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Do you need council approval for your renovation?

Do you need council approval for your renovation?

Council approval is a major grey area for Australian home renovators and it can be one of the areas that causes major problems down the track. Council Approval means that a homeowner has permission to make planned adjustments to a property. They require is in some instances to ensure that the property is safe, secure and structurally sound. The problem for home owners comes down to knowing when you need approval and when you don’t.

Each local council has slightly differing rules about what requires council approval or a Development Application (DA) and what doesn’t. Some examples of home improvements that don’t usually require council approval include:

  • Advertising and signage installation on the property
  • Aerials and antennae
  • Balconies, decks, patios or pergolas
  • Carports
  • Rainwater tanks
  • Shade Structures
  • Fences
  • Retaining Walls

However, just because you don’t need a specific application approved doesn’t mean you have free reign. You will still be legally required to adhere to your state government or local council rules and any renovations must comply with the Building Code of Australia.

So why should home owners and renovators care about adhering to council regulations?  

Because while it doesn’t seem like any major issue in the short term, if you want to sell your home, you need to ensure it is structurally sound and legally compliant before taking it to the market. In some instances, you can put a property on the market that doesn’t meet legal requirements however, you will need to expect a big price reduction and far smaller sale proceeds.

This makes is short term pain, long term gain situation. But the good news is it really isn’t too much of a hassle. To start with, if you’re working with sub-contractors like builders or architects, they will usually take responsibility for this – just make sure you communicate this expectation to start with! Plus, if it’s a small project, some councils will have a fast track application process. Examples of renovations that may be eligible for this include:

  • Domestic projects that do not exceed 20 square meters in size
  • Some enclosed ground floor additions that do not exceed 15% of the total structure size
  • If a free-standing structure is not positioned between a public road or within 90 centimeters of a neighbouring property.

So while you still require the approval, it should be a fast and smooth process.


Our advice to renovators?

If you’re working with professionals, consult them on whether a DA may be required and follow their advice. If you’re doing it yourself, then it’s better to be safe than sorry. Phone your local council office, ask to speak to someone in development and planning and they’ll be able to give you the advice you need.

Happy renovating! 

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