Alterations to Existing Buildings


​​​​​Making alterations to an existing building

Section 112 of the Building Act requires Council to consider the effect and level of improvements proposed for a building consent application for alterations to an existing building.

Other than under specific clauses, Council can not grant a building consent for alterations unless it is satisfied that after the alteration, the building will comply with the following:

  • ​As near as is reasonably practicable, with the requirements for the means of escape from fire and access and facilities for persons with disabilities; and

  • The building will, if it complied with the other provisions of the Building Code immediately before the building work began, continue to comply with those provisions; or if it did not comply with the other provisions of the Building Code immediately before the building work began, continue to comply at least to the same extent as it did then comply.

For alterations to an existing residential building, the proposal should include the provision of smoke detection, if it is not already installed in the building.

Building consent applications for alterations to commercial buildings require a more detailed assessment and the application will need to include an assessment against the applicable current code requirements.  The assessment will need to justify the proposed solution if it is proposing an as near as is reasonably practicable solution.

If you are thinking of carrying out alterations to a commercial building, Council recommends you seek professional advice and organise a pre-lodgement meeting with a member of our building control team prior to submitting an application.

What is a change of use of an existing building?

Where an owner is proposing to change the use of an existing building (or part of a building) there are some circumstances, where an owner must give notice in writing to Council of their intention.

A change of use occurs when a building's (or part of a building's) use, as defined in the regulations, changes and the new use has more onerous or additional Building Code requirements than the old use. The additional or more onerous requirements will usually mean that the fire hazard or the risk to life has increased in the build​​​ing's new use.

Building uses are grouped into four broad categories;

  • Crowd activities
  • Sleeping activities
  • Working activities
  • Business or storage activities and intermittent activities.

These four broad categories each have a number of uses and overall there are a total of 15 different uses.  Definitions and examples of the uses can be found at

Council can be not​ified of a change of use to a building or part of a building either through the following:

  • A building consent application, where the work triggers the requirement to obtain a building consent; or 
  • Written notification, when a building consent is not required, the notification will need to include documentation outlining compliance with Section 115 of the Building Act and the appropriate clauses of the Building Code.

If your proposed project includes the change of use of a building or part of a building, Council recommends you seek professional advice and organise a pre-application meeting with a member of our building control team prior to submitting an application or notification.

Building Code Compliance requirements for subdivision

It is Council’s role to ensure individually-owned, multi-unit developments meet minimum Building Code compliance levels. This is to ensure that the people using them can do so safely and keep them healthy. 

This applies to all unit titles, cross-leases and company lease subdivisions.


If you are proposing to subdivide a building or part of a building you will need to provide Council with information on how the buil​ding complies. This information can be provided through a compliance report and a compliance statement.  The report and the statement must demonstrate that the legal requirements of the Building Act are met and that the subdivided building complies as closely as possible with the Building Code.


The evidence for compliance may require you to engage professional consultants to prepare information such as means of escape from fire, access and facilities for people with disabilities, surface water, internal moisture, structural stability during a fire and fire protection to other property etc.


If your proposed project includes the subdivision of a building or part of a building, Council recommends you seek professional advice and we would recommend a pre-lodgement meeting with a member of our building control team prior to lodging an application or notification.

Extending the life of a building

Some buildings have a specified intended lifespan, either due to Code Compliance inadequacies or because they were constructed to be temporary buildings. When a building consent is issued on a building like this, it is subject to the condition that it be altered, demolished or removed before the end of its life.

However, Council can approve an ‘extension of life’ if we are satisfied the building can continue to perform for a longer period.

If you would like to extend the life of a building you will need to provide us with written notice.


We recommend you seek professional advice and organise a pre-lodgement meeting with a member of our building control team​ prior to submitting a notification.​​

How to arrange contact with our building team

By phone or email or in person

If you would like a member of the team to call or email you to discuss your enquiry or make an appointment to meet with you, phone us on (07) 315 3030 to lodge a call, email or appointment request or click here to use our easy online request a call, email or appointment online form​.​

How long will it take us to respond?

If you are contacting us to arrange an inspection for an existing building consent, we will contact you within 24 hours. For all other enquiries, we have set a service standard of 5 days to call or email you back to either discuss your enquiry or set an appointment date and time. We have a service standard of 10 working days to have the appointment with you.

If your request is urgent, please note this on the form and we will do our best to respond as quickly as we can, though please note that we are a small team and this is not always possible. Any change to our service timeframes is at the discretion of the Planning and Regulatory Group Manager.​​

Page reviewed: 05 Jun 2019 2:58pm