Built a House with No Permit - Can Anything be Done?

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27 August 2014

I was just wondering, if we have already built a house on a 10acre block of land (dont properly) without a permit, is there anything we can do to get a permit or are we better off just leaving it and hope we dont get caught?

I also heard that after 6 years the council can't pull it down or do anything about it?

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Dear Kristyclaire,

Since Councils do not have the power to retrospectively approve illegal building works. I don't think there would be much point telling them about it. Worst case they could ask you to pull it down, or you may get a fine.

Check this out:

What happens if I don’t get a permit?

If you carry out a renovation project that requires a approval without having one, your local authority or building certifier can issue a ‘stop work’ order, which remains in effect until you obtain a permit. If the work doesn’t meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and the council rules, you may be required to redo the work at your own cost. In worst case scenarios, you could be forced to remove the addition. This could happen if you building work does not meet council’s codes or is not undertaken by a professional builder. In some states and territories, councils can issue ‘on the spot’ fines. In the worst case scenario, you could find yourself in court.

Working without a required permit may also affect an insurance claim arising from the renovation. Before any work begins on your home, check with your insurance representative who can explain exactly what is needed to ensure continuous and adequate coverage, both during and after the renovation.

Sarah J

Well-Known Member
16 July 2014
Melbourne, Victoria
Hi kristyclaire,

I agree with Sophea, council has power to retrospectively approve a building and will give you time to make the necessary applications and seek proper approval if and when they get to it.

However, it is not the case that council has no power to seek enforcement after 6 years. Councils have been known to demand permits/applications for buildings or structural changes dating back decades and more. The reason why councils are hesitant to chase down breaches from too long ago is that some councils delete records/notes or no longer have notes/records from that far back. This makes proving that the building or structural change was done without council approval or the necessary permits difficult, but not impossible.