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:
- know your local council's planning permit process – a good first step is contacting the Council Planning Department to ensure you comply with the Planning and Environment Act 1987.
- Visit the Guide to Victoria's planning system.
- check if you need a planning permit, building permit or any other local, state or federal licence, permit or registration by searching Australian Business Licence and Information Service (ABLIS)
- 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.
- Use the Victorian Building Commission's Building Commission's Practitioner Search for a list of registered inspectors, surveyors, builders, draftsperson, landscapers, engineers and similar trade services
- 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.
- know what insurance cover you should have, and what must you have.
- Read the basics of finding the right insurance.
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:
- 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
- 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
- check your lease agreement to see if it includes a clause to use a trade worker chosen by your landlord
- check the VSBC frequently asked questions
- 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
- 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:
- 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
- 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
- submit your application to your local council advertising your change proposal
- 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
- 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
- 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
- inform your customers about any changes to your operating hours, car parking or access during construction.