Building certification (building permit)

Building certification (also known as a building permit) is needed before you start construction on most types of domestic or commercial building works.  This applies whether you are doing the building work yourself or using a licensed builder.

Most building works require certification, including but not limited to:

  • new dwellings
  • alterations and additions to existing buildings (including new roofs)
  • house removal and relocation
  • demolitions
  • garages, carports and sheds (including the DIY kit type, because Cairns is in a cyclonic region)
  • roofed patios, gazebos, pergolas and shade sails (including the DIY kit type)
  • fences over 2 metres in height above the natural ground level
  • retaining walls over 1 metre in height above natural ground level or within 1.5m of a building or other retaining wall
  • swimming pools, spas and pool fences

You will need to engage a private building certifier to assess if the proposed work complies with the Building Act 1975 and associated regulations and building standards.  All building certifiers must be registered with the Queensland Building and Construction Commission. Council does not do building certification and we cannot recommend any particular private certifiers. The Queensland Building and Construction Commission offers a Finding a Licensed Certifier service.

Note: if you are building over or near relevant infrastructure (including sewers, water mains, storm water drains and combined sanitary drains), you may also need to obtain Referral Agency permission from Council.

Building approval records

Building certifiers must lodge approval documents, plans and inspection details with Council within legislated timeframes. We keep these records for access by current and future owners.

The particular documents that a building certifier must lodge include:

  • The building application and associated documentation (Planning Act Form 2)
  • Notice of engagement (Form 56)
  • The decision notice (Form 6)
  • Final inspection certificate (Form 21), (Form 17) or certificate of classification (Form 11)
  • A copy of the plans, drawings and specifications and other stamped, approved documents
  • Other documents, including a list of required fire safety installations and required special fire services applying to the building work certificates relied on to decide the application and information relied on to decide the application in relation to local government easements, encumbrances or estates or interests in land likely to be relevant to the application.

If you are unsure about the status of a building approval, you can order a Land Record Search Request ( PDF, 0.15 MB ) (permit search) through Council - select the relevant category - or contact Council on 1300 69 22 47 for assistance.

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Last updated: 14 December 2020