Government other than what is contained in the Local Law.

Council will not arbitrate disputes between neighbours on dividing fences, legal advice should be sought for those experiencing problems with neighbours.

Front fences in the Residential zone should comply with the Residential Design Codes.

Also see Building Permits for when you might need one for a fence.

Fencing Local Law 2010

Planning: Fencing Information Sheet - Front and Dividing Information Sheet

Relocated Dwellings

Can I build a new house in Perth and then relocate it to Albany?

You can ‘relocate’ an existing house to another property. 

A relocated building is completely different to a transportable building, it is – an existing house that has been built on a property with the correct building permits etc. that were required at the time of construction. It can be relocated to a new property and will require a building permit issued to either a registered builder or a licenced owner builder.

Note:

  • An owner builder licence is only granted to the owners of the property where the building is going to be constructed or relocated to.
  • A demolition licence will be required to ‘remove’ the house from its original location.

Do I need a soil test for a relocated dwelling?

If the relocated dwelling is to be on stumps, you don’t need a soil test.

Can I build a new house in Perth and then transport it to Albany?

You can’t build a new home in Perth to transport to Albany unless you are a registered builder and specialise as a transportable building company.

Planning: Relocated Dwellings Policy

Earthworks/Retaining walls

A retaining wall is a structure designed and constructed to support any material, usually soil, where the natural ground level has been altered by cutting (lowering) or filling (raising).

A fence should not be used to retain soil unless it has been specifically designed to do so.

How close can I build to a retaining wall?

If you are building on the low side of a retaining wall, you can locate the building (house or shed or garage) close to the wall but you must ensure you don't undermine the footings; e.g. if you are building on the high side of a 1m retaining wall you should generally be 1m away for single storey buildings or 1.5m away for two storey buildings - any closer would require engineer's certification. Please refer to Retaining Walls information sheet.

Do I need to contact my neighbours if I build a retaining wall on my boundary?

A retaining wall over 500mm will need development approval and neighbours will be invited to comment. You will also need to contact your neighbours and have them complete a BA20 form if you are cutting and the retaining wall is on the boundary, as it may affect the integrity of structures on their property.  The BA20 form is lodged at the same time as the Building Permit application.  For further information on Residential Design Codes Part 5, Cl 5.3.8 Retaining Walls click here to view the Department of Planning website.

Do I need engineers certification for a retaining wall that is 1m high?

You will need a Structural Engineers Certification for a retaining wall for: any cut; and for fill over 500mm. Please refer to Retaining Walls information sheet.

Do I need a building permit for a retaining wall?

Yes, if you are cutting in and require a retaining wall you will need a building permit, regardless of the depth. If you are filling you will need a building permit if the retaining wall is over 500mm in height. (Note that Structural Engineers Certification is required in both cases). Please refer to Retaining Walls information sheet.

Do I need development approval for a retaining wall or earthworks?

Yes, if any of the following applies:

  • The retaining wall is on the lot boundary or within 1m of the lot boundary and is higher than 500mm; For further information on Residential Design Codes Part 5, Cl 5.3.8 Retaining Walls click here to view the Department of Planning website.
  • For any excavation or filling behind the street setback line (For further information on Residential Design Codes Part 5, Cl 5.3.7 Site Works click here to view the Department of Planning website);
  • Excavation or filling between the street and building, or within 3m of the street alignment, whichever is the lesser, exceeds 500mm, unless where necessary to provide for pedestrian or vehicle access, drainage works or natural light for a dwelling. For further information on Residential Design Codes Part 5, Cl 5.3.7 Site Works click here to view the Department of Planning website.
  • If excavation or fill exceeds 600mm. For further information on the Local Planning Scheme 1 CI 8.2. (a) click here to view the Department of Planning website.

Do I need planning consent to construct a dam?

Check with the City of Albany Planning team by lodging a site plan and letter explaining the  proposed use for the dam. If it is for farm purposes, the Local Planning Scheme exempts the requirement for planning consent, however, if the dam is within a water catchment area or close to a river or creek it may need approval. For further information on the Local Planning Scheme 1 CI 8.2. (h) click here to view the Department of Planning website.

Building Services: Retaining Walls Information Sheet

Cubby Houses

What approvals do I need to build a cubby house?

Cubby houses (as well as pergolas, play fixtures and dog kennels) are not included in the definition of building and are exempt from planning control. A building permit will be required, however, if the cubby house structure exceeds 10m2 or has an overall height of 2.4m. For further information on planning controls see Residential Design Codes Part 5, Cl 7.3 Explanatory Guidelines, click here to view the Department of Planning website. Also see Building Regulations 2012 Schedule 4 Cl2 Item 1 on State Law Publisher website.

Engineer's Certification

When will I need to provide Engineer's certification with my building permit application?

Engineer's certification is required in the following instances:

  • Sheds and patios (for all engineered pine roof trusses; and steel trusses that span over 6m).
  • Dwelling (soil classification and compaction certificate. A structural engineer will assess wind rating, soil classification and footing details. Note: soil test not required if dwelling/building on stumps).
  • All second storey's (including additions and mezzanine floors).
  • Solid masonry fences and walls over 1m (Structural Engineers certification).
  • Retaining walls - fill over 500mm and any cut (Structural Engineers Certification, soil testing).
  • Water tank over 5000 litres.
  • Decks more than 1400mm in height.
  • Pylon signs.

Building Permits

Do I need a building permit for my BBQ or letterbox?

No. The City of Albany does not require a permit for a letterbox or bbq.

Do I need a building permit for my fence?

As per the Building Regulations, any fence, screen or similar will need a building permit for any masonry (brick, concrete etc) wall over 0.75m (note that Structural Engineers certification required over 1m).

If constructed of anything other than masonry, a building permit is required if height is over 1.8m (note that structural detail may be required if fence or wall is over 1.2m - if the fence is a front fence and solid above 1.2m it will also need Development Approval).

Please refer to the WA Legislation to download the Building Regulations 2012 PDF document - see Schedule 4 CI2 Item 4.

Do I need a building permit for a cubby house?

A building permit will only be required if overall height exceeds 2.4m and the floor area exceeds 10m2. Please refer to the WA Legislation to download the Building Regulations 2012 PDF document - see Schedule 4 CI2 Item 1.

Do I need building approval for a pergola?

If associated with a dwelling, a building permit will only be required if more than 2.4m in height and covers an area exceeding 20m2. Please refer to the WA Legislation to download the Building Regulations 2012 PDF document - see Schedule 4 CI2 Item 7.

Do I need a building permit for a garden shed?

A building permit will only be required if overall height exceeds 2.4m and the floor area exceeds 10m2.

Do I need a building permit for a shadecloth shelter?

A building permit will only be required if overall roof cover exceeds 20m2 and/or height exceeds 2.4m high. (This is the same as for a Pergola).

When do I need a registered builder?

You will need a registered builder for any work over $20,000 (private or commercial).

Do I need to apply for a building permit if I am just replacing an existing structure?

Yes. Note: Energy Efficiency may also be affected by building additions/replacement etc. Check with your builder to ensure that building work complies with current regulations.

Do I need a building permit to place a sea/shipping container on my lot?

Yes.  Please also refer to Non Habitable Structures Policy.

How long is a building permit valid for?

Two years with options to apply for extensions beyond that time.

What do I do if my builder does not complete his work and I have to get another builder to finish?

The original builder will need to complete a Notice of Cessation (BA8) which advises the work completed and work not completed; along with all certificates or proof of tests completed to date of cessation. The new builder will need to apply for a building permit for the remainder of work.

Do I need Water Corporation Approval when I apply for my building permit?

Water Corporation approval is required when you are carrying out any building or renovation activity on your property. They check your plans to ensure that existing services are protected and can be easily accessed for maintenance and emergencies; and that the right water and sewer connections will be available to service the building or development. There are some structures that are exempt from obtaining this approval. These include:

  • Demountable above ground pools and spas;
  • Pergolas;
  • Patios;
  • Gazebos;
  • Lightweight (demountable) sheds with floor area not more than 42m2;
  • Temporary buildings on construction sites (including site offices);
  • Refits/additions under a main roof where there is no change to the water or wastewater appliances;
  • Retaining wall less than or equal to 1.2m; and
  • Masonry structures less than or equal to 1.8m.

For further information, you can contact the Water Corporation by email: building.services@watercorporation.com.au.

Demolition Permits

How long does a demolition permit last for?

You have 2 years to complete.

What is required to accompany an application for demolition permit?

You need a site plan showing location of building to be demolished; existing services; and if partial demolition, elevations can be provided. Note, Water Corporation approval is not required.

Do I need planning consent before applying for a demolition permit?

A demolition does not require planning consent unless the building or structure to be demolished is listed; or the area it is within is listed on a Heritage Register (either Local or State) or has other heritage implications. You should check with our enquiry staff to see if this applies to your project.

Do I need a demolition permit to remove a house?

Yes, a demolition permit is always needed for a house. You do not have to use a registered demolition contractor unless the building contains more than one storey and/or contains more than 10m2 asbestos.

Do I need a demolition permit to remove my shed?

A demolition permit is not required for a domestic 10a structure (shed) that has a floor area under 40m2 and/or less than 10m2 asbestos. A registered contractor is required for any commercial structure. Contact Worksafe on 9842 8366 for further information.

Owner Builder

Do I have to be registered as an owner builder to build my own shed?

If the value of the build is less than $20,000 you can build without registering as an owner builder.

How do I register as an owner builder?

You register with the Building Commission. For further information, click here to view the Building Commission website.

Chalets

How many chalets can I have on my General Agriculture or Priority Agriculture zoned property?

You need to be aware that when you have 4 - 10 chalets on the one property, one chalet must comply with disability access standards. On a lot zoned General Agriculture or Priority Agriculture, 5 units (10 guest bedrooms) are permitted on a lot between 5-10 hectares; and 8 units (16 bedrooms) on a lot greater than 10 hectares. For further information on the Local Planning Scheme 1 CIause 5.5.16.3 click here to view the Department of Planning website.

Boundary Setbacks

How close can I build to my boundary?

Dwellings and outbuildings - check the zone first, if Residential refer to the Residential Design Codes; if other zones - refer to Local Planning Scheme 1. The acceptable setback for building bulk in a residential zone varies and is dependent on the length and height of the wall. In addition, if the finished floor level is above 500mm the acceptable setback for privacy varies depending on the use of that room i.e. where there are major openings to bedrooms and studies setback (up to R50) is 4.5m; for major opening to habitable rooms other than bedrooms and studies 6m; and unenclosed outdoor active habitable spaces (deck, balcony etc) 7.5m.

For further information on Residential Design Codes Tables 1, 2a and 2b, and Clauses 5.1.3 and 5.4.1 C1.1 click here to view the Department of Planning website.

For further information on the Local Planning Scheme 1 Table 7 page 84 or schedules at the rear, click here to view the Department of Planning website.

How close can a patio or carport be built to the boundary?

A free standing patio or an 'open' patio attached to a house may have the posts on the boundary but the Building Code requires that the gutters be a minimum of 500mm from the boundary. As a summary, there must always be 500mm separation between the house and the boundary and where this cannot be between the house and the patio/carport (because it is joined), it must be between the patio/carport and the boundary. Refer to the Building Code of Australia Volume 2 Clauses 3.7.1.4/5/6/7.

Note: You may need Development Approval to have the posts on the boundary or closer than 1m, so check with us for advice.

Home Business

Do I need to apply for approval to offer tutoring from home?

This would require approval as a home business or home occupation. As people will be visiting the home, we would ask that you limit the numbers to ensure that there is no more impact on the surrounding neighbours than what might ordinarily be expected of a residential dwelling i.e. appointment only, limit daily visitors etc. Each application would have to be considered on its own merit and approval cannot be guaranteed prior to assessment. Also see Home Business information sheet below.

Home Businesses Information Sheet

Water tanks

What permits will I need for a water tank?

You will need a building permit (including engineer's certification) if the tank is larger than 5000 litres. Development Approval may be required:

  1. If the tank is to be located in a Special Residential, Rural Residential, Rural Small Holding or Conservation Zoned lot; or
  2. Depending on the positioning of the tank e.g. if at ground level it is generally acceptable to be located close to a residential boundary, but not within the front setback.

Engineering details should be provided with the tank at purchase. This should state if a compaction certification is required (this certification is provided by a Structural Engineer). If it is required, this certificate should be lodged with the Notice of Completion.

Signs

Will I need a sign licence for my home business sign, considering the home business is already approved and the City of Albany Local Planning Scheme exempts one sign for this purpose up to 0.5m2?

A sign licence will still be required - if the sign is to be attached to a fence or dwelling, for example, we need to ensure it is secured safely. Please refer to Signs Policy below for further information.  Find the Sign Licence application on the Building Services page.

Planning: Signs Policy

Provision of toilets for public use

Do I need to provide toilet facilities for the public for my restaurant/fast food outlet?

In a Class 6 building (restaurants, cafes, bars) public toilets are not required if the building "accommodates" no more than 20 people (i.e. Patrons only). The need to provided staff toilets will still apply.

Refer to the Building Code of Australia Part F2 - Sanitary and Other Facilities Table F 2.3.

Swimming Pools/Spas/Ponds

Definition of Swimming Pool (as per NCC2014 Building Code of Australia - Volume One): means any excavation or structure containing water and used primarily for swimming, wading, paddling, or the like, including a bathing or wading pool, or spa.

Do I need a licence for my swimming pool, spa or pond?

A building permit is required under the Building Act and the Regulations prior to installing, constructing or altering swimming and spa pool barriers, including windows, door and gates that provide access to a swimming or spa pool area. A building permit is also required for the construction of swimming and spa pools. Development Approval may be required if earthworks exceed 600mm; if there is retaining greater than 500mm on or within 1m of a boundary; or if located within the front setback of a residential property.

What sort of barrier do I need for my swimming pool or spa?

Compliant safety barriers are required for in ground, above ground, and indoor swimming and spa pools that contain water that is more than 300mm deep.

Do I need a barrier for a child's paddle pool?

A portable wading pool that does not contain water that is more than 300mm deep does not require a mandatory child safety barrier.

Do I need to comply with safety standards for a garden pond or farm dam?

You will only need to comply with swimming pool safety standards if the primary use is for swimming, however, contact our building surveyors for confirmation if in doubt.

For further information refer to The Building Act 2011 (WA), and to the WA Legislation to download the Building Regulations 2012 PDF document. Also refer to Australian Standard AS 1926.1-1993 Part 1: Fencing for swimming pools.

See Residential Design Codes Cl 3.7 by clicking here to view the Department of Planning website.

Also, refer to the Building Commission website to access the fact sheet 'Thinking of installing a swimming pool or spa?' and their free publication 'Rules for Pools and Spas'.

Bed and Breakfast

What is the process involved in applying to operate a Bed and Breakfast from my home?

Development Approval is required to add this additional use to your dwelling.

It is a simple process of changing the use of the building and as part of the development assessment process, the application is referred to our building and health departments. Listed below are some requirements for your information (these are assessed during the process and you will be advised of these at approval but it is in your interest to be aware of them prior to application).

The use is considered a 'vulnerable land use' with regard to fire protection so, if you are in a Bush Fire Prone Area, you may need a Bushfire Management Plan prepared.  Please check with our enquiry staff if you will need to arrange this.

The health team will need to inspect the property for initial approval and they will contact you to arrange this.  There are no fees associated with this initial inspection and no forms need to be completed.  After Development Approval is granted, you will need to contact the health team for the final inspection.   If food is provided you will need to register as a food business which means you will need to complete a registration form and pay the current registration fee.  An annual fee will be charged according to the risk involved - this fee varies in value dependent on the risk (i.e. low risk (continental breakfast) or medium risk (bacon and eggs).  For very low risk there may be no need for registration, however, this should be discussed at the initial inspection. To find out which fee may apply, please contact one of our enquiry staff.

What specific standards are required within my home for a Bed and Breakfast?

Additional on-site car parking bays at the ratio of 1 bay per bedroom are to be provided (which should not interfere with vehicular access). The parking bays should be shown on the site plan to be submitted with the application.

Smoke alarms are to be installed and must comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 2 requirements – e.g. the BCA requires smoke alarms to be installed in each bedroom and every corridor or hallway associated with a bedroom and to be connected to evacuation lighting.

If the Bed and Breakfast is proposed in an existing dwelling, facilities for disabled access are not necessary. However if additions to an existing house or a complete new house is being proposed with a portion allocated for use as a B&B then disabled facilities must be provided (the building is then classified as Class 1b building). Refer to the Building Code of Australia Vol One. Part A3 Classification of Buildings and Structures A3.2 (b).

Planning: Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Policy

Sewered Property vs On-site Effluent Disposal

Is sewer available at my property?

The City of Albany internal mapping reference system (Intramaps) may show details of sewer connection points, however it is best to contact Water Corporation on 13 13 95 to confirm if sewer is available.

When is an application required?

In areas where reticulated sewerage is not available, on-site disposal of wastewater is required. An Application to Construct or Install an Apparatus for the Treatment of Sewage in accordance with the Health (Treatment of Sewage and Disposal of Effluent and Liquid Waste) Regulations 1974 must be lodged every time you intend to construct and install an apparatus for on-site wastewater disposal.

For further information click here to view the Public Health website.

What type of on-site effluent system do I need to install?

You can choose from many different wastewater systems. However, it is important to check with the Environmental Health team for specific requirements that may exist in your area. It is possible that you may only be able to choose from a limited range of products due to the soil type, size of the block, distance to water courses and bores and the local requirement to retain nutrients onsite. An assessment of the site conditions may be required and this should be undertaken in winter months or at high tide in tidal influenced areas.

More common systems available to collect, treat and dispose wastewater include: septic tanks – leach drain systems, soak wells, aerobic treatment units (ATUs), grey water treatment systems (GTS) and composting toilets.

For further information click here to view the Public Health website.

Is the system I wish to install approved by the Department of Health?

It is best to ensure that the septic system, grey water system or alternative treatment unit is approved for use by the Department of Health.

For further information click here to view the Public Health website.

Can I build over a septic and leach drains?

All structures including buildings, footings, retaining walls, sealed or paved area, fences, patio posts etc. or any boundary must be at least 1.8m from leach drains or soak wells and 1.2m away from septic tanks. A patio roof may be located over the septic tank (so long as posts are at correct distance from it) but no roof cover is permitted over leach drains. This allows for maximum exposure to sun and to allow for evaporation.

For further information click here to view the Public Health website.

Can I build over or near an Alternative Treatment Unit (ATU)?

All structures including fences (open or closed), buildings, paths, drives, carports, patio posts etc or any boundary must be at least 1.2m away from tanks and 0.5m from irrigation fields. A patio roof may be located over the ATU tank (so long as posts are at correct distance from it) but no roof cover is permitted over the irrigation field. This allows for maximum exposure to the sun to allow for evaporation.

For further information click here to view the Public Health website.

Asbestos

Is asbestos safe and do I need approval to remove asbestos?

Left undisturbed in buildings, asbestos cement building products pose little risk to health. As such there is no need to remove or to coat asbestos cement materials that are in good condition. However any damaged asbestos products do need to be removed and disposed of accordingly. Anyone removing more than 10 square metres of asbestos must undertake training prior to applying for a Restricted Asbestos Removal License from WorkSafe. Handling asbestos is to be in compliance with the Health (Asbestos) Regulations, the Occupational Safety and Health Regulations 1996, the Code of Practice for the Safe Removal of Asbestos 2005 and the Environmental Protection (Controlled Waste) Regulations 2004. Please refer to the 'Asbestos Removal & Disposal' information sheet.

Health: Asbestos and asbestos containing material (ACM) removal & disposal procedure information sheet

Caravans

Can I have a friend or family member stay in a caravan on my property?

Under the Caravan Park and Camping Grounds Regulations 1997 it is illegal to live in a caravan without Council approval. You may however camp on land which you own or have a legal right to occupy for up to 3 consecutive nights in any period of 28 consecutive days. Compliance with various regulations during these 3 nights is still required (effluent disposal, noise, etc.).

Can I live in a caravan while I build my house (i.e. Temporary Caravan Accommodation)?

Temporary Caravan Accommodation is not permitted unless Planning Consent to it is granted by the City of Albany. If consent granted, conditions apply. Please refer to the 'Temporary Accommodation' information sheet.

Planning: Temporary Accommodation Policy

Drainage Easements

What if we wish to modify the ground level within a drainage easement?

Earthworks may require development approval. If the manhole is a City of Albany access manhole (i.e. diameter 1050mm) you will need to install a riser to bring it to the surface if you are filling over the current level.

If, after filling, you bring the riser (liner) up to ground level on the 1050mm pit, the City of Albany would arrange to visit the site and inspect it to ensure compliance (you will need to re-grout around the lid).

The 600mm liner is effectively your connection point and your responsibility; if you wish to bury it that is your choice however we always recommend they remain accessible for your own maintenance.

What distance must be maintained from man holes and connection points within a Drainage Easement?

A minimum of 2m clearance should be maintained from any manhole.

Drainage Easement FAQs

Flag Poles

Are there any restrictions regarding flag poles?

There are no planning restrictions in place for flag poles. A building permit is required when the flag pole exceeds 3m in height.

R-Code

What is the 'R' code for my property and what does it mean?

The Residential Density Code or ‘R-code’ refers to the number of dwellings that are allowed on land within the Residential zone (density of development). The number of houses allowed per hectare is relative to the number of the R-Code – the higher the R-Code, the higher the density eg. more houses per hectare at R60 (approx. 66) than R20 (approx. 22) (R60, 1 house per 150m2; and R20, 1 house per 450m2). Refer to the State Planning Policy ‘Residential Design Codes’ for more detailed information. The City of Albany Local Planning Scheme 1 maps show which R-Code applies to each lot.

Please refer to the What's my Property Zoning page, or to Department of Planning, Local Planning Schemes (Maps) and for State Planning Policy  'Residential Design Codes'.

Trading in Public Places

Permits are required for street traders, fixed location traders, to operate an outdoor eating facility and market operators in accordance with the City of Albany Activities on Thoroughfares and Public Places and Trading Local Law 2011.

Trading in Public Places Policy

Application for Permit

Activities on Thoroughfares and Public Places and Trading Local Law 2011