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Home additions or extensions? Make sure you abide by your council rules!

10:13 AM

We completely get it, you have this amazing idea to turn an average slice of suburbia into your dream home and you can’t wait to get started.

Before you get too carried away however, it’s important you find out what your council’s rules are around renovations and extensions. Depending on your property type and where it is located you may have constraints placed on what you can do. Don’t be put off, we have found councils generally want to work with you; it’s often a matter of give and take.

To help you out, we’ve put together some tips so you can navigate your way through your council obligations.

  1. But I’m only making minor changes…

If you want to install something simple such as a new carport, shed or fence, or make minor interior changes, chances are you won’t need council approval. However, no matter what you are planning, we always suggest you contact council first. The last thing you want is to blithely proceed with your renovations then find out you’re not compliant. You could receive a fine or, in serious cases, be ordered to remove or demolish the additions. It’s a simple thing, pick up the phone, talk to a council planner and then you have peace of mind.

  1. Wanting to do something bigger?

Most local councils have their own planning policy so if you’ve moved from one LGA to another, even within the same state, the rules governing renovations may vary. If you want to extend or demolish part of your property it’s highly likely you’ll need to submit a planning application. Most councils provide information on planning applications on their website and some even have a step by step checklist to take you through the process. If you’re concerned, or unsure how to proceed, request a meeting with a council planning officer. Do be aware the approval process may take some time.

  1. The Heritage question

When you bought your home you probably found out its heritage status. If you’re uncertain you can check the heritage overlay, either with your council or the Victorian Heritage Register. If your property does fall within a heritage overlay you’ll need to find out what constraints your architect may need to comply with the renovations . Even changing your external colour scheme or upgrading your fence could trigger the need for a planning permit if your house has registered heritage values. Again, your council should have a heritage advisor who can advise you on what you can and cannot do.

  1. So you’ve submitted your planning application – what next?

Depending on the scale of your renovations, it’s possible you’ll need to apply for further permits before construction starts. Applications for construction-phase permits tend to be much more straightforward than your planning application. If you’d like to request a skip or building materials to be stored on public property or, need to erect scaffolding across a public footpath you’ll want to talk to council about relevant permits. Talk to your builder first and then contact your council.

We know the council approval process can feel overwhelming. We are always happy to offer you general advice on such matters, just ask us when you make an appointment.