Planning and Building Permits That You Need to Build a House

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Building a new home is an exciting opportunity for any family. It allows them to develop a new lifestyle and it gives them a chance to have a rental property in the future. However, a brand-new home doesn’t come without its challenges.

One of these challenges is getting all the necessary council permits. Indeed, the process of acquiring permits can take months or even a whole year to complete. You need to deal with countless regulations, objections and dozens of planning documents. Because it’s such a complicated process, you’ll likely need the help of architectural builders to obtain the needed permits.

To help you through this prolonged endeavor, we’ve listed the four of the common planning and building permits that you’ll be needing to build a home in Australia.

It’s important to remember that policies and requirements might differ slightly depending on the municipality that you’re in. Because of this, it’s best to contact your local council to confirm all permits that you’ll need to build your home.

  1. Town Planning Permit

A town planning permit ensures that the property that’s about to be built adheres to the design regulations of the local council. The issuance of the permit is essentially the council giving you permission to use and modify a portion of land.

You can acquire a town planning permit as the property owner, or you can get an architect or a builder to obtain it for you. Since the process requires you to lodge an exhaustive list of documents and plans, it is recommended that you go with the latter option. Additionally, because the quality of the documents and plans are essential in getting your application approved, it’s best to leave the process to experienced professionals.

Fortunately, not all homes require a town planning permit. In Victoria, single dwellings don’t require a permit so long as they adhere to the Residential Development Standards (ResCode).

However, you will need a town planning permit if:

  • You’re constructing a dual-occupancy or multi-residential building
  • Your property is affected by zoning restrictions and requirements
  • Your property is affected by a planning overlay (e.g., a heritage or vegetation overlay)

During your application, you must also address any objections that your neighbors might have. If there are objections, you or your builders must alter the building plans and re-apply for the permit.

  1. Building Permit

In Victoria, you or your architect (with your authorization), must appoint a qualified building surveyor. Through your building surveyor, you will be able to apply for a building permit.

Building surveyors are experts when it comes to the ins and outs of the building process. Their responsibility is to ensure that your home can be accessed and occupied safely. Surveyors also evaluate the property’s overall energy efficiency.

A building permit allows your builders to construct a residential home based on the approved plans and documents that were submitted. It certifies that your building complies with local policies and regulations. It also ensures you, the homeowner, that the builders are registered, reliable and carry the necessary insurance.

Similar to the town planning permit, not all construction projects require a building permit. You may not need a permit if you’re working with one of the following projects:

  • Pergolas, verandas or patios that are associated with the existing house
  • Repair and maintenance work
  • Minor changes or demolitions
  • Sheds with a floor area of less than 10m2

Keep in mind that each state and territory might have different policies. As such, it’s recommended that you contact your local council for more information.

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  1. Demolition Permit

If you need to destroy a particular structure to construct a new building, you will likely need a demolition permit. In Victoria, a Section 29A consent for proposed demolition is required when:

  • The demolition involves more than one half of the existing building’s volume
  • The demolition involves any part of the building’s facade

If your project involves a site with historical significance, the demolition process might be restricted or even completely prohibited by the local council.

It’s also important to remember that the City of Melbourne can’t issue a demolition permit if they don’t have authority on the land or if the planning permit has been issued under the Heritage Act 1995 or issued by the Minister for Planning.

  1. Tree Removal Permit

The City of Melbourne Council has made it a goal to double the canopy coverage across the city by 2040. Because of this, if you want to remove or prune a tree, you will need to go through a formal approval process. This process typically involves a site inspection and an arboricultural evaluation of the tree. After these assessments, the Council will decide whether or not a tree removal permit can be issued.

According to the Council, all ‘significant’ trees will require a permit before they are removed or modified. A significant tree is any tree with a trunk circumference greater than 155 cm and a height greater than a meter above ground level. A significant tree can also be a tree that is listed on the Significant / Exceptional Tree Register.

Getting all the necessary permits for your home is a complex and frustrating process. While it’s possible to go through the process yourself, it is highly recommended that you get qualified architects and builders to help you out. Getting professional assistance will minimize building disruptions and delays. They will ensure that your home is completed on time and to the highest of standards.

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