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Expert advice key to navigating council approvals

Planning a new home can be exciting as you imagine all the possibilities, from a wide-reaching patio to a large shed to house all your do-it-yourself projects, but how do you navigate council approvals for these added features?

Working predominately with rural blocks, Ross Squire Homes Design and Building Consultant Wayne March said there were many factors to consider in the council approval process.

“Navigating the approval process can often be tricky, along with being time-consuming and frustrating, so engaging with an industry expert can help minimise potential delays,” he said.

“Often delays can come about from particular councils requiring additional information. An industry expert may have knowledge around what information different councils may want to see on the plans and can guide you through the design process.”

Before filling your head with ideas of an exposed aggregate carport or a granny flat to house the in-laws, Mr March said it was important to find a reputable builder who could help you understand the requirements early on and avoid hefty costs in site work.

“Once planning approval has been granted where required, a set of engineer-approved plans is submitted for certification and building license approval,” he said.

“Planning and building approval together can take three to four months and longer in some cases, dependent on what needs to be approved.

“Engineer-certified plans and a building license could take two to three months without planning approval required.”

As individual councils often have their own unique rules that overlay general planning or building requirements, Mr March said knowing what these were would help streamline the approval process.

“It’s important to understand potential boundary setbacks and find out if there is a building envelope,” he said.

“Building within boundary setbacks and building envelopes can sometimes avoid planning approval through the process.”

Not only are building permits usually required for the construction of new buildings and structures, alterations and additions to new buildings also require approval, according to Mr March.

“There are multiple structures and types of landscaping that require council approval,” he said.

“Usually main dwellings, ancillary accommodation, large sheds and outdoor structures such as patios and carports need to go through the approval process.”

For rural properties, you may have to do your research on the Bush Fire Attack Level – a means of measuring the severity of a building’s potential exposure to ember attack and direct flame contact.

For a shire such as Serpentine-Jarrahdale, for example, installing and maintaining firebreaks each year is a legal requirement for all landowners and occupiers.

“If you’re building rural, find out the Bush Fire Attack Level information and whether clearing will be required,” Mr March said. “Often councils require planning approval to clear bushland.”

CONTACT Ross Squire Homes, 9278 3400, www.rsh.com.au

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