Are you considering making improvements or alterations to your home?
If you are conducting any significant works or home improvements it is likely you will have to have them approved by your local council before any works begin. In some localities, even smaller jobs such as tree removal and putting up a garden shed may also require approval. If you fail to secure the necessary approvals you may be compelled to pay a fine and/or be forced to have the work altered or removed at your cost.
The easiest way to clarify this is to contact your local council and get advice from a local planning officer or duty planner. They will tell you if formal approval is necessary and if so, what type or types are required.
Approval from council is generally required for any works that changes the structure or appearance of a home. Examples of this include an addition, adding another floor, reconfiguring internal spaces as well as structures such as pergolas, decks and garages. Some smaller works such as a patio may not require approval, and are classed as exempt. Some councils may also offer a fast-track option for projects which have limited structural impact - such as the addition of a granny flat, and in some states are referred to as a complying development.
The planning approval process typically involves the submission of a Development Application (DA) to council. This details all aspects of your project and allows council to consider:
Industry professionals, such as builders, landscapers and architects, who are familiar with local council processes, are best placed to help you with your submission.
Depending on the scale and complexity of the renovation – and the local council – the approval process can be as quick as one month, or longer, and may require the submission of additional supporting information. Your application to council will also incur a fee, which varies locally. If your DA is refused, you can apply to have it reviewed by council or lodge an appeal, but this is an expensive and time consuming processes.
All planning regulation are there to protect a number of stakeholders, including the privacy of your neighbours as well as the aesthetics of your street. There may also be geotechnical or structural issues that need to be taken into account, as well as environmental considerations such as the proximity of a bushfire zone or local heritage building considerations.
If you are likely to be dealing with council for your project, take time to educate yourself about all the processes and documentation before you get started. Besides getting advice from council itself, your tradie or builder could also be a useful source of information.