FAQ & Information Sheets
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.
Here you will find Information Sheets including what is required to apply for planning consent, fees and other various planning provisions and requirements. Also refer to the Forms page and Where to start for further information.
- Planning: Application Requirements for Planning Scheme Consent (185KB)Information for applications for Planning Scheme Consent. Your plans should show as much information as possible, otherwise delays in processing approvals may occur. If you need help deciding what information you should show, please consult Council's Planning Department via phone (08) 9841 9383 or email email@example.com. Depending on the nature of your application additional information may be required than what is listed above. A Planning Officer will contact you if more information is required.
Here you will find Information Sheets, Checklists and our Building Fee Schedule covering everything you need to know about your next building project, large or small. Find information on Dividing Fences at Building Commission - Dividing Fences.
Can I build a new house in Perth and then relocate it to Albany?
An owner builders licence is only granted to the owners of the property where the building is going to be constructed. 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 then can be relocated to a new property and will require either a registered builder or an owner builder licence in the name of the person/people who own the property it is going to be relocated to.
Do I need a soil test for a relocated dwelling?
If the relocated dwelling is to be on stumps, you dont 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.
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 planning consent 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. 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 you 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 to be over 500mm in height. (Note that Structural Engineers Certification is required in both cases). Please refer to Retaining Walls information sheet.
Do I need planning consent for a retaining wall or earthworks?
Yes, if 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.
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 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.
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 roof spans greater than 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.
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 Planning Scheme Consent).
Please refer to the State Law Publisher website 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 State Law Publisher website 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 not exceeding 20m2. Please refer to the State Law Publisher website 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 requirements.
Do I need a building permit to place a sea/shipping container on my lot?
If you modify the container, you will need to apply for a building permit. Please also refer to Non Habitable Structures Policy below.
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 planning on 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;
- 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 structure less than or equal to 1.8m.
For further information, you can contact the Water Corporation by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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 (Anthony Steele) on 9842 8366 for further information.
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.
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) is permitted on a lot size 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 188.8.131.52 Vol Two BCA click here to view the Department of Planning website.
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 the 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 184.108.40.206/5/6/7.
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.
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.
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. Planning consent may be required if the tank is to be located in a Special Residential, Special Rural, Rural Small Holding or Conservation Zoned lot. Planning consent may also be required 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.
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.
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. Planning Scheme Consent may be required if earthworks in excess of 600mm are required; if there is retaining required 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?
Any construction capable of holding more than 300mm of water is required to meet the same standards as a swimming pool.
For further information refer to The Building Act 2011 (WA), and to the State Law Publisher website 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'.
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 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 registration fee (currently $130). An annual fee will be charged according to the risk involved - currently this ranges from $115 for low risk (continental breakfast)and $250 for 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.
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 (and this shall 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.
If the Bed and Breakfast is proposed in an existing dwelling facilities for disabled access are not necessary. However if a new house is being built with a portion allocated for use as a B&B then disabled facilities must be provided (Is then classed as Building Class 1b). Refer to the Building Code of Australia Vol One. Part A3 Classification of Buildings and Structures A3.2 (b).
- Council Policy: Planning: Bed and Breakfast Accommodation (168KB)This document is an extract of the Local Planning Scheme No 1 Policy Manual. “Bed and Breakfast Accommodation” means a dwelling, used by a resident of the dwelling, to provide accommodation for persons away from their normal place of residence on a short-term commercial basis and includes the provision of breakfast.
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 fences, patio posts etc. must be at least 1.8m from leach drains 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 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, patio posts etc. 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.
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.
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.
- Council Policy: Planning: Temporary Accommodation (107KB)This document is an extract of the Local Planning Scheme No 1 Policy Manual.‘Temporary Caravan Accommodation’ refers to owners of land living for a limited time period, within a caravan at their property where their dwelling is being constructed.
I want to open or take over an existing food business. How do I do this?
All food business must be registered with the City of Albany. It is best to check with Planning services to ensure that the zoning of the site is suitable for a food business and to see if any planning approvals are required. It would be best to contact the Environmental Health team on 9841 9333 or by email email@example.com to discuss your proposal and to ensure that all approvals are in place prior to opening your food business.
Can I produce food from my home for sale to the public?
First of all planning approval will be required. Restrictions on the type of foods and the amount of food handling do apply and the business will also be required to be registered as a food business.
Please refer to 'Food premises and food' and 'Home produced food' information sheets below. for further information, view the Public Health Department website.
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.
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.
What is the 'R' code for my property and what does it mean?
The Residential Density Code or "R-code" refers to the amount of dwellings that are allowed on land within the Residential zone (i.e. the density of development). The number of houses allowed per hectare increases with the number of the R-Code e.g. more houses per hectare at R60 (approx. 66) than R20 (approx. 22) - which also means for R60, 1 house per 150m2; and for 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 states which R-Code applies to each lot.
Is my property heritage listed and what does that mean if I want to build or renovate?
Please refer to the Heritage sections of on the Where to start page
- Council Policy: Planning: Heritage Protection (107KB)This document is an extract of the Local Planning Scheme No 1 Policy Manual. “Heritage” - Buildings, structures or places having aesthetic, historic, scientific or social value for past, present or future generations. “Heritage Listed Building” - Buildings that are listed within Council’s Municipal Heritage Inventory, Local Planning Scheme 1 or on the State Heritage Inventory.
The map below shows new roads and their names as approved by Landgate that have been constructed in new sub-divisions