Building works

COVID-19 Response Investment Incentive Policy

Council has adopted the COVID-19 Response Investment Incentive Policy - effective 12 August 2020 until 30 June 2022.

The Policy aims to support small scale development, such as those being considered by “mum and dad” investors, where infrastructure charges may be a barrier. In doing so, it will provide an economic stimulus for the Cairns development and construction industries and local employment across the region.

Read more and check your eligibility for the COVID-19 investment incentive.

If you are thinking of doing any building, remodelling work, extensions or renovating, you may have to apply for Building Development Approval. The web pages below provide general advice about building, swimming pool safety, lodging building approval documentation in Cairns and Council’s involvement with this activity.

Building certification (building permit)

Most building works and structural projects need building certification (also known as a building permit) from a private certifier. More

Building guidelines: contaminant and pollution control

Guidelines and information on managing building activity to prevent pollution and erosion, and to protect our environment. More

Driveways & crossovers

Approvals, technical standards and recommended materials for driveways and crossovers. More

Easements & covenants

Easements and covenants come with conditions that can affect what you may build and what approvals are required. More

Fences & landscaping

Information about boundary and dividing fences, the Neighbourhood Disputes Resolution Act and Queensland's mandatory swimming pool fencing requirements. More

Garages, carports & sheds

A carport, garage or shed requires building certification (approval) before construction begins - even for DIY kit type structures. More

Swimming pools and spas

All new swimming pools and spas require building approval from Council. You must also register your pool or spa with the Queensland Government. Pool safety certificates are required when selling or leasing a property with a pool. More

Siting dispensation (Referral Agency assessment)

Council acts as a referral agency for building works that involve variations to site coverage, building heights and design under the Queensland Development Code and CairnsPlan 2016. More

Tropical building design

Designing for the tropics is essential in our climate. Use our resources to help design a home or building that responds to our environment, climate, local character and community needs. More

Cyclone affected region

The Cairns Regional Council area is a cyclonic region as specified in the Building Code of Australia. Because of this, construction detailing and tie-down requirements are more stringent than in non-cyclonic zones.

Building complaints

Complaints about unlawful building or development work (eg, illegal buildings or structures, swimming pools and fencing) can be submitted in writing to Council, lodged via our online form or you can contact Customer Service to lodge your complaint.

Dial before you Dig

Before you carry out any ground works, you should telephone 1100 or visit to find out what services are underground.


This information is provided as a general guide only. For more information and to discuss your specific requirements, contact Council's Building Services team.

Last updated: 11 January 2021