Building Overlays

A building overlay is an additional set of building regulations that further define conditions under which you can build in that area.

Sometimes these are for reasons of safety, such as the Land Subject to Inundation Overlay, which affects land that may be in danger of flooding.

Other times overlays may be put in place to preserve the character of an area, such as with the Heritage Overlay.

Building Work

‘Building work’ is defined by Council as “work for/or in connection with the construction, renovation, alteration, demolition, relocation or removal of a building, including landscaping, concreting and subdivision road construction but excludes Minor Building Works.”

“Minor Building Work” refers to building work valued at less than $5,000 with the exception of, (regardless of value):

  • The construction of any masonry structure
  • The demolition and removal of building and structures
  • Any individual project determined as non-minor by a building surveyor

Cross Street

When two streets intersect and keep going, creating the shape of a cross, this intersection can be referred to as a ‘cross street’. The term is more specifically used in building to refer to the nearest road intersection.


An ‘easement’ is a section of your property that someone else has a legal interest in. Specifically it tends to refer to a section of a property reserved for the installation of services; such as stormwater drains or sewers. Where such services exist or will be needed in the future, the easement should be kept clear for maintenance and access. Some drainage easements are also designed to allow stormwater to flow over the surface during large storms.

Legal Point of Discharge

The ‘legal point of discharge of a property’, is the point where stormwater on your property is drained to. Generally this is the lowest point on the property, where water naturally flows to.

You’ll need to provide information about where this point is to successfully apply for a building permit.

For more information, see Legal Point of Discharge (LPOD).

Public Assets and Infrastructure

For examples, see:

  • The drains that prevent your property from flooding
  • The cables and pipes that supply your home with power
  • The nature strips that provide us with greenery
  • The roads that allow our vehicles to zip us around
  • The footpaths and bike lanes we use when foot powered

These are known as public assets and infrastructure, because the public has a right to the continuance of the services they supply. Public infrastructure can be items, facilities or systems which provide or just facilitate a public service.

These are officially owned by our local councils when they are not the official property of the utility companies, like Melbourne Water, that use them.

As such, Council has the right and responsibility to protect these public assets.


In building work, (and in law), repairs and maintenance are defined differently to the dictionary.

Repairs are a specific exemption to the building codes and regulation to enable you to:

  • Fix leaky taps,
  • Patch holes in the plasterboard, and
  • Change a light bulb

You can ‘renew’ or ‘fix’ defects or damages, but even if the dictionary definition would include them as repairs, you’ll always need a permit for:

  • Demolitions or removals
  • Structural alterations.
  • Building a new structure (even if it’s to replace an existing one)
  • Using completely different types of materials.

Single-Skin of Brickwork

A ‘single skin’ or single layer of brickwork is often used in low level fences, garages and brick veneers.

Practical, and often pretty, as a building material, it does not have the structural strength to hold up a teenager and the impact of a successful slam-dunk.

If you have a basketball ring attached to single skin of brickwork, get it down as quickly as is safely possible.


The ‘siting’ of your building is literally the site or location it has been, (or will be) built on. Requirements for where you can and can’t place your building are referred to as ‘siting’ requirements.

This tends to include a lot of distance measurements such as:

  • Distance from other buildings.
  • Distance from the front of the property (set-backs).
  • Fire safety – distance from escape routes.

Standard Drawings

These are examples of the type of technical drawings you’ll need to apply for a permit.

They are provided to give you an idea of the level, (or standard), of detail and accuracy required.

Street Alignment

The Building Regulations define ‘street alignment’ as the line between a street and a plot of land. This is the line where your property ends and the public domain begins. The term is often used in ‘siting’ requirements and in describing the restrictions on fence heights.


The process of dividing a plot of land into two or more plots with separate titles is known as subdivision.

This is most commonly referred to when a home owner builds a smaller unit or townhouse where their backyard used to be.

Sometimes the resulting plots are also referred to this way.

However this also occurs whenever a building estate or development breaks a huge block of land into individual residential blocks, in the process of building new houses.

Just about every residential house in Monash would have once been subdivided from the original plot of land this way.

The Land Information office refers to your property information as “plans of subdivision.”


In modern building, the ‘truss’ or support structure for the roof is a complex creation often built off-site.

If your building project involves roofing structures, you will need to provide the layout and calculations of the roof truss in order to successfully apply for a Building Permit.

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Last updated: 12 May 2021