small business Building approvals

Have you been recently granted a Development Approval (DA) from the City for your business? Are you intending to refurbish the commercial premises?

If you answered 'yes', you may require building approval from the City before you can open your doors to trade. Please refer to the information below to assist you in determining what building approval/s you would need for your business. 


Will there be internal fit-out work done?

Fit-out refers to the process by which the interior of a commercial premises is renovated, built, decorated or furnished to meet the tenant's occupancy requirements. Fit-out work includes installation of:

  • Electrical outlets and lighting
  • Floors and ceilings
  • HVAC systems
  • Fire protection systems 
  • Toilets
  • Window treatments
  • Partitions
  • Furnishings

If a proposed fit-out includes the above-mentioned work, a Building Permit is required. 

Why is a Building Permit required?

There is a common misconception that if fit-out work is not structural in nature, a Building Permit is not required. 

Building Permit requirements for fit-out work apply to both new and existing commercial buildings.

In most instances, some of the reasons why a Building Permit is needed include:

  • Partitions can affect the path of egress to an exit by occupants during an evacuation in a fire emergency. 
  • HVAC systems and fire protection systems including exit signs and emergency lighting have to comply with the requirements of the relevant Australian Standards and Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • The layout of the premises may affect access to and within the building by a person with a disability. Most buildings are required by law to provide access for people with disabilities.
  • Premises that are required to provide universal accessible toilets for people with disabilities must ensure that the toilets satisfy the requirements of the BCA and Australian Standard AS 1428.1.

Which type of Building Permit to submit?

As it is a commercial property, a certified building permit application is required to be submitted. 

Occupancy Permit

Under the Building Act 2011, an owner or occupier of a completed building must not occupy or use, or permit the occupation or use of the building unless an Occupancy Permit is in effect for the building. It is an offence to occupy or use a building without a valid Occupancy Permit and a fine of $50,000 could be imposed. 

Is there a current Occupancy Permit in effect for the building?

If there is no Occupancy Permit for the building, either the property owner or occupier (tenant) may apply for an Occupancy Permit from the City. 

Is the proposed use different from the current use of the property? 

If the proposed use is similar to the current use, an Occupancy Permit may not be required. 

Will the proposed use change the current building classification of the property?

Depending on the proposed use, it could potentially change the building classification under the Building Code of Australia (BCA). If there is a change in the building classification, you would need to apply for an Occupancy Permit


If you require more information, please contact the Building Services team on (08) 9273 6000 or at