Think before you build

If you are planning any home improvements, additions or renovations be aware of the fact that all building plans have to be submitted to the relevant Local Authority for approval. If you fail to do this you could end up tearing down, ripping up and demolishing any work you do.


In the past few years a harder line has been taken against offending homeowners who don't submit proper plans, and while you may think you are safe for the time being, what happens when you eventually sell your home?

Whenever the nature of the work involves excavation of land, electricity supply, plumbing and drainage, you must contact your Local Authority to find out exactly what is required. In fact, any new building or alteration that adds on to or changes the structure of an existing building must be approved prior to any constructing being commenced.

What does this mean?

If you are planning to add on a carport, or even just move the front door, you do need permission. When you submit a building plan for approval it is essential that you make sure that you have complied with the Zoning Regulations of the Town Planning Scheme.

Type of improvements that require plans

- Erecting a boundary wall
- Installing a swimming pool
- Adding another storey to your existing dwelling
- Converting a garage to a dwelling
- Adding on a sunroom or walled patio
- Moving or adding doors or windows

Generally you don’t require plans for internal renovation provided you are not knocking out load-bearing walls – walls that are integral to the support of the building. If they are support walls, you will require planning approval.

If you are planning to submit your plans yourself once they have been drawn by a draughtsman or Architect, check that you have everything in place. It can be very frustrating to submit your plans thinking everything is in order only to find yourself facing extensive delays, for example, the engineer’s form. But, if you do decide to do the submissions yourself you will need the following:

• Application forms obtained from your Local Authority

• Plans

• Standard forms from consulting engineers (if required)

• A copy of the title deed

• Zoning certificate

If you have contracted a builder to do your building, all of these requirements will be seen to by the builder. If you are owner-building, make sure you contact your local municipality and speak to the building inspector there and ask for all the necessary information.

Homeowners who fail to submit plans for approval can be ordered to stop construction immediately and a building inspector could even obtain a Court Order for the structure to be demolished, at your expense, and you would be liable for legal costs as well. In serious cases, you could be fined, or sent to prison.

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