Getting Approvals

All new buildings, additions and the demolition of existing buildings must have a Development Approval from the relevant council authority before any work can be commenced on site.

Development Approval requires an application to be lodged and fees paid to Council and will normally include the following:

Planning consent

The Council Planning Officers will assess the proposed building for compliance with a Development Plan that divides the Council area into zones in which the different building types are listed as either complying or non-complying. Typically a residential zone may be declared that requires a minimum site area for each dwelling, a minimum number of on-site carparks, a limit on the number of storeys and a minimum distance of building from the front boundary. Designs that do not comply with all provisions of a Development Plan may still obtain Planning Consent but may be subject to time delays due to arguments necessary to convince Council that the design proposal will not adversely impact on neighbouring properties.

Application can be made for Planning Consent only (without Building Consent) if an owner needs to be satisfied that a proposed design will be acceptable before incurring the costs of detailed drawings and engineering design. It is usual, however, to make a full Development Approval application for most house designs in order to save time and maintain a development program.

Building consent

The Council Building Officers will assess the Drawings, Specification and Engineering Report for the proposed building to ensure compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) that specifies a minimum standard of materials and workmanship for all the various trades required by reference to relevant Australian Standards. The BCA also prescribes minimum design standards that must be applied including the heights of safety rails, stormwater disposal systems, waterproofing of showers and wet areas generally, and standards for staircases etc.

Development approval applications

We advise prospective home owners to establish early (preferably before buying the site) contact with the planning and building officers of their council as these persons are usually keen to help with their local knowledge and their requirements as regard documents that must be included in applications.

Involvement with these applications will depend on the following:

  1. You may have worked with an Architect or Designer to the stage where you have a fully developed Plan, Elevations, Specifications, Site Survey and Engineering Report giving detailed information on proposed site excavation, underground services and footing/slab design. You proceeded this way in order to be able to get firm quotations from a number of builders before entering into a building contract. This situation suggests that the Architect/Designer make the application on your behalf and handle all council queries.
  2. You may have selected a suitable home builder, chosen a Custom Design or had your own design developed and priced by that builder. You have signed a Building Contract, paid a deposit and the builder has arranged for a Site Survey and Engineering Report. The builder will now make application for Development Approval together with all documents required by Council and (usually) pay all fees.
  3. You may have decided to be an Owner/Builder with or without assistance from an experienced Building Consultant depending upon your knowledge of the home building industry, procedures and regulations. You would surely have proceeded as outlined in 1 above and would have the Architect/Designer arrange application prior to letting any contracts to the various trade persons.


Don’t forget

Remember that garages, carports, sheds and roofed (as opposed to pergolas) outdoor areas will normally require Development Approval and you should check with your Council before making any commitment to a contractor or supplier. These relatively small additions to your home can have an important influence on the possible future re-sale value and should be progressed using experienced managers who will be wary of the possible ”cowboy” element sometimes involved.