Do I need a building permit to install solar?

The answer is not always straightforward and will depend on where you live and the council in your area.

When considering going solar one of the key questions is whether you will need a building permit or permission from your state or council. If you do, it’s usually possible to get your solar installer to take care of this for you.

How do I find out if I need a building permit?

  • Ask your local council. Your local council will be in charge of building permits and regulations, and should be able to provide you with a quick answer. Give them a call, or the information may even be available on your local council website. If a permit is needed you should also find information as to how you go about getting one and any other advice you need before installation.
  • Ask your solar installer. Your solar installer or any solar installation companies in your area will know the rules of your area and any building permits required, and if they don’t then you might want to take that as a warning.

What if I don’t need a permit?

You’re free to press on with your installation.

What if I do need a permit?

Be sure to ask your solar installer how they can help with this. Many solar installation companies will manage your applications for your on your behalf, which will save you time and stress.

Why are building permits required?

Building permits are intended to protect the general public from unregulated or unlicensed building structures. It’s to also protect buildings or areas that are of cultural or architectural significance. Below are some other reasons why:

  • Weather. In areas that regularly see strong weather the installation of rooftop solar panels could cause a danger to the public, to neighbours or residents of a community. An example, is in the Darwin area, where regular strong winds make the installation of solar panels.
  • Listed buildings. If your building is listed or a registered heritage building, then any significant structural work, including solar, must be approved by your local council.
  • Old buildings. The age of your building can sometimes determine whether or not you can install solar panels. This is to do with the roof load and wider public safety.
  • Roof size. Depending on the size of your roof, the number of panels you’re installing and how close these panels sit to the roof edge, you may also require a permit.

It can be frustrating to have red tape to cut through on your route to solar, but building permits are usually fairly easy to come by.

It is also worth remembering that though these regulations may seem unfair, they are their to protect the general public, including you, from any harm.

Shirley Liu

Shirley Liu is a program manager at finder, formerly the publisher for Banking and Investments. She is passionate about helping people make an informed decision, save money and find the best deal for their needs.

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