The difference between a building permit and planning permit

What’s the difference between a Building Permit and Planning Permit?
Many first timers are surprised to learn that even though they have a Planning Permit, they still cannot build. They are then told that their next step is to spend more time and money to obtain a Building Permit

The difference between a building permit and planning permit.

The difference between the two permits is that:

  1. The Planning Permit focuses on ‘What‘ you intend to build.
  2. The Building Permit focuses on ‘How‘ you intend to build it.

It is entirely possible to succeed in obtaining a Planning Permit and fail to obtain a Building Permit.

Lets explore these two permits in more detail.

1) The Planning Permit focuses ‘What’ you intend to build.

Your Planning Permit is granted at the end of a successful Town Planning Permit (TPP) application.

Your TPP application is a description to Council of what you intend to build.

As such, the documentation only needs to be completed to a level of detail so that Council sufficiently understands what you are trying to do – from a planning perspective.

2) The Building Permit focuses ‘How’ you intend to build it.

Once you have obtained your Planning Permit, you have permission from Council to build ‘what’ you want.

Now you need to describe ‘how’ you are going to build it.

This is the process of obtaining a Building Permit – granted at the end of a successful Building Permit (BP) application.

Your BP application consists of several documents that together perform two functions:

  • Serves as the documents that will need to comply with the Building Code of Australia, and
  • Serves as instructions to inform your Builder how to build what you intend.

As such, the documentation needs to be completed to a level of detail so that your Builder understands how you expect him to build what you want – from a building perspective.

Building Permit Drawing vs Planning Permit Drawing: Case Study

As an example, lets compare the same detail at both a Planning Permit and Building Permit level of documentation:

Planning Permit Level

Garage Detail: Planning Permit level

In the Planning Permit drawing above, we have zoomed in on the area focusing on the garage and surroundings.

As can be seen, there is minimal detail regarding the garage itself – just basic dimensions and a note regarding the door.

At the planning stage, Council’s concern is “Will this garage (the ‘what’) fit in the context of the local neighbourhood?”

This is the reason for the neighbourhood context inclusions – eg. the adjacent neighbour’s Existing Carport and dwelling, Council’s nature strip assets and various neighbouring setbacks.

Building Permit Level (ie. Working Drawing)

Garage Detail: Building Permit (Working) Drawing

In the Building Permit drawing (otherwise known as a Working Drawing) above, we have zoomed in on the same area.

As can be seen, all detail regarding neighbourhood context is stripped – the Builder is only concerned with “How do I build this garage?”

In the above example, we can see some of the extra detail required to help instruct the builder:

  • Millimeter accurate dimensions
  • Steel Lintel detail
  • Steel Beam locations
  • Reference to further Section documents (the ‘A/4 Circle and arrow)
  • Reference to Engineering documentation
  • Stair Specifications
  • Window and Door specifications and dimensions

Because of the extraneous level of detail required, there can be anywhere upwards from twice the number of plans/documents necessary for the Building Permit as compared to the Planning Permit.

To sum it up in one word, the process of obtaining a Building Permit is all about adding Detail.

Building Permit or Planning Permit: Conclusion

The difference between the two permits is that:

  1. The Planning Permit focuses on ‘What‘ you propose to build.
  2. The Building Permit focuses on ‘How‘ you propose to build it.

To sum it up in one word, the process of obtaining a Building Permit is all about adding Detail!

What’s the difference between a Building Permit and Planning Permit?