Low-risk work, notifiable work and permit work – what’s the difference?
By Alex Wood
26 June 2021
Building work is any work that involves erecting, constructing, altering, renovating, adding to, repairing, underpinning or demolishing a building. It also includes any site preparation (such as excavating or filling) that needs to be done to get ready for construction.
In Tasmania, building work is divided into categories depending on the risk (or scope) of the work being undertaken, and these correspond to the level of building approval and oversight required:
Category 1 – Low risk work by an owner
This work includes “like for like” repairs and maintenance (so long as they’re not structural, i.e. load-bearing) and minor work such as small gazebos and sheds, skylights, shipping containers, decks up to 1m high, and fences.
This type of work does not need approval, but there is considerable detail on the heights and sizes allowed so we advise checking before launching in – either the prescribed information here or give us a call.
Category 2 – Low risk work by a builder
This work is slightly larger in scope and includes repairs and maintenance, bathroom renovations, roofed verandahs, retaining walls up to 1.8m high, and larger gazebos and sheds.
This type of work can only be carried out by a licensed builder, and again, the size limits are quite specific so we advise checking the rules here or asking your builder.
(This category also includes work deemed by a building surveyor to be sufficiently low risk and be carried out with a cut-down approval and oversight. However, this determination is only made on a case-by-case basis so you’d need to check with us first.)
Category 3 – Notifiable work
This work covers most residential building work, such as new dwellings, house renovations and extensions, solar panels arrays larger than 38m2, sheds and garages of any size, decks, retaining walls, and pool fences. It also includes commercial work such as fit-outs, additions, solar panel arrays, and signs.
This work requires a building approval and all the bells and whistles that go with that: drawings by a licensed designer, relevant site reports and engineering checks, referral to the council Environmental Health Officer if it’s a food premises, certification by a building surveyor, and the work carried out by a licensed builder.
The building surveyor needs to notify the council of the work (hence the “notifiable work” tag), but it doesn’t need a building permit from the council.
Category 4 – Permit work
This work covers everything else. Permit work requires everything that Category 3 notifiable work requires (site reports, design drawings, referrals, and building surveying certification) as well as a building permit from your local council. And the work needs to be carried out by a licensed builder.
Triggers for building permits
In a nutshell, you’ll need design documentation and building surveying certification for both Category 3 and Category 4 work, but you’ll only need a building permit for Category 4 work. Broadly speaking, the triggers that push Category 3 notifiable work into Category 4 permit work are:
- Doing the work as an owner builder. Anything done by an owner that is larger than Category 1 work needs to be done as Category 4 work with both a building permit and an owner builder permit.
- Anything residential or commercial that has been granted a discretionary planning permit, other than outbuildings.
- New commercial work, or commercial work requiring protection work (seriously – just ask us if you think this fits you, it’ll be easier).
This is a general summary of the difference between notifiable and permit building work, and the full details are in the Director’s Determination in all their naked glory if you fancy a spot of problem-solving. But given every project is different and those differences can modify the rules one way or another, it’s always prudent to check with your friendly building surveyor first.