Council Permit - Building Permit

Dreaming of renovating your property?

Before you start choosing what pavers to use for your landscapes or what colour to paint your façade,  you need to first make sure to get the less glamourous side of renovations sorted: council permits.

Although permits and paperwork are the last thing anyone wants to do in any project, it is essential to make sure that your renovations have all the right approvals before you start ripping up your floors or building scaffolds as it proves that your renovation plans comply with local regulations, building codes and safety standards, and preventing legal issues.

Before you get lost wandering the aisles of your local Bunnings for inspiration, consult with your local council to understand if and what permits you actually need.

What Sort Of Work Needs A Council Permit?

The rules and regulations vary across the different Councils throughout Australia. As a general guideline, unless you need to structurally change your property, internal renovations such as painting walls or changing cabinetry won’t need council consent.

In NSW, the general rule of thumb is, you will need a council permit if your construction or renovation project is valued at $5,000 or above.

If your plans involve structural modifications, major extensions, any undertaking involving extensive excavations or fills, or building external buildings, you will need council consent before starting your project. For example, garages and carports, fences, decks and verandas, retaining walls, and balconies will all require council permits to go ahead.

Specific conditions may apply to particular buildings or zones. Heritage-listed properties, for example, require approval for nearly any change, including painting. Projects in environmentally sensitive or bushfire-prone areas also have additional requirements.

Council Permit - Building Plans

The Different Types Of Council Permits

With that being said, what are the different types of permits you need before you start work?

A planning permit ensures that your land can be used or developed for a particular purpose, such as building a verandah behind your property. An approved planning permit doesn’t mean that you are now authorised to start your construction project; it is a separate application to the building permit (but can be submitted at the same time!).

A building permit is your licence to build your project. It ensures the safety, health, and structural stability of your building, and shows that your approved plans and specifications complies with building regulations. These are displayed outside all renovation projects, from residential homes and big construction sites.

The Application Process

Now that you know what council permits exist, how do you go about actually getting council approval for your project?

As we said before, council regulations vary across each council area. However, the following steps can provide you with a foundational guide to kickstart this process:

  1. Organise an initial consultation with your council. This helps confirm the specific policies, procedures, and any fees associated with your renovation project. Each council may have different regulations, so it is important to gather this information directly from the source to ensure your project complies with local standards.
  2. Once you have an understanding of the council requirements, the next step is to hire a skilled draftsman or architect who can bring your renovation project to life on paper whilst ensuring that your plans adhere to all relevant building codes, council regulations, and local planning laws. They can also offer invaluable advice and suggestions on how to make the most out of your space.
  3. Get your plans certified by a Building Certifier, who will review the plans to ensure they meet all the necessary safety and structural standards. This step is essential as it provides assurance to the council that your plans are in compliance with the Building Code of Australia.
  4. Appoint a Principal Certifier (PC). The PC plays a critical role throughout the construction phase of your project. They are responsible for overseeing the construction to ensure that it aligns with the approved plans, and they are responsible for issuing an Occupation Certificate upon completion of your project, which is an official declaration that your project meets all the required standards and is safe for occupation. Your PC can be the same as your Building Certifier.
Council Permit - Approved

Some Handy Hints For A Smooth Application Process

  • Be patient and apply early. Approvals can often take up to six months or more.
  • Personally contact your council. Don’t rely on the advice of neighbours or even contractors about whether your project needs approval.
  • Be prepared and have all the relevant information ready. If you have ticked all the right boxes, your application will be easier and faster to process.
  • Regularly communicate with the council as you prepare your documentation before lodging your application. After lodging your application, be proactive about meeting requests for more information.
  • Include application fees in your budget as fees may apply at different stages of the application process.
  • Avoid making changes to your plans once they have been approved. Changing your approved plans can be costly as it might require further approvals, causing delays mid-project.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask questions. It is better to double check any details you’re not sure of beforehand, than receive a fine or have to undo something later on.
  • Once you have your approval, start your project before it expires. If the approval expires, you will have to go through the process again.

Council permits is a time-consuming but essential part of any construction or renovation project. Use Star PM’s Know-How to help you navigate this process for a smooth, efficient, and fast renovation.

Contact us today.