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Dealing with your Council

by Megan Rushton

Most home renovation requires planning consent from your local council. So make sure you deal with the red tape before you begin.

Home alterations or extensions usually require special planning approval from your local council.

As a guide, you will need a development application if you plan to do any of the following:

  • build a new building or structure
  • build a swimming pool, retaining wall, or external building such as a laundry
  • extend or make an addition to an existing building
  • change the intended use of a building
  • demolish, damage or alter a building, structure or place that is listed as heritage
  • demolish a building
  • carry out earthworks or excavation
  • subdivide land or subdivide a building or structure

It’s a good idea to visit the council in person and have a discussion about your project before you do it.

The first step is to find out from your local council what regulations govern alterations or additions to properties in your suburb.

You can ask questions such as “Am I in a heritage or conservation area?” “What are the height restrictions, floor-space ratio limits, and minimum setback requirements?”

It is often easier and quicker to engage a design professional such as an architect if you need to prepare a Development Application (DA) and Construction Certificate (CC).

Remember to talk to your neighbours about your plans as well as they are likely to be concerned about overshadowing, loss of privacy or loss of views.

Council will provide you with the agreed hours within which building work must be carried out, usually between 7am and 6pm on weekdays and until 1pm on Saturdays.

When you have your draft plans ready, take them into council along with any supporting documentation such as a tree report, heritage-impact report etc which may help your application.

Part of your DA may also require you to prepare a Waste Management Plan. This will outline how you will remove waste from any demolition.

Once you’ve lodged your DA, be prepared to wait for around 6 weeks before you are notified.

If your application is approved, you can start work. Don’t alter the approved application or you could end being fined and forced to demolish the unauthorised alterations at your own cost.

The requirements of various councils can vary quite significantly, so it’s important to gather information as early as possible to identify what your council needs to pass your plans.

Getting your DA approved can be a frustrating experience, but early planning can save you a lot of headaches. Finding out exactly what council needs, engaging a professional to help and talking to your neighbours will help make the much easier.

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