When looking to purchase a new home, not everyone buys 'House and Land'. Sometimes it's better to buy land and build the house of your dreams rather than wait for something you love to become available. Of course, building a new residence in Australia is tricky business. Not only do you have to purchase the land, design your house plans, find a builder, and secure financing for the whole project, but you also have to get local council approval before the project can begin. Even if you have done the rest of the process in record time, it's notoriously difficult to pass, much less rush, a council's decision. If you want to get your project underway sometime in the next year, it's important to know exactly what you're dealing with, prepare meticulously, and work with your council to achieve approval.
Here at Parkwood, we specialise in helping people find the perfect front door for their brand new home, but without getting construction approval from your local council, there will never be a door frame to put your beautiful new door in. So today, we're here to help you get your DA approved as quickly and smoothly as possible. The key to building a perfect Development Application (DA) and seeing it approved in the near future is data completion and a patient attitude. Here are five important tips to help you succeed from filling out forms to actually breaking ground.
1) Know Your Zoning
The property you plan to build on may have limitations on it that you were not aware of when you chose it as your building site. However, it is vitally important that you are prepared to deal with these limitations and work them into your plans long before building your DA to submit to council. Some may come with special building requirements and you may need to completely re-design your project before building any sort of final construction application.
- Bushfire-Prone Areas - Bushfires can occur anywhere there is too much dry vegetation and some areas are particularly prone to small fires. If your home is in a bushfire-prone area, it's important to find a bushfire consultant and make adjustments to minimise the risk of fires starting on your property or putting your home in danger. You may also need to speak with the local fire service.
- Flood-Prone Areas - Just as bushfires are common in some areas, floods are more likely to occur in others. Many council websites have an interactive map that should show you if your home is in an area that is prone to flooding. If it is, you may have to make some design changes to ensure that your home will be safe from the chance of flooding.
- Heritage Conservation Areas - Certain regions and the area around particularly culturally important items will be preserved as heritage conservation areas. If you are, a heritage consultant may be able to help you ensure that your construction doesn't have a negative impact on whatever heritage item or feature the conservation area is there to protect.
- Significant Trees - If there are trees on your land, the council may inform you that some must be retained (not cut down) for your construction. If this is the case you will have to build around them.
2) Have All Your Plans Ready
There are a number of detailed plans of your construction that will need to be prepared by your architect or a draftsman familiar with the project. The council will want to closely examine each one of these and ensure that you are in compliance with all local requirements and regulations. That being said, make sure you're in compliance with the local regulations as fixing any oversights will only extend your approval process.
- Site Plan - The site plan is a scale diagram of how the lot will look from the outside when you're finished. This includes where the home will sit and any other infrastructure you plan to put in. Details may include decks, fences, drains, walls, walkways, driveways, patios, and so on.
- Floor Plan - The floor plan is the one everyone is familiar with. This is a clearly drawn scale diagram of how your home will be laid out on the inside. It will give the size, shape, and arrangement of the rooms, make it clear how many bedrooms and bathrooms there will be and mark the location of all doors and windows.
- Elevations and Sections - This plan shows an illustration of the exterior again, this time focusing on the height and style of your construction. The elevations and sections plan indicates not only the size and shape of the construction but also the materials and overall appearance. Examples include tile vs tin roof, brick vs vinyl siding, the existence of a veranda, etc.
3) Prepare Your Paperwork
In addition to clearly drawn plans, you will require to complete a great deal of paperwork. Each council will have its own unique requirements and you will need to ensure you complete the entire list before considering your application packet complete.
- Owner Consent - In your DA, you'll need to include an owner consent form indicating that the owner of your build site approves of the construction project. If you are the owner, you can complete this form yourself. If you are leasing the land, you will need to get the actual owner's official approval through the signing of an owner consent form.
- Proper Applications - Your council will have an array of specific applications they will expect you to fill out. Gather these ahead of time and make sure you have all the necessary additional documentation they require.
- Environment Effects - There are local, regional, and state building and planning requirements about the environmental footprint and impact your home will have. Make sure to get and complete a Statement of Environmental Effects (SEE) for a complete application.
4) Get To Know Your DAU
Every council has a Developmental Advisory Unit (DAU) or something similar. This is a special group of senior staff members who will be in charge of reviewing and approving your application. Here's the trick: you don't have to submit a DA to start communicating with your council about the construction project. Get to know your DAU and don't be shy about asking questions. These people more than anyone else should be able to clue you in on any special local regulations, regional limitations, and how to get all the right paperwork together. By working with the DAU and making friends, you have a much better chance of both being completely prepared and having a few allies who will want to help you obtain approval.
5) Hire Professional Help
If there is any part of the application building process that you don't understand or need a professional consultant to assist with, don't hesitate to shop around and hire the right experts. Getting this information and their helpful reports early on is much better than being surprised later on. If the council suggests you seek some specific professional advice, do so. The council may have some insight into regional hazards that you do not.
Getting council approval is notoriously difficult, but it doesn't have to be impossible. Whether you're building a trendy new split-level with a sleek aluminium door or a classic traditional home with a heritage door for your historic neighbourhood, being prepared is the best way to get your council's approval in a reasonable amount of time. When your plan is approved and you're ready to hang a beautiful new front door, come to Parkwood and we'll help you find the perfect door to welcome your family and guests to the experience of your beautiful new home.