Undertaking building work

This page offers information on the assessment of activities that may be categorised as building work as specified in the Planning Act 2016.

What is building work?

Building work can include:

  • erecting a structure (e.g. a residential house, tourist accommodation, a shed or a roadside shop)
  • repairing, changing, moving or demolishing a structure
  • supporting premises for building activities.

Your development proposal may also involve other development activities such as:

  • a material change of use if it creates a new use for a property, re-establishes a previous use, or changes the scale or intensity of the use of the property
  • operational work (e.g. excavating or placing fill, or clearing vegetation).

Your development will need to meet the requirements under the Building Act 1975.

Starting your application

If your development is complex, or if there are on-site issues, you may need a qualified consultant to develop your application.

Your local council

Generally, your first step is to contact your local council to discuss any requirements under the planning scheme.

Categorising your development

Your local council will help you determine the category of your proposed development, either:

  • prohibited
  • assessable
  • accepted under the relevant planning scheme.

Despite the category of your proposed development, the proposal may also require:

  • assessment against interests that the state may have under the Planning Act 2016. This may mean that you need to lodge your application with, or refer it to, the State Assessment and Referral Agency (SARA)
  • assessment against a state interest that does not fall under the Planning Act or the SARA process (e.g. if your proposed development falls within a regional interest area under the Regional Planning Interests Act 2014)
  • assessment by other entities such as the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (refer to the Planning Regulation 2017)
  • assessment against Commonwealth legislation such as the Environment Protection and Biodiversity Conservation Act 1999 (e.g. if land use activities could potentially impact on threatened species).

Your assessment manager

If your development is assessable, your local council will let you know if they will be the assessment manager for your application, or if you need to contact SARA through your regional SARA office.

Working with SARA

If your local council has advised you to speak with SARA, we recommend that you contact SARA to ask for pre-lodgement advice or a pre-lodgement meeting. This will help you understand the constraints, opportunities, potential alternatives and costs associated with the assessment process.

The role of SARA

SARA delivers a coordinated, whole-of-government approach to the state's assessment of development applications.

SARA works with technical agencies, such as Department of Transport and Main Roads, Department of Resources, Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and Department of Environment and Science, to ensure all technical aspects of your development are appropriately assessed against Queensland legislation.

The State Development and Assessment Provisions (SDAP) sets out matters of interest to the state under the Planning Act. The SDAP outlines how a development application will be assessed under SARA and provides the assessment criteria and codes, guidelines, policies and legislation specific to the assessment of your development.

Channel your questions about interests the state may have through SARA in the first instance, rather than direct to another agency. Find further information about SARA or contact your regional SARA office.

Costs involved in development assessments

The Planning Regulation sets out the assessment fees for SARA. In addition to paying the assessment fees, you are also responsible for the costs involved with developing appropriate plans and complying with legal requirements.

Local councils will have a separate fee schedule for assessing applications.

Also consider…


Complete our quick questionnaire to help us provide referrals tailored to your needs.

General enquiries 13 25 23