Do I Need Local Authority Approval for Outdoor Renovations?

Many developments require some form of local authority approval. But when do I & don’t I need approval & how do I go about it? By working with an established outdoor living specialist, you should be made aware of all of your options to ensure you don’t land yourself in hot water.

The earlier you consider what type of approval you may require, the easier the planning process will be, as you will be able to design your development around the approval requirements.

Below are some frequently asked questions and helpful answers to guide you through the process.

Why do I need building approvals?

Your home renovation must meet basic requirements for health, safety and structural soundness as set out by the Building Code of Australia. Beyond this, the permit process makes sure that your plans are in line with other local government requirements, such as planning regulations, environmental or heritage requirements.

When do I need approval?

Generally, approval is required for renovations that involve changes to the structure or shape of your home. This includes new additions, reconfiguration of internal space by moving or removing walls, new window and door openings or installing structures such as carports and pergolas. Electrical and plumbing approvals may also have to be obtained.

The good news is that some repairs and renovations may not require approval. Most state governments have introduced rules that allow minor internal changes and some minor external changes without needing approval. Some examples include painting, cabinet installation, replacement of existing windows and doors (provided the opening remains the same size). In brief, work that does not entail changes to structures or systems.

Talk with Patioland or check with your local council or private building certifier to be sure. It is also important to find out if you need approval to demolish an existing structure such as a garage, shed or porch, or to cut down a tree on your property.

There are three avenues in relation to the approval process:

1.  Exempt Development

So long as you can tick all of the relevant boxes within the checklist, you are fine to proceed without obtaining any approval – you are exempt from planning approval.

2.  Complying Development

If what you want to build falls outside the exempt development criteria, it may fall into the category of complying development. Complying development is a fast track, 10-day approval process where a building meets all of the predetermined criteria. A complying development certificate can be issued by either your local council or an accredited certifier.

 3.  Development Consent

If your building does not meet the rules of complying development then there is a final planning approval option – a development application. A development application is a planning approval which can only be approved by a local council. A development application needs to be prepared and it will be assessed in accordance with the development standards established by a council.

Once you have an approved development application you need to lodge an application for a construction certificate which provides the construction approval. Building work cannot commence until you have both an approved development application and a construction certificate.

The rules for exempt and complying development are different to those for a development application so you need to make sure you are designing your building in accordance with the relevant rules.

Who should get the approvals – me or my builder?

As the homeowner, you are legally responsible for obtaining any building permits required. However, your builder can look after this on your behalf.

What happens if I don’t get a permit?

If you carry out a renovation project that requires approval without having one, your local authority can issue a ‘stop work’ order, which remains in effect until you obtain a permit. If the work doesn’t meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia and/or the council rules, you may be required to redo the work at your own cost.

In worst case scenarios, you could be forced to remove the addition. This could happen if you building work does not meet council’s codes or is not undertaken by a professional builder. In some cases, councils have the ability to issue ‘on the spot’ fines. In the worst case scenario, you could find yourself in court.

Working without a required permit may also affect an insurance claim arising from the renovation. Before any work begins on your home, check with your insurance representative who can explain exactly what is needed to ensure continuous and adequate coverage, both during and after the renovation.