You Don’t Need Plans for Minor Building Work … But you DO Need Permission to Build
Anything you build on your property needs plans, unless it is defined as “minor building work”. However the Act states very clearly in Part A: General Principles and Requirements (this was previously Part A: Administration), that any structural building work that is defined as “minor building work” requires authorization by your local authority’s building control officer before you can commence with any work. As long as you have made an application and have received the necessary permission from the local authority, you DO NOT NEED PLANS. But the law is also very clear in terms of compliance with the regulations; minor building work must comply with the regulations.
Temporary buildings also need authorization by the local authority. This includes builders’ sheds, on-site toilets, and any other structure you might want to erect (or be obliged to erect) for the construction project.
The local authority will not give you permission to erect a temporary building until you provide certain information, and they are able to assess it. At very least they need to know:
- what the intended use and life of the building will be
- the area in which it is to be erected (in other words where you are planning to put it)
- the availability of suitable materials from which it may be constructed
The Definition of “minor building work” in Terms of the Law
a) the erection of:
- poultry houses (hoender hokke or chicken coups) that are no more than ten square metres in size,
- aviaries that are no bigger than 20 square metres,
- solid fuel stores (for storing wood, coal, anthracite or similar) that are no more than ten square metres in area and no higher than two metres,
- tool sheds that are smaller than ten square metres,
- childrens’ playhouses that are no more than five square metres,
- cycle sheds no more than five square metres,
- greenhouses that are a maximum 15 square metres,
- open-sided car, caravan or boat shelters or carports that do not exceed 40 square metres in size,
- any freestanding wall built with masonry, concrete, steel, aluminum, or timber or any wire fence that does not exceed 1,8 m in height at any point above ground level and does not retain soil,
- any pergola,
- private swimming pool (although most local authorities do insist on plans),
- change room at a private swimming pool not exceeding 10 sq m in area.
b) the replacement of a roof (or part of a roof) with the same or similar materials,
c) the conversion of a door into a window, or a window into a door, without increasing the width of the opening,
d) the making of an opening in a wall that doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building concerned,
e) the partitioning or enlarging of any room by the erection or demolition of an internal wall, as long as it doesn’t affect the structural safety of the building,
f) the section of any solar water heater not exceeding six square metres in area on any roof; or 12 square metres if the water heater is erected elsewhere,
g) the erection of any building that the local council doesn’t believe plans are necessary for.
In the last instance, it is up to the building control officer to make this decision.
How This Affects You
We have had numerous queries on this site in terms of when and where plans are required. As you will see, there are a few exceptions, but ultimately it is up to the local authority to decide whether or not you need plans.
It also stands to reason that the structures defined as minor building work will all need to be fit for purpose. So you can’t say you are building an aviary (which can be 20 square metres in area), and then build a brick building with windows, suitable for human habitation!