Does your project need a Building Approval (BA)? – The requirements for building approval for minor building works in the ACT.

The provision for a Building Approval (BA) for minor building works can be difficult to determine in ACT legislation and therefore inconsistency is applied throughout the industry.

With this being said, the occurrence of illegal building works can attract a wider issues for the building owner and head building contractor. Some of these issues include;

  • Voiding building insurance policies should an accident occur.
  • Action from the ACT Government audit team for illegal building works. Fines and other penalties can be imposed against the Head Contractor.
  • Alterations associated with Fire Services not being consistent with base building engineering measures.

The below information outlines some common legislative indicators for a Building Approval associated with minor building works in the ACT.


Building work in the ACT is regulated by the Building ACT 2004 and the Building (General) Regulation 2008, and is defined as;

(a) work in relation to the erection, alteration or demolition of a building, and includes disposal of waste materials generated –

(i) by the alteration of a building other than a building excluded under the regulations; or

(ii) by the demolition of a building (but not part of the building); or

(b) work in relation to repairs of a structural nature.

To determine if a Building Approval is required, it is important to understand that a BA will be required unless specifically noted as exempt from needing a BA. In summary, building works either required a BA or they are exempt from needing a BA.

The below list identifies works that trigger the need for a Building Approval:

  1. Alterations to natural light levels and / or ventilation to the building.
  2. Internal wall modifications (non-structural). A BA will be required in the event fire protection and mechanical ventilation is modified.
  3. Modifications to a fire protection system.
  4. Construction works to fire-escapes , exits and passage ways impacting building exit paths.
  5. Alterations and / or modifications to HVAC systems.
  6. Construction works compromising fire rating levels i.e. To floors, walls and ceilings.
  7. Structural alterations.

Final thoughts…..

In the event you are undertaking building work it would be highly recommended that you engage a Building Certifier for an initial peer review of the documentation. This will further confirm the requirement if a BA is applicable to your build. Due to the potential consequences we see this as money well invested.

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