FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Process

What documents do I need to provide to get a quote?


To be able to provide a quote, Building Approvals & Advice requires working drawings from licensed professionals. Please email your professional plans to info@buildingaaa.com.au or use the form on our pricing page.




What is an RFI?


RFI stands for Request for Information, sometimes also called a list of requirements. This document outlines all items required by the certifier to issue an approval.




Can I start the building work before I get approval?


No. The building work cannot start until the approval has been issued by the certifier and lodged with your local council.




How long does it take to get an approval?


It depends on every job as an approval can’t be issued until all items required in the RFI have been provided. Once all documents received, we tend to issue the approval within 3 to 5 business days.




What is a Form 57?


A Form 57 is a document sent 3 months before the lapsing date to remind the applicant that the building work must be finalised within the remaining time period.




What are the energy efficiency requirements for a dwelling?


A minimum of 6-star energy equivalence rating is required for new dwellings, townhouses and new renovations to existing dwellings or townhouses. The energy equivalence rating of a new dwelling is determined by the design of its building shell (roof, walls, windows and floors). Energy efficient dwellings can offer better comfort and on-going savings by reducing energy use for cooling and heating. More info on ‘Six Star Energy Efficiency Rating Fact Sheet http://www.hpw.qld.gov.au/SiteCollectionDocuments/SixStarEnergyEfficiencyRatingFactSheet.pdf




Is a licence required for demolition work?


A QBCC contractor licence is not required when demolishing / removing an entire house or structure only. However it is required when the demolition is carried out as part of erection, construction, renovation, alteration, extension, improvement or repair of a building. More info on the QBCC website - Demolition




How long is the building approval valid for at Building Approvals and Advice?


At Building Approvals and Advice, the building approval is valid for 12 months. For pools, retaining walls and demolition work, the approval lapses after 6 months. If the building work is not completed before the lapsing date, an extension of time may be granted.




What is the process to get a building approval?


Please view the process below




What is a Development Application?


A Development Application (also called Town Planning application) is an application made under the Planning Act 2016 (Schedule 2 of the Act) for a development approval such as:

  • Carrying out building work (building, repairing, altering, underpinning, etc.) that are not considered Accepted Development under the local planning scheme.
  • Carrying out operational work (activities that alter the shape or form of land)
  • Carrying out plumbing or drainage work
  • Reconfiguring a lot (also called a subdivision)
  • Making a material change of use of premises (for example, starting a new use, re-establishing a use that has been abandoned or changing the intensity or scale of the use)
Development approvals and Building approvals are separate from one another. This means that you may need to apply for Development approval, or a building approval, or both depending on your proposed development or land use.




Does Building Approvals and Advice certify pre-existing structures?


Building Approvals and Advice only certify new building works. However, we can refer you to certifiers specialized in pre-existing structures.




What is a BAL?


BAL is the acronym for Bushfire Attack Level, which is graded on the severity and risk for a project’s potential exposure to ember attack, radiant heat and direct flame contact in a bushfire prone area. Design and construction will necessitate compliance with the Australian Standard AS3959. The higher the level of bushfire attack the property is exposed to, the more restricted the material selection and installation requirements will become.




What is the combustible cladding checklist?


It is a new regulation which started on the 1st of October 2018 and requires building owners to register their buildings if they meet the following requirements:

  • a class 2 – 9
  • are of a type A or B construction
  • built or have had the cladding altered after 1 January 1994 but before 1 October 2018
For more information and to register, check out this link.




What is a Form 34?


Form 34 is filled out by the Building Industry Professionals and completes Part 2 of the combustible cladding checklist. Check out this link to find out which professionals are on the list




What is the difference between a Form 15 & Form 16?


A Form 15 is to certify that the design is compliant where as a Form 16 is to certify that the installation or inspection of a stage or aspect is compliant.




Did you know some of the Australian Standards referenced in the NCC are changing with the NCC 2019 (Schedule 4)?


For example, AS3959 2009 in NCC 2016 – AS3959 2018 in NCC 2019. Check out the Australian Building Codes Board website to view / download the NCC 2019.




What are the first 10 things your certifier checks when conducting an assessment?





Did you know that Council have an auditing program?


Council have an auditive program that selects properties at random to ensure, as Brisbane grows, it is maintaining high quality and attractive design. For more info check out this fact sheet.




Who is ultimately responsible for the sign off of the installation?


"The installer provides a Form 16 and the certifier issues the final certificate. The installer is responsible for the works being installed in accordance with the relevant codes and standards. The certifier may conduct a final inspection to verify before issue of the final certificate" Extract from QBCC Fact Sheet "Tradie Tour, Metal Roofing Webinar 19 September 2019"




When does the NCC update come into effect?


It is important to note that a 12 months transition period ending 30 April 2020 applies to the energy efficiency provisions of 3.12 of Volume Two.




I'm designing / building in Queensland. What needs an approval?


As per the Building Regulation 2006 - all building work in Queensland requires approval, except for the accepted development listed in Schedule 1.





Pools

Is my pool compliant?


Some of the main requirements for pool fences are listed below: - A compliant CPR sign (Guideline 8) must be displayed near the pool or attached to the pool fence
- Pool gates must be self-closing and self-latching and open away from the pool area - The minimum height of the fence from finished ground level to the top of the barrier is 1200mm. - Climbable objects, that reduce the effective height of the fence and are within the additional clear area, are non compliant. - The maximum allowable gap underneath the fence is 100mm. - Windows into the pool area may be required to be screened or restricted to 100mm openings if the sill of the window is less than 1800mm to ground level in the pool area.




What are the requirements for pool or spa removal?


In order to be decommissioned, a swimming pool or a spa (located on private property) requires significant structural demolition work to remove the coping and to make it incapable of holding water to a depth of 300mm. In that case, a demolition permit issued by a certifier is required. Once finalized, the swimming pool needs to be removed from the Pool Safety Register through the QBCC.




How long is your pool fencing covered by a Form 17?


A pool final certificate (Form 17) for a non-shared pool is valid for 2 years from date of issue (by a building certifier). When buying or selling a property with a non-shared pool, a pool safety inspector must issue a Form 23 if the pool final certificate is no longer valid. The Form 23 is valid for 2 years for a non-shared pool from date of issue. (As per the QBCC “selling a property with a pool” fact sheet)




Do my new pool and my new fence require separate approvals?


Your approval covers both the fence and the pool. Pool safety laws apply to any container that can hold over 300ml of water. If your project involves separate contractors for pool and fence be sure to liaise with both about the fill date so the fence is constructed in time.




How can I keep my pool safe and compliant?


All regulated pools require - compliant barrier - building approval - registered on the Queensland Government Pool Register - current pool safety certificate (in case the property is to be sold or leased)




What are the approval rules for a retaining wall adjacent to a pool?


Retaining Walls within 1.5m to another structure or over 1m in height are required to be engineered and inspected by an RPEQ engineer. A retaining wall may be used as or part of swimming pool fencing if it complies with the requirements of QDC MP3.4 & AS1926.1




Does a container pool require certification?


Yes. A container pool is included as a regulated pool as it is capable of holding water to a depth of greater than 300mm, has the capacity to hold more than 2,000 litres of water and has a filtration system. Many suppliers provide engineering drawings with the product that can be forwarded for streamlined certification. More info through QBCC.




Is my pool gate latch compliant?


The gate latches must be at least 1500mm above the ground and 1400mm above the bottom fence rail. If not, the latch must be located inside so it requires access by reaching over or through the fencing. The latch height can’t be less than 1200mm above the ground or at least 1000mm above the bottom fence rail. It must also be 150mm below the top of the gate (or the edge of any hand hole opening) and, if necessary, covered with a 450mm radius shield with no openings greater than 10mm.




Did you know that during the pool fence inspection the pool gate needs to latch automatically from a fully opened position, half opened position and from resting on the latch?


This is to ensure that the gate will self close and latch from all positions




When can you fill a pool once built?


A pool is not to be filled until Form 16 Pool Fence inspection has been issued.




If you have a sewer line on your property and you want to build a pool, do you need a Build over Sewer (BOS) application?


If the sewer line is within 3m of the pool shell, check QDC MP1.4. If the sewer line is closer than 1.2m it needs a BOS application.




What happens after a temporary pool fence is approved?


Before the end of the 3 months certification period, a reminder will be issued by the certifier. Depending on the project progress, a re-inspection of the temporary fence can be arranged or, if the pool is ready to go, a final inspection.




What are the approval rules for a retaining wall adjacent to a pool?


Retaining walls within 1.5m to another structure or over 1m in height are required to be engineered and inspected by an RPEQ engineer. A retaining wall may be used as part of swimming pool fencing if it complies with the requirements of QDC MP3.4 & AS1926.1.




Why is the pool inspector checking the gate latch... again?


This is to ensure that the gate will self close and latch from all positions. During the pool fence inspection, the pool gate needs to latch automatically: - from a fully opened position - half opened position - from resting on the latch




Pools & Spas - What needs to be bonded?


"1. Reinforcing metal of a concrete pool shell and pool surrounds (note: only one bonding point is required when all the steel reinforcement is wire tied as one complete conductive system) 2. Conductive metalwork as a support system for plastic lined or fibreglass pools 3. Exposed conductive parts of any low voltage electrical equipment including electrical equipment in contact with the pool water 4. Conductive ladders and diving boards 5. Conductive fencing within arm's reach (1.25m) of the pool edge 6. Conductive building structure within arm's reach of the pool edge 7. Any conductive metal greater than 100mm in any dimension within arm's reach of the pool edge e.g. conductive pool fencing systems and glass panel supporting spigots"





Demolition

Can you demolish a Traditional Building Character house?


Any house built before 1911 or in Traditional Building Character overlay before 1947 will trigger a town planning for demolition.




What are the legislative requirements for demolition permits?


Legislation requires demolition permits (for a building primarily used for residential purposes) to be held for 5 business days with Council prior to issuing to the Applicant (in accordance with s88 of the Building Act 1975).




What are the notifiable work requirements for a deconstruction site?


Form 4 - required to demonstrate the sewer is safely capped





Residential

When does glass need to be upgraded?


Glazing is required to be upgraded where the use of a room has changed. Eg. where an extension to a dwelling converts a space to a wet area that was formerly a bedroom, the Window in the New bathroom/wet area must be upgraded to Grade A safety Glazing with a Form 15 provided by the supplier of the glass and a Form 16 supplied by the installer.




When is installing window flashing mandatory?


Installing window flashing is always mandatory for all new windows. “Openings in external wall cladding exposed to the weather must be flashed as follows: - All openings must be adequately flashed using materials that comply with AS/NZS 2904 - Flashings must be securely fixed at least 25mm under the cladding and extend over the ends and edges of the framing of the opening” Extract from NCC




When are floor wastes required?


Floor wastes are only required in the situations below: - In a shower area, as part of the AS 3740 wet area waterproofing requirements (NCC – Volume One F1.7 & Volume Two 3.8.1.2). - In a room containing a urinal (NCC – Volume One F1.7 & AS 3500.2 through Volume Three Part C2). - In a Class 2, 3 or Class 4 part of a building, where a bathroom or laundry is located above a sole occupancy unit or public space (NCC – Volume One F1.11).




What is the natural lighting requirement for the setback of a window from the boundary?


The NCC states that “A window required to provide natural light that faces a boundary of an adjoining allotment must not be less than a horizontal distance of 900 mm from that boundary”. Natural Lighting may be obtained through the use of roof skylights if the required lighting cannot be achieved through standard windows.




What are my obligations when installing termite barriers?


Queensland properties can be subject to severe termite attack. There are a range of options so professional consultation will ensure your project utilises an effective barrier system. The obligation as the property owner is to ensure these barrier systems are maintained and regular re-inspections carried out at intervals specified by product specifications and installation guides to ensure the barriers are not compromised throughout the use and lifetime of the structure. The selected termite management system must be detailed on drawings and in specifications and installed by QBCC licensed contractors. Find out more about BCA requirements for new homes from the QBCC.




When is siting variation required for a carport on a small lot (under 450 sqm)?


When the proposed single carport is within road boundary clearance or when a double carport is set back less than 1.5m from the side boundary and 2.0 metres from road boundary.




Termite Protection: What actions must be taken to adequately protect a domestic dwelling from termite attack?


For latest information relating to the protection of domestic dwellings from termite attack and varying products, lifespans and effectiveness of both chemical and physical barriers on the market today, please see QBCC presentation by Mark Porter from Master Builder's Queensland.




When is mechanical ventilation required?


The Building Code of Australia (BCA) allows for mechanical ventilation in scenarios where windows are not installed to a non-habitable space, that is also exempt from natural light requirements, such as in a bathroom, water closet, laundry or the like. The Mechanical Ventilation installed, must be ducted either directly outside, or to a roof space that is adequately ventilated by open eaves, and/or roof vents; or is covered by roof tiles without sarking or similar materials which would prevent venting through gaps between the tiles.




Some important points about separating walls


Did you know a separating wall must commence as the footings or ground slab and extend to the under-side of a non-combustible roof? A separating wall must not be crossed by timber or other combustible building elements except for timber roof battens (75x50 max) or roof sarking and must have any gap between the underside of the roof and the top of the fire wall packed with mineral fibre or other fire resistance material.




Does painting need to be complete before a final inspection?


Yes, all exposed timber must have at least one coat of sealant before inspection as per Timber Framing Code - Timber Protection Paint & Seal requirements AS 1684.2 2010




Do I need to have a termite system if my house is made from Cold Formed steel or treated timber?


Yes, Volume 2 of the NCC Queensland State variation 3.1.3.2 indicates that not only frames but door jambs, window frames and reveals, architraves and skirtings are all in need of protection as they are considered primary building elements.




Do I need a vapour barrier under the slab in the class 10 garage?


Yes, if the slab is continuous with the slab of the class 1a dwelling, see clause 3.2.2.6 Volume 2 of the NCC for the requirements of the vapour barrier.




Why do I need steel reinforcement on re-entrant corners?


NCC Volume 2, Section 3.2.5.3 section b) states two steel bars are to be installed at re-entrant corners to reduce shrinkage in the concrete slab, see figure 3.2.51.




In the NCC 2019, do you know when flashing at the top of a window is required?


Part 3.5.4.6 - Flashing to wall openings at the top of the window is not required when it complies with Figure 3.5.4.5.




What are the requirements for installing a driveway new crossover?


1. Get Brisbane City Council crossover permit. 2. Remove the original crossover and reinstate the footpath and kerb.




My project is a subdivided lot and the new building requires new drainage - do I need a permit?


Yes - in accordance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018




Form 16s - Which stages can be checked by the surveyor?





My project is a subdivided lot and the new building requires new drainage - do I need a permit?


Yes - in accordance with the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018




Avoiding a compliance headache for your resi project?


When setting out your building work, always allow for wall cladding and finishes.




What happens after a temporary pool fence is approved?





What are the rules for openings in barriers - wire balustrades?


As per NCC Vol. 2 - 3.9.2.5, you must consider: - Post rail spacing - Wire spacing - Wire diameter - Wire tension - Defection at midpoint - Balustrade to not allow a 125mm sphere to pass through




When is siting variation required for a carport on a small lot (under 450 sqm)?


When the proposed single carport is within road boundary clearance or when a double carport is set back less than 1.5m from the side boundary and 2m from a road boundary.




What are residential ceiling heights requirements?


* The height must not be less than 2.4m in a habitable room (except a kitchen, which must not be less than 2.1m) ** "Habitable room means a room used for normal domestic activities and - a. Includes a bedroom, living room, lounge room, music room, television, kitchen, dining room, sewing room, study, playroom, family room, home theatre and sunroom; but b. Excludes a bathroom, laundry, water closet, pantry, walk-in-wardrobe, corridor, hallway, lobby, photographic darkroom, clothes-drying room, and other spaces of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods." Extract from NCC 2019 Building Code of Australia Volume Two




What 3 criteria need to be met for a compliant vapour barrier in QLD?


- 0.2mm thick polyethylene film - medium impact resistant, as determined by Australian Standard 2870 - branded continuously "AS 2870 Concrete underlay, 0.2mm Medium impact resistance" Excerpt from QBCC blog 5th June 2020




Why do we dome the top of footings?


The concrete dome is designed to move water away from the steel post so that it reduces the chances of corrosion and rust




My residential project involves a tiled deck - is an internal to external step down required?


Yes - drainage of surface water away from the house must be considered. A step of min 50mm is required to comply.





Decks

When does a deck require building approval?


Decks require approval where they are greater than 1m from ground surface, are roofed or exceed 10sq/m total area and if single side of the proposed structure exceeds 5 linear metres.




What level of slip resistance needs to be achieved for safety of landings, stairs and ramps?


Slip resistance products may be pre tested or an insitu test may be required (applies to all finishes and surface types). Internal surfaces and external surfaces have varying requirements of slip resistance as they are located in differing environments and subjected to different conditions. Typically rough-sawn timber stair treads used externally will not require additional surface treatments while internal timber treads must have a grit incorporated to the final sealant applied to the timbers or alternatively grip strips installed to the nosing to achieve compliance with Building Code.




Is there anything I have to do under the house or deck to ensure surface water can get away?


Yes, it is important to ensure ground is sufficiently graded “to prevent ponding”. For more details, refer to NCC 3.1.2.3 - Surface water drainage




Can I use a pole plate to support a deck?


Due to the complexity of NCC Part 3.10.6, most of the time an engineer is required to design the pole plate design.




Do my external stairs need to comply with NCC 2019?


Yes, the Australian Building Codes Board clarified that the internal and external stairs are required to comply with NCC Part 3.9 such as rises, goings, handrails and landings.





Retaining Walls

When does a retaining wall require building approval?


Where they exceed 1m total height, are within 1.5m of a structure or if the footing for the retaining wall will impose a surcharge loading to any nearby infrastructure/footings. Refer to Building Regs 2006 Schedule 1 Part 3 for more detail.




When does an engineer’s design need to be provided for a retaining wall?


When retaining walls exceed 1m height and/or are located within 1.5m of other structures, or will impose a surcharge loading on another structure, RPEQ engineer must provide the design and corresponding F15 stating compliance with Australian Standards and Building Regulations. An inspection will also be required.




Do I need to put a balustrade on a retaining wall in my garden?


Yes, it is required under the NCC 2019 if it's on the delineated path to the front door and the height is more than 1m.





Smoke Alarms

What are the smoke alarm requirements since 1 January 2017?


For dwellings, townhouses and sole occupancy units (class 1a and 2 buildings), it is required “to install specific smoke alarms, known as interconnected photoelectric smoke alarms:

  • In each bedroom
  • In hallways that connect bedrooms and the rest of dwelling
  • If there is no hallway, between bedrooms and other parts of the storey
  • If there are no bedrooms on a storey, at least one smoke alarm in the most likely path of travel to exit the dwelling”
Extract of the Queensland Government smoke alarm laws




What are the requirements when installing smoke alarms devices?


“Smoke alarm devices must be installed: - if practicable, on the ceiling - if the ceiling slopes, it must be in an area of the ceiling that is between 500 millimetres and 1500 millimetres from the apex of the ceiling - if installing on the ceiling is not practicable, on an exposed joist or beam that when measured from the ceiling does not have a depth of more than 300 millimetres when measured from the ceiling - if these two placements are not practicable, the device can be installed on a wall in an area that is between 100 millimetres and 300 millimetres from the ceiling and more than 300mm from the corner of 2 walls. Smoke alarm devices must not be: - within 300 millimetres of a light fitting - if installed on a ceiling, within 300 millimetres of a corner of the ceiling and a wall - if installed in a stairwell, out of reach of smoke because of an obstruction within 400 millimetres of an opening from which air is supplied from an air conditioner or force air ventilation within 400 millimetres of the blades of a ceiling fan.” Extract from Building and Plumbing Newsflash 556 - "Changes to smoke alarm laws - effective 1 January 2017"




Did you know that the new NCC references for smoke alarms have changed?


For all projects engaged after the 1st of May 2019, the NCC references for smoke alarms is 3.7.5. In the NCC 2016 version, it is referred to as 3.7.2.





Roofing

When is a Building Approval required for roofing works?


According to the QBCC Blog: “When roofing works involve the replacement of more than 20% of the existing roof area, a Building Approval is required”




How can high winds affect the safety of my roof system?


Construction professionals look for signs of uplift including lap irregularities of roofing sheets, gaps and barge capping damage. Early engineer and certifier involvement will support roofing experts to ascertain how repairs and reroofing can maximise overall structure resilience and adhere to building codes.




Roof sheeting – What sort of roof sheeting should I use?


Follow this diagram - Extract from NCC




What are the downpipes requirements in terms of size and installation?


Downpipes must:

  • “Not serve more than 12m of gutter length for each downpipe, in order to ensure effective fail and adequate capacity to discharge all water anticipated during a storm having an average recurrence interval of 20 years.
  • Be located as close as possible to valley gutters
  • Be selected in accordance with the appropriate eaves gutter section”
Extract from NCC




Where do I need to connect downpipes?


Clause 3.1.2.5 of Volume 2 of the NCC indicates storm water drainage must be to the satisfaction of the local authority, one example of legal point of discharge is at the allotment boundary. Check with Local Council prior to installing any soak away systems as some Regional Councils will not allow them.




What are the minimum overflow requirements for residential guttering?


Refer to NCC 3.5.3 as catchment area and location will determine minimum overflow measures. Check out this gutters, downpipes and overflow calculator.




Need clarification around selecting gutters and downpipes sizes?


Go to NCC 3.5.3 "Gutters and downpipes". Please note "valley gutters on a roof with a pitch

  • more than 12.5 degrees - must have width of not less than 400mm and be wide enough to allow the roof covering to overhang not less than 150mm each side of the gutter; or
  • not more than 12.5 degrees - must be designed as a box gutter"




When is a Building Approval required for roofing works?


According to the QBCC Blog: "When roofing works involve the replacement of more than 20% of the existing roof area, a Building Approval is required"




Should minor scratching on metal roofing be addressed?


Speak to manufacturer - minor scratches are generally not a problem. Touch up paint becomes patchy / obvious in time.





B.O.A

What size sewer pipe or stormwater pipe can be self-assessable against QDC MP1.4?


Sewer size must not be more than 225mm in diameter. Stormwater size must not be more than 375mm in diameter.




How close can you go to a self-assessable pipe according to QDC MP1.4?


Footing must be a minimum of 1.2m from the centre of the line and 300mm past the invert level of the pipe.




When does the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018 come into effect?


The new plumbing laws came into effect on 1 July 2019 and have replaced the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2002.




What are some of the changes due to the Plumbing and Drainage Act 2018?


Council may request the items listed below: - Completed current Form 1 - Site classification report - Articulation design if soil classification type is H, E or P





Stairs

What are the requirements for handrails?


Extract from NCC




A common mistake we find on inspections is that external stair openings exceed 125mm


NCC Part 3.9.1.2




What are the requirements with stair landings?


Stair landings must be a minimum 750 mm long . When there’s a change of direction in the stairway, the length must be a minimum 500 mm from the inside edge of the landing.




What do I need to know about building a path around the outside of the house?


- The external finished surface must slope away 50mm in the first meter (as Brisbane is not in a low rainfall intensity area) (NCC 3.1.2.3 - Section a) - The internal level must be at least 50mm above the external level (NCC 3.1.2.3 - Section b) For more details, refer to NCC 3.1.2.3 - Surface water drainage





Underpinning

What are the signs that a project needs underpinning?


If you notice cracking in your house or if your doors and windows don't open and close properly, it is a sign that your house is moving. If that's the case, we recommend you get in contact with an expert in that field.





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