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Frequently Asked Questions

What does a Building Surveyor do?


A building surveyor is responsible for making sure your home meets the minimum standards of building regulations; essentially ensuring that it is safe, accessible and energy efficient. Building surveyor’s are authorised to carry out the following: Assess building plans and documentation to ensure they meet regulations, prior to issuing a building permit. Advise if protection work is required to protect adjoining properties from potential damage caused by your building work. Conduct mandatory building inspections to check that the work completed is compliant and as per the plans. Upon completion of building work issue an occupancy certificate. Provide directions to fix Illegal (non-compliant) building work. Serve building notices and orders.
See the Victorian Building Authority for more information




Do I need to appoint a Building Surveyor?


Yes, changes to the Building Act in 2016 mean you are now responsible for selecting your own building surveyor. Your builder may provide suggestions however ultimately it will be you as the applicant who is responsible for engaging someone. Learn more about appointing a building surveyor here




Are your Building Surveyors and Inspectors qualified?


Yes, all of our Building Surveyors and Inspectors are registered with the Victorian Building Authority (VBA).




Does my Builder communicate with you about the build or do I?


You may choose to have your builder act as your agent – if you choose to do so, we will liaise directly with your builder on your behalf with regards to obtaining all necessary documentation. The builder will then contact us when they are ready for the mandatory inspections to take place. However, we also make sure to keep you in the loop via regular email contact. There’s legislated points that we must contact you as well, for example once the building permit is issued and if any amendments are made to the building permit during construction. If you’d like to appoint us as your building surveyor but have your builder act on your behalf, you can download this appointment form and give it to your builder.




How much does a Building Permit cost?


Our fees vary based on the size, type and complexity of the project. Contact us for a fee proposal.




What is the process of obtaining a Building Permit?


Once we have received your application our admin staff will upload the application into our permit system. This will then be assigned to one of our team members who will assess the application. Either yourself or your agent (such as your builder, if acting on your behalf) will be notified of who this is. Following assessment, the team member assigned will be in touch should they require any further information. If we are satisfied that all documentation has been received and approved by the Building Surveyors, the building permit will then be issued.




I am an Owner Builder, can I obtain a Building Permit from BW&A National?


Yes, an owner builder can obtain their own building permit, as long as the cost of works are under $16,000.00 or if you have an Owner Builder’s Certificate through the VBA. More information can be found on the VBA website




What Documentation do I need to provide to obtain a Building Permit?


This varies from each project however we typically require: Architectural Plan (including site plan) Architectural Specifications Copy of Current Title including details of any restrictions/covenants Plan of Subdivision Copy of Planning Permit and Stamped Drawings from Council (if applicable) Engineering Drawing & Computations Soil report Energy Rating report Building Warranty Insurance Certificate OR Owner Builder Certificate of Consent (if applicable) Our team will advise you or your agent if we require anything further to assess your application. If you have any questions about what any of the above documentation is, feel free to contact us.




How long does it take to issue a Building Permit?


Our turnaround times do vary depending on the type of job, however they are typically within 7-10 working days providing we have all necessary documentation. If everything is in order and no further information is required, they can usually be issued sooner.




How do I get a copy of my Building Permit?


We will email you a copy of the building permit once it’s issued. A copy is also sent to your builder, so you can always request it from them if you somehow manage to misplace it. Alternatively, you can contact us directly.




Who do I contact if I have questions about my Building Permit?


Unless you are an Owner/Builder, your first point of call should be your Builder; they are
responsible for managing the project and have a thorough understanding of the construction, the site and the schedule.
If they’re not able to answer the question, they will usually contact us on your behalf.




Do I need a Building Inspection?


Yes. Building inspections are a vital component of construction. During the early stages of building there are a lot of things that can go wrong. Builders are usually very careful but there is always a chance for human error. Building inspections mean an independent third party can run their eyes over the work and ensure that it is compliant to the NCC and other regulations and that it’s being
built according to your permit. The regulations do get changed and updated and it’s impossible for builders to be across every little change however our Inspectors are made aware of legislative changes well in advance, so you’re in safe hands.




What are the mandatory inspections?


The number of mandatory inspections depends on a number of factors, such as the State the proposed building work will take place, along with the type of building work. Using a dwelling constructed in Victoria as an example, the four mandatory inspections are: Completion of excavations, before placing footings Before pouring the footings or slab Completion of framework, and Completion of all building work (also known as a ‘Final’) Other mandatory inspections may include piers, subfloor, retaining walls, fire separation walls, waterproofing (in NSW) and more. Your builder may also request additional non-mandatory inspections such as pre-plaster. As part of our fee proposal, we will advise you of the number of mandatory inspections required for your proposed building work.




Who pays for the Building Inspections?


The cost of mandatory inspections are covered by the home buyer – this is typically included as part of the building costs, however it can vary depending on the Building Contract particulars. We suggest speaking with your builder and confirming if they are included or if they are to be paid in addition to the fixed price sum.




What is checked during a Building Inspection?


Building inspectors are responsible for ensuring that the structure of your home is compliant with the building permit and that the construction meets the NCC (National Construction Code of Australia). We don’t check for aesthetic concerns such as problems with paint colour, tiling and so
on, these issues are the responsibility of your builder.




I am the owner and have received a ‘written direction’, what does this mean?


It is a requirement of the legislation that the relevant building surveyor issue a written direction, also known as a ‘Direction To Fix’ (DTF), to the builder if there is reason to believe that the building work completed fails to comply with the regulations. It is up to the builder to rectify the issues described within the prescribed timeframe on the direction. As the owner, we send you a copy so you are aware of what is happening however you’re not required to take any action as your builder will have also received a copy. If you still have concerns, please feel free to contact us.




When/How do I book an inspection?


Your first inspection can be booked in once your building permit has been approved and the works are ready for the inspection. To book an inspection you can call our office or our Inspections Coordinator on 0418 596 661. Please note we require 48 hours notice to book an inspection.




Do you inspect existing homes?


Unfortunately, BW&A National do not undertake pre-purchase inspections.




Do BW&A National work on Commercial developments?


Yes, we work across a vast range of private and public sectors including (but not limited to)
commercial, residential, hospitality, healthcare, hospitals, industrial, education and more.
If you require more information about the services we provide please contact us.




What is a planning permit?


A Planning Permit (also known as Design Approvals in NSW) is a legal document which gives
permission for you to use a particular piece of land in a certain way under the requirements of the appropriate Municipal Planning Scheme.
For example, you may require a Planning Permit for any works that don’t comply with or have certain requirements within the Planning Scheme. These can include works such as a new dwelling through to a new subdivision project, small outbuildings through to large industrial buildings, Signage through to carpark reduction, and also native vegetation removal.

The local council is responsible for issuing a planning permit however this document does not eliminate the requirement of a Building Permit for construction works.




How can BW&A National help me with Town Planning?


BW&A provide both advice and assistance when it comes to all aspects of Town Planning.

Town Planning Permits can only be applied for and approved by the applicable Municipality. For this to occur an application needs to be lodged with Council including documentation of the proposal and a detailed submission supporting the proposed works.

BW&A can help alleviate the stress and confusion and apply to Council on your behalf. We can then negotiate with Council on your behalf regarding any additional information or concerns that they or any other local government party may have, to ensure smooth sailing and easy processing of your application.




What are Essential Safety Measures?


Essential Safety Measures (ESMs) are a requirement of all commercial buildings. They include (but are not limited to);

Fire extinguishers
Fire hose reels
Fire hydrants
Sprinkler systems
Smoke alarms
Mechanical ventilation
Emergency lighting
Exit signs
Exit doors and paths of travel to exits
If a fire occurs, well maintained ESMs can alert residents and provide them with more time to
safely evacuate the building, reducing the risk to life, whilst also assisting in containing fire.
If you are an owner or owner’s corporation you are legally required to:
Ensure that the buildings ESMs, such as fire detection and alarm systems and fire extinguishers, have been well maintained and can operate when required during an emergency. Keeping fire doors clear of obstructions, closed, and unlocked at all times and ensureing all occupiers know the building’s evacuation plan and fire safety procedures.




Do I need an Essential Safety Measure Audit and can BW&A National provide this?


Essential Safety Measure’s require ongoing care and maintenance. BW&A National provide building owners, property managers and occupiers Essential Safety Measure Audits to ensure that the code compliance and statutory obligations are met with respect to ongoing fire and life safety reliability and maintenance of building Essential Services. This ensures the safe exit of all person(s) from the building/tenancy.

As part of an Essential Safety Measure Audit, a full inspection of the site and the internal building conditions is conducted. We can then provide a comprehensive report listing code deficiencies and omissions, along with rectification suggestions.




What is a Due Diligence Audit?


Legislation changes may require building owners to upgrade buildings to satisfy BCA
requirements. BW&A National can provide advice on upgrades required to satisfy authority and legislation requirements.

Services are offered nationally and include the following:

Due diligence reporting for building owners and prospective owners; detailing significant risk and compliance issues, together with recommendations to achieve compliance.

Advice on compliance with essential services maintenance legislation, including the review of
existing building maintenance regimes and provision of recommendations to ensure compliance with legislation and risk minimisation.

Inspection of existing buildings including the identification of key areas of compliance risk, together with recommendations to achieve compliance.




What is an Accessibly Access Report?


BW&A National provide the assessment of buildings and its facilities to identify areas that may not comply with the Disability Access Code to ultimately improve access and egress for those with a disability, impairment and the ageing population. A comprehensive report is provided following the audit, identifying any areas of non-compliance and suggested recommendations.
Accessibility Consultants are also available to provide a comprehensive review of documentation throughout all phases of new building design, highlighting accessibility deficiencies and provide recommendations to achieve compliance.




What is an NCC Audit?


BW&A National inspects and assesses buildings for compliance with the requirements of the
National Construction Code of Australia (NCC).
Compliance Audits allow owners to recognise areas in which their property is not NCC-compliant and with our suggested building works, make any necessary changes. This way, owners can rest assured that their building is up-to-code and in compliance with all relevant provisions of the state and national legislation, avoiding potential legal proceedings and penalties.




I need to register my swimming pool what do I do?


On 1 December 2019, new laws to improve swimming pool and spa safety came into effect in Victoria. It is now mandatory for owners of land where a swimming pool or spa is located to register their pool or spa with the relevant council. The new laws apply to swimming pools and spas that are capable of holding more than 300 mm (30 cm) of water. This includes permanent pools, above ground pools, indoor pools, hot tubs, bathing or wading pools and some relocatable pools. Relocatable pools that do not consist of multiple components and do not require any assembly are not subject to the barrier requirements. An example of such a product is a small inflatable pool that requires no assembly other than inflation. Pool and spa owners are now also required to obtain and lodge a compliance certificate for their safety barriers. If you are the owner of land on which a pool or spa is located, you must register your pool and spa with the relevant council. You have until the 1st of November 2020 to register your pool with council. Registering your pool is the first step, you will then receive a letter with the date the pool was installed, the applicable standard it needs to be inspected against and when your first certificate of compliance is required to be lodged. You can then choose to use council or a registered building inspector to certify your barrier.
If the pool and barrier don't comply we complete a non-compliance Form 24 which leaves you 60 days to rectify any items on the non-compliance form. Once you have rectified any issues we will inspect again and provide a certificate of compliance for you to lodge with council. Please note that if we issue a non-compliance form and at the end of the 60 days you haven’t rectified the items, we will lodge your noncompliance form to council and they will issue the relevant fine. Pool or spa registration fees:
A one-off fee payable to the relevant council for the registration of your pool or spa:
$31.84*^ Information search fee: This fee enables the council to conduct the appropriate searches to determine the date of
construction of your pool or spa and any associated building permits, which in turn determines the applicable barrier standard. The information search fee only applies to pools or spas constructed before 1 November 2020. $47.24*^ Failure to register swimming pool or spa within relevant time frame up to: $1,652.20^ * Fees are set by the relevant council and will not exceed this amount. Please check the council's website for the fee that applies. ^ These fees and penalty are applicable until 30 June 2021 Please contact us if you have any questions or require further information.




Can a pond or other natural feature be used as part of a pool or spa barrier?


Volumes 1 and 2 of the NCC 2019 require the use of barriers complying with Australian Standard AS 1926.1. AS 1926.1 permits the use of permanent bodies of water with a width greater than
1800 mm, so long as the owner can provide evidence that the body of water is permanent and is not less than 300 mm deep at any time. To determine whether a permanent body of water complies, refer to your Local Council’s building department.