This page is to assist new and existing clients in understanding some of the complex hurdles in building there homes. Please feel free to keep coming back to this page to understand your obligations and learn how to avoid delays and costs.
*** ISC provides the information below in good faith to assist in the general construction of a new dwelling. It does not in any way or shape imply or infer any design intent, or council approval. Its accuracy is based on information at hand, and does not constitute what a local council or PCA may invoke.
1. Check if your property falls to the street.
The most common hurdle that many clients face is understanding that its their responsibility to ensure that their property has access to services. For example we all take for granted that every property has access to electricity, sewer , telephone etc. If it didn't you'd be sure to know about it from the selling agent or solicitor. Funny enough most people take for granted the service of draining your stormwater from a property, that every property must be able to cope with stormwater when it rains. In actual fact a lot of properties have difficulties in draining their stormwater in a safe manner.
If your property has a natural fall to the street, which mean your on the high side of the road and water flows down the driveway to the street when it rains, then your drainage system is actually the council road way. Well what happens when your property falls to the rear fence or your side fence??? Well that's were a lot of clients fall in the trap of not checking first with their local council or engineer to see what options are allowed and what hurdles you have to cross.
Lets take one step back. If you were looking at buying a property that didn't have access to a sewer line, you naturally know that your going to have to dedicate a portion of your land to handle the waste. Or if you don't have access to town water, your going to need a large rainwater tank that will take a large portion of your land. Well similarly with stormwater. If you can't drain your property to a public system like a road or creek directly, without going through someone's property then be prepared to sacrifice a portion of your land. How much you ask? Well that varies significantly between councils. From limiting how much hard surface you can build (30%) to requiring larger raintanks or absorption systems.
So take caution when your looking at that beautiful property with a rear deck with beautiful views of the district. You might not be able to knock it down and get that home you wanted because the property might not have a drainage easement or a big enough backyard in some council areas.
2. How to avoid getting surprised with hidden cost.
Ask and research! Never assume! If your not sure engage the services of a professional. The builders on our website all have access to the professional services of ISC and other professional like surveyors and structural engineers.
Some of our clients tell us, "but the agent never told me". The agent is at no liberty to research or help you know what can and can't be done on a property. You might see the letters STCA on an advertisement. This stands for Subject to Council Approval. It releases the agent from liability of suggesting that the site can be developed as they might have suggested. Similarly with your builder, they can't always make your property be on the high side of the street or make your rear neighbour give you an easement. It is YOUR responsibility to do the legwork before purchasing a property and wasting time and money in planning a home that your local council won't approve.
If your property falls to the rear or side click on Low Level Properties up on the left of this screen to read more and understand what you can do now to save time, rather than assuming that your builder will handle it.
If you've been told you need On Site Detention by your agent, solicitor, or builder click on On Site Detention up on the left of this screen, to see what impact it can have on your landscaping and house design.
3. How long does it all take?
The planning stage before submission to your local council can take between 6 - 12 weeks on average depending on the builder you choose. The council is obliged to assess an application within 8 weeks but that can stretch out due to concessions you might be looking for, or your neighbours making objections to your home design. To avoid simple delays, always ask whether the home you want required concessions or whether it may impact your neighbours. If there is any doubt that it might, its always best to consult with your neighbours before submission to council so that they don't get surprised with the letter in the mail. Construction on average is between 6 - 9 months depending of weather and holidays. Assume an extra 1-2 months if your construction goes through Christmas.
The biggest delays actually occur due to changes being requested by owners during the design stage. Plan ahead and write down all the changes to a home design you want, because the later you decide to extend that room, move a window, change the kitchen or change the roof line the longer it will take the builders to re-co-ordinate all the consultants drawings. It might be the smallest change like 10cm to a room. If it's requested after all the consultants have finished their drawings, you could be waiting an extra 2 weeks and be charged to have them all amended and re-issued. Do that a few times and you can see that it can cost you a few months.
The planning policy referred to as Complying Development Code (CDC) or the New Planning Code, is quoted as being an approval in 10 days. Don't be misled by this. The days are calculated from when all your documents are completed submitted to the Private Certifying Authority (PCA) and that they all comply. The actual preparation of documentation is actually taking longer than a normal application to council, as the documentation required cannot be missing any details as the approval will be unconditional. All searches and details that would usually be checked by council during their assessment now has to be undertaken prior to submission. For sites that fall to the street and aren't complex its the way to go as you will save 4-6 weeks. If your site falls to the rear and go down the path of a CDC, be aware that your highly recommended to obtain a drainage easement where applicable, or you could end up with unhappy neighbours who just might question your approval and find out that you were required by council to approach them for that easement.
4. The final stages.
Moving in... most people aren't aware that legislation gradually changed during the last decade, requiring that home owners having to complete a lot more of their home before they can move in. Now, you may need to complete your driveway, landscaping and other items like light fittings, curtains, floor covering, steps and landings, and of course all your stormwater.... Make sure you read the list given to you by your PCA (Private Certifying Authority) which lists the items that must be completed for a interim or a final occupation certificate. If your builder isn't completing your stormwater, then you'll be engaging plumbers, builders and landscaper to complete it, which could take 2-6 months to complete. Make sure you factor that when you decide to save the builders margin, as you could be paying it in rent, because your PCA might not let you move in until its completed, even if you've payed your builder and paying a large mortgage.
Plan ahead. Stormwater and landscaping in many instances has to be certified by the original consultants, which could take an extra 2-4 weeks once the work is completed, if you engage them after. Try and engage the consultants while the work is underway so paperwork doesn't delay your certification. It is the owners responsibility to ensure that all conditions of the consent have been completed satisfactorily, in order to obtain final occupation certificate from the PCA. The consent is your Development approval (15-20 page document) from council or your approved documentation for a CDC.
A simple rule to keep in mind is consultants will generally not provide certification of works that they do not see or supervise. For example if your PCA needs a certificate to certify that a pipe was laid and buried correctly, then only the licensed plumber or an engineer who inspected it prior it being covered can do so. Always check with your PCA what certifications are required and by whom before works commence so you engage those people upfront and know their costs.