DETAILS ON SUNDRY PERMITS FOR A NEW HOME
Welcome to this fourth and last blog on permits – the permit series as we’re calling it. You don’t have to have read the other three for this one to make sense, but they’ve got a wealth of information in them, so don’t miss out – read them when you get a chance.
Getting permits has been a part of our business life for a long time, and in this blog we’re going to talk about details on sundry permits for a new home.
By the way, if you would rather watch our video on this topic, click the play button below, otherwise, jump below and keep reading!
The first one we want to talk about is a septic permit, sometimes called a wastewater permit. Now this is where you apply to the local shire or council, to their health department, to allow you to get a septic system or wastewater treatment plant installed. So obviously if you’re going to need this permit, then it goes without saying that you’re building on a rural – or at least semi-rural block of land, where there’s no town or mains sewer available.
The process involved in getting this permit runs something along these lines.
Step one. Get a report from a geotechnical engineer called an LCA. This stands for land capability assessment, and it’s basically a glorified soil test that shows a recommended system type and size based on the results of the soil testing.
Step Two is to get this information on the site plans to make sure it’s clear for the health officer. Good plans equals a good outcome. And then you need to line up a plumber. Generally this will involve sending them the LCA, and in some situations they’ll want to visit the site. And the reason you need a plumber is because you can’t lodge for a septic permit application without specifying who’s going to install it.
We’ve got a blog all about septic systems and it’s very apropos about this point of the plumber getting involved – so look that up on our website if you can.
And then all of the info gets collated together and the application form filled out and sent into council. Of course, they’ll ask for payment of a lodgement fee, and then they’ll assess it and hopefully issue it.
Bear in mind that the health officer has a certain amount of autocracy about the type of system that will be installed – it can be quite a process of back and forth – especially if it’s a tricky site. And for even tricker sites, the water board may have their say. Fun and games.
And by the way, you can’t get a building permit until you have a septic permit.
So that’s it on septic permits.
Let’s look at the ResCode now – which is the shortened term for residential code. This is a code or law that applies to residential blocks, so we’re on the opposite side of the coin to what we’ve just been talking about with rural blocks. And under this code, there’s a heap of very specific rules and regulations around what can and can’t be done on a town or city block.
Just to understand where the ResCode has come from – it’s whole purpose is to make every home ‘neighbour friendly’. And if your home, once it’s all been designed and drawn up accurately on the site plan, doesn’t meet any of these rules, then you have to apply for what’s called report and consent.
In other words, you have to report it to your neighbours and get their consent so you can then get the council’s consent,so you can then get the building surveyors consent.
The extent of the ResCode is outside the scope of this video, but here’s a few classics we see.
Consent requested to have the front boundary setback (so the distance from the front boundary to the front of the home) further away or closer to the road than the ResCode allows for. So the ResCode specifies a setback range depending on the set backs of your neighbours homes and a couple of other things, and if the position of your proposed home is outside this, then it doesn’t comply, so you either change it or go down the road of a report and consent.
The same goes with a wall on a side boundary that’s higher than it should be under the code. And there’s also things like overlooking, overshadowing, carparking spaces, etc. There’s actually quite a few different regs.
And generally the report and consent process involves getting the detailed site plans along with a report and consent form from the council, and taking them to the relevant neighbours and leaving it with them for a few days while they chew it over, and then hopefully they sign it to say they’re happy and then you get all the signed forms back and lodge it with the council for their approval.
In practise, changing a ResCode regulation via report and consent doesn’t happen very often. And the reason for this is that the rules and regs are generally fairly reasonable and with careful planning and good design you should be able to work within them most of the time. But if there’s a genuine reason that your proposed build won’t meet a regulation, then by all means, go for it.
But bear in mind that your neighbours have to be happy. And the council also has to understand why you’re wanting the dispensation. Of course, your neighbours can really only object on relevant reasons, they can’t just refuse because they don’t like the car you drive or the colour of your shoes.
But it can be quite a drawn out process, so it’s good to make sure your builder or designer assesses the ResCode early on.
Another twist to the report and consent which we see from time to time is building in a flood prone area. This is technically not a ResCode issue, but the permit process happens along the lines of a report & consent, except instead of going to the neighbours, you’re going to the water catchment authority.
So if the council tells you early on that your block is in a flood prone location, then you’ll need to complete a report and consent form and submit it to the council with information from the water board, and the consent will be issued with a minimum floor height that your home will need to be built at.
This is called an AHD level, which stands for Australian Height Datum. It basically refers to metres above sea level. And after you get the consent, then a land surveyor will need to be engaged to put a special marker on the site that shows this height exactly, so the builders can then construct the home at the right height.
And another offshoot of the flood prone thing is that the engineer will need to design the footings for the home based on potential water flows against them in a one hundred year flood.
And one other sundry permit is an asset protection permit. This is needed in some council’s where they require you to notify them that you’re going to be building a new home and the details of the council assets that could be affected in the process. This could include things like kerbing, stormwater pipes, and even trees on the nature strip. It’s not a big permit, but just another one that’s needed.
So that’s probably the core of the sundry permits that can crop up. The secret to making sure it all runs smoothly is careful planning by the builder or designer in the early stages.
Often one of the first things we do when starting to work on a project is to write to the council and ask for information about the property. It costs a few dollars to get it, but it can save a lot of heartache later on – much better to know about the problems up front than try and solve them later on when it’s too late and the pressure is on.
As always, feel free to reach out for more information!
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