Building and planning approvals after floods

After a flood or cyclone, you may need to repair, rebuild or even relocate a building affected by floodwater. This information gives guidance about whether you need building and planning approval for various building work.

For more information, contact your local government.

Repairing a building

You don't need building approval if you're repairing or replacing:

  • fixtures
  • wall or ceiling linings
  • kitchen cupboards
  • vanity units
  • floor coverings.

However, all materials used in the work must meet relevant Australian Standards and linings must be fixed according to the manufacturer's installation instructions.

You do need approval to do more extensive work that affects the building's structural components.

Exemptions apply for minor structural work that doesn't affect more than 20% of the building's structural components of the same type.

Owners and occupiers should determine whether the building's fire safety installations have been damaged or affected by floodwater before allowing the building to be re-occupied.

You don't need a planning application if you're repairing the flood-affected building to its original, lawful condition immediately before the flood.

However, you may need building approval from a building certifier for some repairs, particularly if they're structural. Ask a building certifier for advice before starting work.

If in doubt, ask your local government or a building certifier whether you need approval.

Also check with the Queensland Fire Department about fire safety installation issues on larger buildings, including sprinkler systems, fire detection, and alarm systems or stairwell pressurisation systems.

Substantially rebuilding a building

You need building development approval to substantially rebuild a building.

A building certifier must confirm that the proposed building complies with the National Construction Code and other relevant codes before construction can start.

If you're not sure, check with your local government or a building certifier.

If you're replacing your building to its original, lawful condition immediately before the flood, you probably don't need planning approval from your local government.

However, you should ask your local government for advice, and review the previous floor levels and building materials used, to minimise the risk of flood damage in the future.

If you do intend to change floor levels, you should consult a building certifier.

If you intend to change the location, size, materials or use of the building, contact your local government before starting work to see if you need planning approval.

Repairing a building on heritage register

If you're repairing a building on state or local heritage register to restore it to its original, lawful condition before the flood, you probably don't need a planning application.

However, you should contact the Department of Environment, Science and Innovation and your local government to confirm before starting any building work.

If the work significantly changes the exterior of the building, or intensifies its use on the land through extensions and relocations, you probably need a planning application. Contact your local government directly about this.

Repositioning a building on stumps

Stumps are a major part of a building's structure. If floodwater has caused the stumps to lean out of alignment, the rest of the building has probably moved.

Before entering or occupying a building with leaning stumps, ask an engineer or other competent person for advice on repositioning the stumps to make the house structurally sound.

It isn't an offence to carry out the work without building approval if the work is needed due to an emergency endangering someone's life or health, or the building's structural safety.

However, the person doing the building work must give written notice of the development to the assessing authority (local government or building certifier) as soon as practicable after starting the development.

Raising a building's height

You need to contact your local government or a building certifier for a building development approval to raise the height of a building after a flood.

If the new proposed height exceeds the maximum height allowances in your local government planning scheme (particularly for character areas and dwellings), you may also need planning approval.

Demolishing buildings after a flood

When you want to demolish a building

Damage from floodwater may have made a building structurally unsafe or dangerous.

You can demolish this building without planning approval if the property is outside a 'character area' and structurally unsound.

However, you may need building development approval for building demolition.

Check with your local government or a building certifier to see if you need approval.

If the building is a character house in a character area, or a state or locally listed character place, you probably need a planning application. Contact your local government in this instance.

When local government wants to demolish a building

Local governments can require owners to demolish dangerous or dilapidated buildings and structures.

They can also demolish buildings if owners refuse to comply with an enforcement notice. Owners may appeal enforcement notices to the Development Tribunals.

Relocating a building on your site

If your lot is at least 450m2 or wider than 15m, you don't usually need a planning development application unless the building is:

  • to be relocated to an area affected by mining
  • below the 1-in-20-year flood line
  • within an urban stormwater flow path
  • within a character zone or is a listed character building.

Check with your local government to confirm. Also ask your building certifier whether you need any boundary setback variations if you propose to relocate the building close to the boundaries.

If your lot is smaller than 450m2, contact your local government for advice, as regulations for small lots vary among local governments.

Filling a site for flood immunity

You need approval from your local government to fill or excavate flood-affected areas (i.e. below the 1-in-100-year flood line).

Even if the land is above the 1-in-100-year flood line, you may need approval for any works: