• The Registered Building Practitioner

    The link to the latest edition of The Registered Building Practitioner is attached for your informa   more

Bushfire Shelters


The Building Commission today confirmed that a private bushfire shelter has been

accredited for use on sites assessed up to and including the highest bushfire attack level,



The Building Commission, in association with the Building Regulations Advisory Committee (BRAC) and an independent expert panel, has worked closely with the manufacturer to achieve accreditation for the shelter for use on sites assessed as BAL-FZ or lower.

Deputy Building Commissioner Sarah McCann-Bartlett said that everyone involved has worked as swiftly as possible while maintaining full attention to the complex safety issues associated with private bushfire shelters.


“This shelter has been designed to withstand all bushfire conditions, including flame contact,” Ms McCann-Bartlett said.


Currently there is no National Standard for the design and construction of private bushfire shelters. The Australian Building Codes Board is currently preparing such a Standard, however this will not be ready for take up by the States until May 2010.


The Victorian Government recently regulated private bushfire shelters. The Regulations came into operation on 11 November 2009. The effect of the Regulations is that a building permit is required to install or construct a private bushfire shelter.


Ms McCann-Bartlett said the Building Commission ran a seminar program for consumers and practitioners in December 2009 regarding bushfire shelters.


The Commission also ran two forums in November 2009 to advise and inform private bushfire manufacturers of the new requirements.


“We made contact with more than 34 bushfire shelter manufacturers Australia-wide and as a result of the forums, some other manufacturers are also working to achieve accreditation for their product.”


An accreditation by BRAC or a determination of the Building Appeals Board (BAB) means that the building surveyor must issue a building permit for that shelter. 


The accreditation process for private bushfire shelters requires manufacturers to provide BRAC with detailed plans and analysis of their products.  Once a private bushfire shelter is accredited, a building surveyor cannot refuse to approve building work on the basis of the shelter design or construction is unsatisfactory if it complies with the accreditation.

However, private bushfire shelters may also require a planning permit or other approvals, so it is important residents check with their local council. 

Ms McCann-Bartlett said that although we now have a private bushfire shelter available it is important to remember that shelters are to be used as a place of last resort.

“Leaving early is the only way to ensure your safety,” Ms McCann-Bartlett said.

“Everyone should heed the CFA’s Prepare Act Survive message and have a Bushfire Survival Plan prepared.”

Shed Permits

If you are constructing a shed or garage you need to be aware of and comply with the following:

  • Most domestic sheds and garages require a building permit. Some sheds and garages with a floor area of less than 10 m2 may be exempt;

  • If a building permit is required and the building work including supply and installation costs more than $5000, unless you are an owner-builder, you must use a registered building practitioner to carry out the work;

  • A major domestic building contract must be entered into with the registered builder for work over $5000;

  • If the cost of the work (including labour and materials) exceeds $12,000 the builder is required to provide domestic building warranty insurance;

  • The installation of roof sheeting, flashings, guttering and downpipes on a shed, regardless of scale, must be carried out by a registered or licensed plumbing practitioner if it is connected to a stormwater collection or disposal system; and

  • If the value of the roof plumbing work exceeds $750 a compliance certificate is required from a licensed plumbing practitioner.

If you require any further information please contact you local council building Department.




Building a shed may seem like a straightforward task but you must be aware of the rules with regard to this type of building and comply with them. Entering into arrangements with shed retailers who suggest that you become an owner-builder but manage the project for you (i.e. organising builders and plumbers) – may be putting you at risk.


Things you should look out for include:

  • Shed companies insisting you be an owner-builder. Be aware that as an owner-builder if you sell your property within 6½ years of completion of the work you must have the building inspected and provide a report to the purchaser. You are also responsible for providing warranty insurance to the new owner if you sell within 6 years of completion of the work.

  • Companies that split their quotes or insist you pay for other trades separately from supply of the shed kit. If the company supplies the material and arranges the other trades and the total cost of the work is more than $5000, they must be registered building practitioners.

  • Companies revising down your quote to under $12,000 so they do not have to provide you with domestic building warranty insurance.

  • Work where the cost of roof work, including labour and the material cost is more than $750, ensure a plumbing compliance certificate is supplied

  • Connection of downpipes from the roof to water tanks and the stormwater drainage system must also be done by a licensed plumber and a certificate of compliance should be provided; ascertain if this is included in any quote.


Make sure only registered building practitioners and licensed or registered plumbers are working on your shed. This protects you and ensures the work is to a high standard.


Slabs and Foundations

Matt Rule and John Ferguson attended a recient seminar on slabs and foundations.


Matt has provided some notes on the seminar along with some useful links to web site relating to the topic.  These are well worth the read and will be useful in preventing potential problems.

1.       Implementation begins in May 2013-03-07

2.       SL72 where slab length is less than 18m

3.       SL82 where slab length is 18m – 25m

4.       SL92 where slab length is 25m - 30m

5.       Site drainage – Section 1 and 5

  1. Site drainage requirements now form part of the engineering design documents – Cannot rely on owners or builders to take the responsibility for poor site drainage. – if this is documented then it is the responsibility of the BUILDER to ensure the drainage complies.

  2. Drainage plan is to be submitted by the engineer for sites with moderately, highly or extremely reactive clays (including all P sites). This is determined by soils which will move more than 20mm

  3. Water shall not pond near footings – 1m clear & solid fall away from the footing (1:20)

  4. Fill is to be compacted adjacent to footings so surface water drains away – no sand build ups as its porous and holds water.

  5. The bases of plumbing trenches need to be graded away from the footings  aswell.

6         The deeper the clay the more possibility of movement. – eg. The old 100mm into clay  (as designed) is fine but having the same footing 500mm into clay exposes more clay to swell, hence move movement in the footing/structure.

7         Surveyors/inspectors are expected to issue a rectification instruction if a site does not comply.

8.     Plumbing penetrations in edge beams or strip footings should be avoided where practicable but if present, then they need to be lagged min 40mm for H2 - P sites. (20mm for H1 sites) Sleeves can also be utilised. 

9.    Vertical penetrations don’t need lagging but the need termite protection.

10.  Flexible joints required to plumbing connections immediately outside the footings.

       11.   New tables regarding classification of damage as a result of movement - category 3-4 need to be rectified professionally. A 12 month monitoring period is required to see how much movement has occurred before any action is taken.

       12.  SL92 or equivalent  is required on all slabs where brittle floor coverings >16m² are used such as tiles. (5.3.7) 

       13.  Minimum of 3 boreholes required to soil test reports on sites of H-P classification at a minimum of 3m deep unless rock encountered.

      14.  Engineers are to provide and certify articulation joint layout for brickwork


Below is a useful document regarding gradients which is QLD based (but still relevant to Victoria) which may be worth forwarding onto our builders


or similar Victorian based publication



Another useful document regarding Articulation joins in brickwork.


The Registered Building Practitioner

The link to the latest edition of The Registered Building Practitioner is attached for your information.


The newsletter from the Building Commission contains informative articles on construction issues, enforcement and new legislation.


The latest issue contains an article on page three about the use of unregistered practitioners conducting inspections.  In using DJM for your permits you are guaranteed of having a registered building inspector or building surveyor conduct your inspections.


At DJM we have a proud history of training inspectors, in the past 10 years we have trained and assisted in the formal registration of no less than 9 inspectors.  These practitioners are now working for a range of organisations such as local councils, other private surveying firms, builders and some have even started their own businesses.


Please feel free to contact us about our inspectors and their registration numbers.


DJM Building Consultants Pty Ltd
Suite 6, 24 Lakeside Drive Burwood East
Victoria 3151

Telephone: 9887 7990
FAX: 9887 9660