Can you demolish a house without planning permission?

by | May 6, 2024 | Knockdown rebuild, Knockdown rebuild guide

Knockdown rebuilds have become a popular option for new homebuyers over the last decade. This involves buying an existing house, knocking it down and building a new home on the property. It’s a great way to get a desired location without being limited to available vacant lots. However, just because you own the house, it doesn’t mean you just knock it down. You’ll need to check whether you need planning permission or a demolition permit before you can proceed.

What is planning permission?

Planning permission or building approval refers to the required permission needed before you can go ahead with the construction of either a new building or a major renovation or project. Whether you need building approval will depend on the project you’re undertaking.

Work that requires planning permission is called assessable development and can include:

  • Building work
  • Draining and Plumbing
  • demolition work
  • any major renovation

Work that doesn’t require planning permission is referred to as accepted development. This usually involves any smaller project or minor renovation.

Prohibited development is exactly what it sounds like. These are any type of project that won’t get approved because it violates local council guidelines, the national building code or health and safety standards

Is planning permission always required for home demolition work?

Demolition of an existing house is considered to be an assessable development and therefore will usually require a development application to be filed. Building approval from your local government or council means that your project meets all the requirements of local regulations.

There are some cases where planning permission isn’t required, but this usually applies to smaller projects, such as renovations. Our advice is to always check whether or not you need building approval, as every building, council and situation is a little different.

Even if you don’t require planning approval, you will still likely need a demolition permit before you’re allowed to knock down your house.

What are the legal consequences of unapproved demolition work?

The punishment for unapproved demolition work will depend on a variety of factors and the severity of the offence. Heavy fines, court summons and even jail time have been given to those who’ve carried out illegal demolition work so it’s really not worth taking the risk. Certain buildings are heritage overlay or heritage listed and demolishing one of these without the proper approval can get you in even more hot water.

There are also fines for having demolition works performed by anyone who isn’t a licensed contractor.

The lesson to gain from all this is never just assume you can knock down a house without any council approval. It’s something people are going to notice and your chances of not being caught are incredibly slim.

“Did you knock down our house without planning permission? Oh, you’ve done it now mister!”

Are there any exceptions to this?

Smaller demolition projects may not require a demolition permit or planning approval. For example, knocking down part of a house or removing an internal wall. Your demolition company should know what projects require planning approval and which do not.

How can you obtain planning permission to demolish a home?

Chances are, at the very least, you’ll need a demolition permit to knock down your home. While the process for this can vary from region to region (check with your local council for more information), most councils will follow a process similar to the following steps.

Planning Approval

  1. Determine the type of project you’re undertaking. If you’re reading this article that will likely be a demolition plan.
  2. Determine the type of assessment required.
  3. Complete the appropriate application with your local government authority
  4. Wait for the decision. This can take a few weeks so you’ll need to be patient.
  5. If you’re application is successful, you can move on with your project.

Demolition permit

  1. Figure out whether you need a demolition permit: Your builder or demolition contact should be able to help you with this.
  2. Make sure you have your planning approval sorted if you need it.
  3. Submit an application to your local council. There’s usually a form for this and we can help with this process.
  4. Wait for approval. This can take a couple of weeks so you’ll need to be patient.
  5. Once approval is given, you can proceed with the demolition work.

Buildi is here to help with you knockdown rebuild process.

A knock down rebuild is a big project. Building a new house is an intimidating prospect for many new home buyers, but luckily, Buildi is here to help guide you through the process. We can help you through every step of the process from finding the right builder and contractors, making sure you get your permits for your project and ensuring everything promised in your contract is delivered to you. We’re here to give power back to the consumer in the construction game.

If you have an upcoming knockdown rebuild or are building a new home, we’d love to help. Why not get in touch for a free consultation so we can discuss how we can save you time, effort and money on your new dream home?

Book your free, impartial consultation today!


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Building a Home

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