Once you have purchased your block of land and decided on the type of house you want to build  the next stage is to get your plans drawn up and into council.

This involves the three stages of assessment by council:

  • Development Application (DA)
  • Building Rules Consent
  • Full Planning Approval

Development Application (DA)

If you don’t have a builder you will need the services of an architect or building designer, most but not all can offer the service of drawing up and submitting plans to Council. However, if you do have a builder he will organise the plans for you and point out any anomalies that might occur along the way.

Once the plans are drawn and you are happy with the result they are submitted to council as a Development Application (DA).

This is Stage One and is for Planning Consent.

What this does is give council a look at the type of build you want to put on your block, if it’s a single storey it will go under a Category One, they are much easier to get through council, however if it’s a two storey it will go under a Category Two, with this category councils are concerned with overlooking and overshadowing which you don’t get with a single storey.

With a two storey Council will also send letters to all the neighbours asking for any objections, this can also hold up the process as councils will give these objection back for answer.

All of this information is valuable to council, your plans will give them an indication of how it fits with the existing street scape and the zoning regulations, they are also hot on colours and landscaping, along with open space.

Parking space and off street parking is also important, with most households now having between one and four vehicles councils are trying to get them off the street as parking problems increase along with housing density.

Your builder or architect will deal with the council, remember they are experienced  in these matters and can do it without the emotion.

I have personally dealt with councils many times in the past and my advice is, if you ask them what to do rather than telling them what you are going to do is the best approach, remember they will give you the approval so work with them, if you have done everything by the book and you feel they are being unreasonable there are other options open to everyone where you can contest their decision.

Try to avoid this if you can as it could cost valuable build time and money.

Ok, I am sure you get the picture, back to Planning Consent.

There may be modifications required to the plans you submitted, generally they are minor and once done you can get approval for Planning Consent, don’t get too excited as there is still a long way to go, this doesn’t mean you can start building.

Stage Two Building Rules Consent

This is the big one

Your Builder or Architect will be asked to follow all building codes, your location is very important as there are different codes for different areas, for example, suburban areas come under their own code, hills face, hills fire zone areas and coastal areas have their own codes as well.

Survey Plan

You will need a survey plan, this gives everyone working on your project and exact measurement of the land you propose building on with the actual building site.

Soil report

A soil report, this  gives the engineer an idea of the type of foundation required and if there is rock, if there is it will need to be removed and there will be a cost over and above the cost of the foundations, this will depend on the amount there is. Again talk to your builder or architect about the cost involved.

Contour plan

If the land you want to build on is sloping council will require a contour plan, this will help in the way the block will be cut and design of the foundations.

Engineering, possibly one of the most important pre build items that needs to be done as it forms the structure creating it’s strength and shape.

Water retention is now something councils have been looking at and requesting owners do for quite some time. They don’t like the storm water going down the drain when it can be saved and reused.

Energy efficiency is also a must do by councils and there are professionals that both builders and architects  use to get you energy rating, the higher the rating the better.

One item that has caught many people by surprise is significant trees along with protected trees. Always talk to council as this will vary depending on the individual council, where you are building and the species of tree. If possible get advice from the council’s arborist and the Department of the Environment.

If your project depends on the removal a tree this should be something you make sure can be done prior to purchasing the land.

For Stage Two most people have now started to use a private certifier, they are recognised by council and will get your approval through faster, this is providing you meet all the guidelines.

Stage Three Full Development Application

This is when you receive a full set of stamped plans approving your application, this is called Full Development Application (DA) or Full Planning Approval.

Now you can pop the cork on the Champers, you are ready to start building.

The time the whole process can take from when you submit you first plans to your final approval to build will vary depending on the complexity of the build and it’s location, any changes you make to the plans while they are in council will also hold up the process. Talk to your builder or architect and they should be able to give you a time frame.

Good luck with your new build.