It’s exhilarating planning a major extension or renovation project for your home. You’ve got so many dreams about how it will change your everyday life and make everything easier.
But, in all the discussions, consultations with your architect or builder, costings and sourcing of perfect materials, is there something you’re forgetting?
Many homeowners get so caught up in the excitement of renovation plans they forget to investigate whether they need to get a permit for their home additions. To help, we’ve put together this handy guide to permit do’s and don’ts in Victoria.
Do I need a building permit?
Depending on where you live, most Australian councils will have a series of rules and regulations that you must, by law, adhere to for any building project you undertake. Failing to do your due diligence can mean hefty fines and/or a request from council to demolish your extension, apply for a permit, and rebuild only after it’s approved.
Permits are issued by private or council-employed surveyors. They’ll use their expertise to inspect your plans and work site to ensure your structure meets construction Building Code of Australia regulations. You must display your permit on site and send a copy to the local council.
As the homeowner, it’s your obligation to check whether you’ll need a permit and obtain it (although you can also authorise your builder to do it for you). Any structural work requires your builder or tradesperson to be registered, and you’ll definitely need a building permit, even if it’s a small job. Make sure you have a copy in your hand before you start any work.
To have your permit approved, you’ll likely need to provide plans and specifications of all the work you expect to do to your local council as part of the application process. These can also be provided by your builder, or you can employ an architect or draftsperson to draw them up for you.
Double check that everything you want in your renovation is detailed on the plans, including materials, appliances, fittings and even colour schemes.
If your extension or renovation is likely to cost more than $10,000 you might need to check that your builder is registered for the kind of work he or she intends to perform for you. They’ll be required to give you a major domestic building contract and we recommend getting a suitably experienced lawyer to look it over for you before you sign anything.
For building projects over $16,000, you must also receive a current certificate of domestic building insurance from your builder before any money changes hands or work begins. You’ll also want to check whether your home and contents insurance covers you for renovation work—if not, it’s a wise idea to pay for extra cover during the building period.
And it’s not all over once your extension or renovation work is complete. Before you move the furniture in, you’ll also need to acquire a Certificate of Final Inspection or Occupancy Permit as the final step of the building process.
It might seem draconian, but the building permits process is in place to safeguard people from dodgy tradespeople, shoddy workmanship and community eyesores. The last thing you want is for all your hard-earned renovation budget to be wasted because your extension is below par or impossible to live in. And that’s without worrying about whether it’s a hazard to your loved ones and visitors.