Building Regulations

All home and commercial property owners should ensure their balconies are regularly inspected and maintained.

What can affect balconies
There are many items you as a building owner should be aware of that can affect the structural adequacy of a balcony over time. These may include:

  • Termites - Timbers can be affected by insect attack. In areas of termite risk, the appropriate timber and treatment are needed, regardless of whether the council has declared the area likely to be subject to termite attack.
  • Wet rot - Timber is affected by water. Wet rot occurs when a timber member is in constant contact with the ground or another timber member in the presence of moisture.
  • Seaside and corrosive effects - Corrosive environments can affect unprotected steel structures, reinforcing steel and fixings such as bolts and fixing plates particularly in areas near coastlines.
  • Loadings - Large pots, water features and the like, provide additional loads for a balcony to support, for which the balcony may not have been designed.

Owners actions
As a safety measure, all home owners and commercial property owners with balconies should ensure that:

  • It is constructed following the issue of a building permit
  • It is inspected on a regular basis for any warning signs of potential collapse
  • A maintenance program is introduced to extend its design life
  • Where there is a doubt or a problem, an inspection by a Structural Engineer or other suitably qualified building practitioner, and remedial measures, as necessary, are arranged.

Balcony Inspections:
There are a number of building practitioners who have the skills to inspect balconies and provide advice on their safety and maintenance. These include:

  • Building Surveyors
  • Building Inspectors
  • Structural Engineers
  • Architects
  • Builders

Further Information
Building Services
Phone 8470 8899

Handrails and balustrades are an important safety consideration.

When balustrades or handrails are required
Balustrade or handrails must be provided along the side of any stairway or ramp, any floor, corridor, hallway, balcony, veranda, or the like, and along the side of any path to a building if it is not bounded by a wall and the surface level beneath is more than one metre away.

This requirement also applies to a bedroom window opening if the opening is 2 metres or more above the surface level below.

Construction of balustrades or handrails
Balustrade or other barrier must be installed in accordance with the following:

  • The height must not be less than:
    a) 1 m above the floor of any access path, balcony, landing or the like; or
    b) 865 mm above the nosing of the stair treads or the floor of a ramp
  • A transition zone may be incorporated where the balustrade or other barrier height changes from 865mm on the stair flight or ramp to one metre at the landing.

Openings in balustrades
Openings in balustrades (including decorative balustrades) or other barriers must be constructed so that any opening does not permit a 125mm sphere to pass through it and for stairs, the space is tested above the nosing line.

Finished floor level
Where the finished floor level is more than 4 m above the surface beneath, any horizontal elements within the balustrade or other barrier between 150 mm and 760 mm above the floor must not facilitate climbing.

Wire Balustrades
For this purpose, a wire balustrade consist of a series of tensioned wire rope connected to either vertical or horizontal supports. A wire balustrade excludes wire mesh fences and the like.

Where wire balustrade is proposed to be used, it must be constructed in accordance with Clause of Volume 2 of the Building Code of Australia.

The handrails and balustrading information sheet contains post spacing, wire spacing and wire types, tension and deflection requirements for vertical and horizontal wire balustrades systems. The figures contained in the information sheet are an extract from the Building Code of Australia and were derived from testing the spacing combinations in order to prevent the passage of a 125 mm diameter solid cone penetrating between the wires at a predetermined force.

Care needs to be taken to ensure that wire tension will be maintained during the life of the balustrade. In some situations, it may be necessary to incorporate "lock-off" devices to prevent loosening of the wire. Likewise, if a threaded anchor bears against a soft wood post or rail, the anchor may indent the post or rail, thus loosening the wire.

Temperature effects on the tension of the wire may be significant but there is little that can be done to allow for temperature variation in service. The shorter the wire span, the lesser the effect will be.

Further Information
Building Services
Phone 8470 8899

If you want to build a fence on your property, you will require a permit issued from Council. If you have spotted a dangerous fence, you can report it to us.

Front Fence (not a Corner Fence)
If you wish to build a front fence on your property you must first decide what materials you will use as this affects the regulation height of your fence. You will require a Building Permit to build the following types of fence:

  • Colorbond and timber front fence higher than 1.5m
  • Brick front fence higher than 1.2m

For further information check the Fact Sheet for Corner and Front Fences. 

To apply for a Fence Building Permit, you will need to provide the following:

  • Maximum boundary wall length and height if the fence is greater than 1.5 m high
  • Application for a Building Permit form
  • Architectural plans - view the Example Plan of a Front Fence
  • Copy of Certificate of Title

If you have an easement at the front of your property, you will need to complete an application to Build Over Easement.

Corner Fence
Corner properties have extra requirements for front and side fences. Fences can be up to:

  • 1m high within 9m of the point of intersection
  • 1.5m on the front boundary
  • 2m on the side boundary
  • of 2m (with a building permit) on declared roads.

Boundary Fences
The standard height for boundary fences between adjoining properties can be up to two meters in height. Fences outside of these heights will require a Report and Consent from Council, as well as a Building Permit. 

Dividing or Common Boundary Fences
Side fences can be up to 1.5m high within the first three meters of your front property boundary, and increase to 2m from that first point onwards without a Building Permit. 

You will require a building permit for any fences higher than these limits, and whenever it is proposed to vary from the building regulations through the Report and Consent Approval process.

If the dividing/common boundary fence also acts as part of enclosure of a spa or swimming pool, a building permit is required regardless of height.

Fencing Disputes
Common/dividing boundary fences are generally governed under the Fencing Act, which is not a Council matter. Council has no jurisdiction on matters relating to a common fence where a Building Permit is not required. The following services may be able to assist:

Disputes Settlement Centre of Victoria
Phone 1300 372 888

Law Institute of Victoria
Phone (03) 9607 9311 

Dangerous Front Fences
This may include a front fence or side fence facing a street, road or public space that is structurally unsound. Any dilapidated or unsound common/dividing fence between properties that bounds and forms part of a swimming pool/spa is also considered an immediate danger that must be reported. Council will investigate common/dividing boundary fences relating to the following issues:

  • A fence considered by the Municipal Building Surveyor to be a danger to the public or occupants (this generally does not relate trellises or screening added to a fence or to a standard lightweight construction timber or metal (Colorbond) fence unless it forms part of a swimming pool/spa enclosure)
  • Dangerous, dilapidated or illegal common/dividing boundary fences forming part of a swimming pool/spa enclosure
  • Brick fences or illegal fences on the street boundary built without a Building Permit.

Further Information
Building Services
Phone 8470 8899

Safety barriers for pools and spas must meet Australian Standards.

Safety barriers are required for pools and spas capable of exceeding 300mm depth of water. Any fence or safety barrier must comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1 to prevent access by young unaccompanied children. 

Hard covers for spas, including lockable types, do not comply with Australian Standard AS1926.1 and still require safety barriers to be provided.

Building Permits are required for:

  • Installation of above ground swimming pools, in ground swimming pools or spas capable of exceeding 300mm in depth of water.
  • Construction or alteration of any fencing that forms part of a safety barrier for a swimming pool or spa.

For further information on the legal requirements for safety barriers visit the Victorian Building Authority's website.

Further information
Building Services
Phone: 8470 8899