Start planning your changes

When you first take over a new premises, you'll probably want to incorporate some changes to make the place your own.

To ensure you do this correctly, you'll need to:

  • organise a pre-application meeting with a council planner – this helps ensure your plans will be processed by council and avoid delays, and you can utilise this meeting to discuss likely issues with the current plans
  • contract a private registered building surveyor or a builder/registered building practitioner (RBP) in your area.
  • check if you need a new safety assessment of your workplace by contacting Worksafe Victoria. If you have up to 20 employees, you may be eligible for a free, three hour safety consultation session through the WorkSafe OHS Essentials Program.

Changing a leased premise

If you're making changes to a leased premise, you'll need to complete the steps above, as well as making sure you:

  1. check the lease to see if you need to request changes through your landlord – in most cases, you'll need written approval from your landlord before making any modifications to your leased premises
  2. read the Retail Leases Act 2003 on the Victorian Small Business Commission (VSBC) website for guidance if you're leasing a retail premise or a shop
  3. check your lease agreement to see if it includes a clause to use a trade worker chosen by your landlord
  4. check the VSBC frequently asked questions
  5. check if your lease has a 'make good' clause, and talk with your landlord about whether your changes can be permanent, or if you need to revert them at the end of your lease – if this is the case, remember to budget for this
  6. visit our retail lease disputes page for three easy steps to resolve your dispute – even the most carefully laid plans can go wrong.

Submitting your application

When you submit your application, you should:

  1. ask your landlord if they'll pay for any of your changes – they may be interested in sharing costs if the changes enhance the value of their property
  2. talk to your neighbours so you're aware of their concerns – most people appreciate the opportunity to discuss plans before the formal notice process commences
  3. submit your application to your local council advertising your change proposal
  4. give notice to anyone who might be affected by the proposal – your local council will advise the best method to notify neighbours, usually by letter and a visible sign on-site
  5. receive your Notice of Decision to Grant a Permit from council, signalling council's decision to grant the permit and identifying the conditions to be included on it
  6. meet any conditions the council stipulates in your permit approval, for example a permit to add a cafe to a clothing store might be issued on the condition a certain number of car-parking spaces are provided
  7. inform your customers about any changes to your operating hours, car parking or access during construction.