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Are You In Need Of Bathroom Renovation?

If you’re thinking of conducting a bathroom renovation, a lot of things might start to bother you, which can leave you with many unanswered questions. For example, you’ll need to know the average cost for a renovation, how long the renovation will take, the need for a local landfill, and most of all, the regulations around permits and if you’ll need a permit for your bathroom renovation.

As an owner-builder, these are some of the essential things you should know, and in this article, we provide you with information to guide you through your bathroom renovation.

What Is A Building Permit?

Building permits aim to ensure structural stability, health, and safety of a building. A Council or Private Building Surveyor usually issues the permits after inspecting building plans and sites to ensure that the building meets the different regulations set by the Building Code of Australia.

These permits are generally forwarded to the local council and displayed on the building site. Today, many people confuse Planning Permits with Building Permits, but it’s important to note that they are different.

When Do You Need A Building Permit?

Renovations and remodelling that will cause changes to the shape or structure of your home usually require a permit. This includes door openings or adding a new window. You’ll also need a building permit for other external additions and even for demolition work.

On the other hand, minor external alterations and smaller internal changes don’t require building permits. For example, if you’re replacing a bathroom cabinet or other cabinet in your home, you won’t need to get a permit for such renovation. This also applies to replacing windows or doors in your home, provided that the opening size remains the same.

Permits And Licences

Depending on the country or state that you reside in, you may need to get a permit before you start a renovation. As mentioned earlier, this may not be required for minor changes, but if you are making significant structural changes, you’ll need a permit. These significant changes include changing things like drainage, plumbing, electricity, and gas.

Figuring when you’ll need a permit can be rather tricky because, for some states, you only need to go to the local council for a permit (building permit and planning permit). A registered building surveyor usually issues the permit, and it states that your renovation follows laid down requirements and building codes.

In addition to permits, there are also licences that you may need to get, especially for a major renovation that requires a professional. It’s important to note that you’ll require a professional in this case, even if you decide to do it yourself. The requirement for a licence is different for every state, but here’s a quick breakdown of what you’ll need with respect to each state:

New South Wales

The state is strict on licensing, and everyone performing work on their residential building within the state is required to get a permit. For renovations costing more than $5,000, including materials and labour, you’ll need to contact a licensed contractor. In general, two categories are accepted for contractors in NSW.

Group A which are certified in plumbing, floor or wall tiling, joinery, and carpentry, while Group B includes building codes, residential site safety, on-site supervision, and plumbing contracting principles.

Australian Capital Territory

The ACT also requires licensed building professionals for renovations above $5,000, including materials and labour. However, the licences in the ACT are categorised as Class A, B, C, or D. Structure renovations require someone with a Class A, B, or C licence, while non-structural renovations require all licences.

However, for waterproofing, bathroom renovations don’t necessarily require any licence. They are only expected to comply with Australian Standards for waterproofing.


Here, structural work is required to be performed by registered building professionals, irrespective of the price. Therefore, all registered electricians, builders, and plumbers involved in the renovation are expected to register with the Victorian Building Authority.


Acquiring permits is just a bit more complicated in Queensland, as renovations for houses older than 1946 require planning approval. You’ll also need approval for demolition work, which differs from the planning approval. For work-related to drainage and plumbing, you’ll need a waterproofing licence or plumbing approval.

The permits to get depend on the type of renovation that you are doing, and as a result, you’ll need to contact the local council with your plans so you can find out what they need from you.

Western Australia

It’s straightforward in Western Australia, and for renovation work, you only need to apply for a building permit. You won’t need this for joinery work and cabinet installation. In addition, for work of about $20,000, you’ll need to leave it to a building contractor.

South Australia

The requirements in South Australia are also pretty simple, and you’ll only need Development Approval for almost all forms of renovations. This is just to prove the renovations are in line with Building Rules Consent requirements. In addition, renovation work needs to be performed by licensed building contractors.


In Tasmania, there’s a breakdown for renovation work, and this is into low-risk work, medium-risk work, and high-risk work. For low-risk work, you won’t need a permit, and this refers to work like changing sink fixtures, taking down a backyard shed or putting up a fence.

For medium-risk work, you’ll need a certificate to ensure compliance, and this is mostly for kitchen and bathroom renovations. On the other hand, high-risk renovations require special plumbing and building permits.

Northern Territory

The guide for permit requirements is self-explanatory in the Northern Territory, and for bathroom renovations, especially if you plan to change the plumbing, fixtures, or wall, you’ll need to get a building permit. Therefore, you won’t need any of these permits if the renovation doesn’t include changing the plumbing, walls, or fixtures.

Planning For Bathroom Renovation

We have covered the requirements for the different regions in different parts of Australia to guide you, but here’s what you will need to do when planning for your bathroom renovations:

Determine a Layout

Think of what you expect your bathroom to be like—paying close attention to the walls and the location of the toilet and sink. These are the crucial things you’ll need to ask yourself during a bathroom renovation. In some cases, you’ll realise that during the planning stage, what you expect for the renovation may require much more work, which is why you must come up with a layout to follow.

Choose Your Design

With your plan in place, the next thing you need to do is develop the design for your renovation. You might have already noticed that some bathrooms are minimalist, while others are traditional, modern, or cosy. Basically, you need to know the type of bathroom you like and how you want to transform your current bathroom. This might be difficult, but with adequate planning, it’s achievable.

Select Your Materials

Individual preferences vary, especially when it comes to choosing materials for bathrooms. Some people prefer wooden shelves, while others prefer marble countertops. Whether it’s ceramic tiles or glass tiles you want, the choice is entirely up to you.

The most important thing is to ensure that you are specific when choosing any material for your bathroom. Everything needs to be carefully selected, from the sink bowl to the doorknob, before you continue with the renovation.

Calculate the Costs

For most parts of Australia, the cost for bathroom renovations is around $17,500, but for people on a small budget or renovating a small bathroom, the estimated price may be as low as $5,000. Luxury bathrooms or extra-large bathrooms can cost as high as $25,000.

The prices are high, but it’s important to note that several factors influence renovation costs. Here are some of the things that can cause the price to be on the high side:

  • Underfloor heating.
  • Cost of materials, whether you’re opting for Tuscan tiles or vinyl.
  • Size of your bathroom.
  • Layout changes significantly if it alters the plumbing system.
  • If you’re changing your sink, toilet, or bathtub.

In addition to these factors, it’s important to note that there are also labour costs, and this is usually the highest cost.

Ready Your Home For Renovation Or Remodelling

Now that you know when you’ll need a permit for your renovation, the requirements with respect to different states, what to consider when planning, and the renovation costs, you’re now ready to start the renovation. This is where you’ll get the builders ready to give your bathroom a completely different look. In general, there are four steps to ensure that your renovation is quick and stress-free.

Consider Your Family

If you have only one bathroom, you’ll need to make arrangements concerning that. In some cases, you may need to stay somewhere else or arrange with your neighbours for the renovation period. It's essential to make these arrangements beforehand.

Clean Your Place

You wouldn’t want your builders to work in a cluttered environment. Before you start the renovation, you’ll need to take precautions by clearing things away. This will not only protect the workers but also ensure that your belongings are safe. In some instances, you might have to hire a removalist company before the renovation starts.

Organise Waste Removal

For this, you might also need the services of a waste removal company, and you’ll need to ensure that they confirm your booking before the renovation begins.

Frequently Asked Questions About Bathroom Renovations

Here are answers to a few frequently asked questions:

What happens if you don't get a permit?

If you continue to renovate your bathroom without a permit, you risk being guilty of illegal conduct, and for this, you’ll be fined. Records show that the fines can be as high as $75,000. Therefore, it’s best to get a permit where necessary.

Can you renovate a bathroom yourself?

If you have the necessary skills, you can renovate your bathroom yourself. However, depending on your state, you may need to call a professional in some cases. The most important thing is to ensure that you’re not in violation of any laid-down regulation.

Will renovation impact utilities?

One crucial thing to consider when renovating your bathroom is its impact on your water utility. In addition, you’ll need a permit if the renovation will bring the plumbers or builders in contact with your water utilities.

Will bathroom renovation affect building structure?

You’ll need a permit for renovations that will have a structural impact on your property. Examples of these structural changes include adding a window or a wall to your bathroom. You’ll need to consult with your local council to ensure that you are not violating any regulated building code for these types of renovations.

Are there safety concerns during renovation?

A few safety concerns are associated with bathroom renovations, but not all of them are immediately noticeable. However, it’s essential to follow up on safety concerns and apply for an approval from your council where necessary.

Always Confirm Permit Requirements

Prevention is always better than cure; therefore, be sure to confirm the permit requirements before proceeding with your bathroom renovation. Remember, it’s best to work with professional bathroom renovators who understand these requirements rather than taking on the renovation yourself.