If the words building, planning, residential design codes, boundary setbacks or outdoor living area leave you feeling as overwhelmed as a beaver with a dam full of leaks, you should know, you are not alone.

New builds or additions to your home can be an amazing journey. Planning what you are going to build, how it’s going to look and setting out your ultimate floor plan, makes for super exciting times. It’s usually the part after this is what causes our minds to start their self destruct sequence.

There are a lot of rules and regulations to get your head around when dealing with local council’s planning and building processes. However, all the rules and regulations aside, the first step we need to look at is; does your structure require approval through council.

Isn’t that something? Not all structures require us to go through council in the first place! Great news all round.

So what structures are exempt from approvals? Great question!

The guidelines here are very black and white. If your structure meets these guidelines, you’re good to go, no approvals necessary. The guidelines you need to meet are:

  1. Your structure needs to be free-standing; as in not attaching to any existing structures.
  2. Your structure needs to have less than 10m2 overall floor area.

These guidelines would generally apply to small sheds or even a small patio type shelter, so long as it’s free-standing. If these guidelines do not apply to your structure, it’s off to building and possibly planning too.

So let’s discuss the easier application type – building!

The building department at council looks at the nuts and bolts of a structure. They’re all about, will it stand up once it’s built? Will it be structurally sound? Do the engineering documents supplied support the proposed building? Do the plans show all existing structures on site and accurately document the proposed build?

In relation to the residential design codes, the building department work in black and white. If the structure meets all required setbacks, site coverage and outdoor living area, then you pass! If it doesn’t, your application will be referred to the council’s planning department.

Now this is where it gets tricky.

Planning is easily the more difficult one to get your head around. The planning department look at your application as a whole. The will assess not only your proposed structure, but how it fits with your house, your living areas, natural sunlight, liveability, how it will affect your neighbours, and how the proposed structure fits in with the streetscape on your street too.

When applying to planning, my number one piece of advise is start with your wishlist! The reason for this is if you start with what you actually want, you may get this approved. But at the very least, it is much easier to scale back and amend with the guidance and advise of council, than it is to try and add to an application once the ball is rolling. Once you have your planning approval it is generally a short hop, skip and jump to your building permit.

I understand that sometimes we can become frustrated and don’t overly enjoy our dealings with council. But ultimately they provide a great service and are there to assist us through the planning and building processes. If you are unsure on how to approach any of this, you can easily book an appointment to speak with an officer, who will provide advice on what steps to take. Otherwise if the Complete Approvals team can help, please reach out.

Happy building!