Maintaining Your Home


Asbestos was commonly used in the manufacture of building materials from the mid-1940s until the late 1980s. Asbestos can pose a serious health risk if fibres are breathed into the lungs. You have a legal responsibility when building or renovating to ensure asbestos is safety removed and disposed of. If you suspect asbestos is present, you should have a qualified asbestos removalist inspect the material for verification. 

The Environment Protection Authority is the relevant agency for enforcing the correct removal and disposal requirements.

Information on asbestos, including contact details for removalists, can be found at the Asbestos in Victoria website.

Balconies, decks & balustrades

It is important that owners and occupiers conduct regular checks of balustrades and railings to ensure they are safe to use, and that any necessary upkeep is undertaken. 

Checks of balustrades and railings, particularly of timber construction on domestic decks and balconies, should be part of an ongoing building maintenance program. If not properly maintained, balustrades can fail, resulting in serious injury or even death. 

Please note replacement of balustrades, decks and balconies requires a building permit.

Further information on maintaining your balcony, deck and balustrade can be found at the Victorian Building Authority Website.

Smoke alarms

Smoke alarms are compulsory and must be installed in every residential building on or near the ceiling of every storey. Smoke alarms must be connected to your building's power mains, as well as having a battery back-up, unless your building was built before 1 August 1997, where a battery-powered back-up meets the regulations.

If you are renting a dwelling or unit, it is your landlord's responsibility to ensure smoke alarms are installed and kept in working condition. However, you can take action to ensure compliance with the regulations at any time.

Smoke alarms are intended to detect smoke before it reaches people sleeping in a building. Therefore alarms must be located in a position designed to wake sleeping occupants in time to evacuate a building.

Further information can be found at the CFA website.

Swimming Pool/Spa Safety Barriers

Pool and spa owners have legal obligations to maintain their safety barriers at all times. Non-compliance, for any reason, can increase the risk of drowning and lead to prosecution. Read more swimming pools and spas here.

Further Information, including safety barrier checklists, can be found at  the VBA website.

Water tanks

Water tanks must be installed and certified by a licensed plumber. Domestic rainwater tanks do not need a building permit, however if there are earthworks, retaining walls or any type of building structure associated with the tank, you may be required to apply for a building and/or planning permit.

All tanks must be fitted with an overflow pipe of the same diameter as the inlet pipe. The outlet must be connected to a stormwater drainage system going to the legal point of discharge.

Tanks must not be placed on an easement without approval from the relevant authority or over septic systems, including sand filters.


Rain that runs off your property is called stormwater. It is vital to consider natural drainage paths and stormwater when you are undertaking any building works, including ensuring that runoff from the building site itself does not contaminate the stormwater system.

Extensive information on stormwater, including in relation to the responsibilities of landowners, is available on Council's stormwater page.  


The Colac Otway Shire does not have any designated termite areas. However, as termites are known to be present in the shire we recommend treatment when carrying out any building works.

Further information can be found at the Victorian Building Authority

Visit Council's Building & Planning Resources page for building and planning application and registration forms.