Have you ever thought about building a structure on your property and thought to yourself ‘It’s ok, council don’t need to know about this, I’ll just go ahead and build it?’ This may seem like a good idea at the time but can eventually come back to bite you in the butt!

This is the type of structure that would be classed as an unauthorised structure and require a retrospective approval.

Councils have this wonderful software that allows them to view all the properties in their jurisdiction. This contains lots of helpful information such as the zoning of the property, the land parcel size and gives them an overall aerial view of each property. This software is used for many purposes by council and by other businesses too. We make use of the land sizes and planning information, such as zoning, to aid us in working out permitted site coverage and setbacks. Council use this software for many things too, including keeping an eye on unauthorised structures. But we find most retrospective approvals are needed due the owners wanting to sell their homes.

So, what does a retrospective approval mean?

A retrospective approval is simply that, dealing with the approval of a structure after it has been built. It should be noted that this process is a lot more expensive than if you had gained the necessary approvals before starting to build.

What is involved in a retrospective application?

Firstly, we need to visit site to view the structure, take measurements and pictures. We then draft up the plans ready for the engineer.

The next stage is the engineer visiting site. They may need to access the roof to check the fixing and tie downs and ensure they have thoroughly checked over the structure they will be signing off on. The engineer will then use our plans to make notes, write their report and provide certification.

We then move on to the building surveyor. The building surveyor will thoroughly check over our plans and the engineer’s documents, assess it against the National Construction Code and ensure compliance with the Building Act of WA. Once this checking process is complete, they will issue a Certificate of Building Compliance. In some cases, we may also need to provide a Bushfire Attack Level Assessment or an Energy Efficiency Report, depending on what the unauthorised structure is and where the site is located.

When this is all completed and signed off, we are ready to proceed to council.

Council needs to know that the structures we are building and the additions, extensions, and alterations we make to our homes are safe and well built. This is why we are required to gain building approval prior to starting any of these works. Council uses this process to check over the engineering documents and complete their own due diligence to ensure the safety of the home’s occupants. When we try to shortcut the system Council will penalise us by way of additional fees, in the hope that we might learn from this lesson and not do it again.

In short, if you have a structure at your home that requires a retrospective approval, or if you have bought a property only to find out that something was built without approval, there are processes in place to get them approved. If you are unsure on how to approach any of this, you can easily book an appointment to speak with a council officer, who will provide advice on what steps to take. Otherwise, if the Complete Approvals team can help, please reach out.

Happy building!