Council approvals required for renovations can be a maze. Where do you look to find the right info? Making large changes to your home including renovations of existing buildings or extensions is an exciting development. Whether it is because your family is growing or simply because you would like a fresh new look to the home, it still comes with a process that needs to be followed. Even though your home is yours, you are still required to get council approval for various changes that you want to make.
There is a process that you need to do through with the builders and council to ensure everything is completed legally and correctly.

What do I need approval for?
Generally internal renovations do not require council approval. This is providing that there is no structural changes being made. If structural changes are required, then it is possible that you need to inform the council prior to beginning.
For external renovations including making structural changes, adding or removing parts of the home or extending the home to a second storey – you need to seek council approval prior to commencing.
Anything that requires extensive excavation or filling or the addition of a new dwelling (such as a granny flat) will also require approval.

How do I find out if I need Council approval?
It is best to always contact your local council yourself to get the right answer. Advice from friends, neighbours or contractors may be outdated and incorrect. Rather than assuming that you do not need approval based on the word of someone else, find out for sure yourself.
Each local council have their own rules and regulations around building on residential property and as such you need to get in contact with your council.
The councils all have their own websites which you can visit to find out about the approvals required. It is also a good idea to then either visit or phone your local council and speak to someone about it. Having verbal confirmation from a council member will help. You will be educated on what you need to provide, the application process and length of time it may take for approval.

What does the process look like?
Once you have confirmation that your renovations need approval, you will be able to get started on the application. The council will be able to provide you with the details of what you will need to provide with your application including documentation, payment of fees and a copy of the plans.
Once you have confirmed these details with the council, the process can begin. The first step will be to have a qualified draftsmen or architect draw up the plans for your renovations and changes to be made.

Once the plans are completed, they need to be certified by a Building Certifier. This is to ensure that they comply with the Building Code of Australia.
With the certified plans, you are then able to submit your application to council, along with any other supporting documents that they may ask for.
There may be times throughout the process that the council member requests additional documents or information in order to complete the application.
You will also need to appoint a Principal Certifying Authority. In many cases, this will be the same person who certified your plans in the beginning. They are responsible for signing off that the renovations have been completed as per the approved plan.

What happens while we wait for approval?
The application process can be length and can take months to come through. It is important to stay patient and communication with your assigned council member. Unfortunately until the approval comes through, you are unable to commence any of the work that is a part of the application.
Once you do receive the approval, sticking to the plans is also important. Making changes means that you then need to seek amended approval which can both delay the construction and cost you a lot of unnecessary money.

If you are unsure on what requires approval. Or want to get the process started. The best place to start is your local council website. There will be both fact sheets and FAQs that you can refer to. If you are still unsure, give them a call and get confirmation.

Your builders will have a strong understanding of what is required and the process, however knowing yourself as well and being informed and educated will keep you protected.
Happy building! If you still need to find a builder, head over to our directory to find one in your local area