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building permit



So this is the third blog in this series on permits. By the way, you don’t have to have read the previous two blogs for this one to make sense, but we do recommend reading them when you get a chance. But this blog is all about building permits – how to get a building permit for your 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!

YouTube video


Preparing and lodging building permits is something that we’ve been doing for many years – for better or for worse! But before we get down to the detail of what a building permit actually is, we just want to clarify the difference between a building permit and a planning permit.


A building permit is a permit to construct ‘that particular house’ with all it’s intricacies and uniqueness, whereas a planning permit is a permit to put a house on ‘that particular block’, with all its differing aspects. And by the way, every single house will need a building permit – come what may.


Ok, so here’s how the permit process works.


Step one involves getting all the detail sorted for the home. This means not only the layout and facade of the home, but the real fine detail. As in exact window sizes; quantity and wattage of all the lights; location of the power points, positioning of the downpipes; extraction power of the exhaust fans. And this list goes on – literally there are hundreds of individual details that have to be clearly spelt out and recorded in an organised format well before a building application is prepared.


This level of detail is generally captured in two documents –

• The scope of works – sometimes known as the specifications.
• And the plans (or working drawings).


And these working drawings aren’t just what are sometimes referred to as the architecturals – they also need to include the detailed construction plans that show footings, sizes of the frame, and even fastener details. It’s really nitty gritty stuff! Just one other comment on the plans. They also include detailed site plans that show how the home meets the requirements of any planning permit. This will include things like setbacks, tank location, Bushfire attack measurements and any other site specific detail.


So once those two key sets of documents are sorted, then you’re ready for the next step.


And that is to get any and all necessary reports from others. So that includes – but not limited to! – engineering certification, final energy rating reports, home owners warranty insurance, soil test (that’s generally sorted early on), and there can be others from time to time. Once again, we want to stress the importance of having the main documents in order at the start of the permit process, because when you go out asking for these other reports, they need – and rely on – the plans and scope of works.


The third step is to bring it all together. This basically means compiling all of the information that’s been gathered during the process and then lodging it with the relevant authority.


Just one comment on this – you can use the local council to gain the permit, or you can use a private certifier or surveyor. Quite a few years back, the government introduced the additional option of getting a “business person”, so to speak, to certify and approve your home rather than the council. Now, we have to be careful what we say, but we’ve been using the private surveyors for a long time with excellent success. We’ve got nothing against the council, we’re sure they do a great job, but for us it makes sense for business people to deal with business people.


So these days, especially with private surveyors, the permit is lodged online. Literally, you open up a specific webpage, and then spend a couple of hours working through the lodgement process.


Now the first point in this process is the detail of who the builder is. And this is just another point we want to make – only a qualified builder can apply for a building permit. The home owner can’t. The permit lodgement requires details of the builder and their license to be able to accept an application.


And then there are a multitude of documents that need to be uploaded onto the site. And these are not just the documents I was referring to earlier, it includes something like 20 to 30 individual documents. Right from a planning permit – if it was needed – to property reports, sewer maps, Bushfire statements, secondary consent from the council, window schedules and quote, title and title plan, etc. One thing we’ve learnt about building permits, is that they’re a tedious process!


And once it’s lodged, then the building surveyor needs to be paid. The same when lodging with a council, they ask for an application fee to be paid before anything will happen.


Once the fee has been paid, then the application is assessed. And then without fail the surveyor comes back asking for more information. No, we’re only joking, there’s no set protocol for a surveyor to have to ask for more information but it seems that they always find something more they want – they’re always hungry for more.


And then it’s approved and the application is issued and you get to build your home. Yippee!


A couple of other comments we want to make – a building permit is not a yes or no type of permit. In other words, it’s different to a planning permit where it can be refused on grounds that it doesn’t meet the purpose of the zone or overlay. But a building permit is not really “refused” as such. If the details aren’t meeting the code or Australian standards, then the surveyor will just keep asking for changed details or more information, and if you don’t provide it, then the permit will just never be issued – it’s not a formal refusal process.


We’ve had the question put to us many times, how do I know we’re going to get a building permit if I sign the contract and pay the deposit with the builder? The answer is simple – if the builder is registered and qualified then they’ll be meeting the code and a building permit is guaranteed.


Another point is that the building surveyor stays involved right up until after the home is finished. And this is because they handle the relevant inspections at various stages, such as footing inspection, frame inspection, and of course the final inspection. You can’t move into your new home until the surveyor has issued the final permit, which is an occupancy permit – meaning that you can now occupy the home.


So, a bit long-winded, but that’s the inside story of building permits. It might seem a bit overwhelming, but leave it all to your builder and all will be well.


As always, feel free to reach out for more information!


Disclaimer. This blog is our opinion only. The information provided in our blogs is accurate and true to the best of our knowledge, but there may be omissions, errors or mistakes. The information presented in our blogs is for informational purposes only and we are not professionals, so the content we provide shouldn’t be taken as legal advice. We strongly recommend consulting with a professional before taking any sort of action. We reserve the right to change how we manage our blog and we may change the focus or content at any time.

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