Real es­tate renos

Con­sult an ex­pert to min­imise the risk that your plan­ning or build­ing per­mit is knocked back

Money Magazine Australia - - CONTENTS - STORY JEREMY STRETEN

Your dreams are shat­tered. You wanted to build a new house and the lo­cal coun­cil has re­jected your ap­pli­ca­tion or, worse, im­posed con­di­tions that make it im­prac­ti­cal for you to do what you want. What now?

In Aus­tralia the laws gov­ern­ing plan­ning and build­ing per­mits are dif­fer­ent de­pend­ing on your state and lo­cal gov­ern­ment area. When you are knocked back for ei­ther a plan­ning or build­ing per­mit, it is a de­ci­sion of the lo­cal coun­cil which can be ap­pealed or re­viewed.

How do you do that?

In the case of a new house or build­ing you are of­ten re­quired to ob­tain both a plan­ning and a build­ing per­mit. If you are ren­o­vat­ing your ex­ist­ing house then the type of per­mit needed will de­pend on the type of work that you are do­ing. Gen­er­ally, ren­o­va­tion of an ex­ist­ing bath­room or kitchen does not re­quire ei­ther. If you are chang­ing the struc­ture or the roof, adding a bath­room or adding new struc­tures to the build­ing then you will gen­er­ally re­quire both a plan­ning and a build­ing per­mit. Th­ese per­mits are dif­fer­ent and many peo­ple do not re­alise that they need to ob­tain both for many works.

Why was it re­jected?

You should know the risks that your ap­pli­ca­tion may be re­jected be­fore you lodge it for ei­ther type of per­mit. When you make the ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion for ei­ther per­mit you should en­gage a qual­i­fied town plan­ner ex­pe­ri­enced in your lo­cal area. You don’t know what you don’t know, so you need to get ad­vice from a pro­fes­sional who does know.

You need to find out why the de­ci­sion was made. Most coun­cils have on­line por­tals where you can ac­cess all in­for­ma­tion sub­mit­ted about your ap­pli­ca­tion. Rea­sons can in­clude:

• The new build­ing or ren­o­va­tion did not com­ply with the lo­cal coun­cil rules.

• A neigh­bour had a valid ob­jec­tion to the works you pro­posed.

• There may be cer­tain ex­tra con­di­tions ap­ply­ing to your prop­erty. For in­stance, many in­ner-city sub­urbs have small lot codes or lo­cal neigh­bour­hood plans that may af­fect what you can or can­not do on the prop­erty.

Once you know why your ap­pli­ca­tion was re­jected, you can get ad­vice on what you do next.

What are your rights?

While the de­ci­sion to re­ject ei­ther per­mit or im­pose con­di­tions is made by the lo­cal coun­cil, all states pro­vide mech­a­nisms that al­low you to ap­peal or re­view that de­ci­sion. Each state has a dif­fer­ent process. At the end of the process a court has the abil­ity to sub­sti­tute a new de­ci­sion or im­pose dif­fer­ent con­di­tions. Im­por­tantly, the court that is hear­ing the ap­peal can ei­ther start afresh and re­con­sider the en­tire ap­pli­ca­tion or con­sider dif­fer­ent as­pects of the de­ci­sion it­self.

Gen­er­ally, the ap­peal or re­view sets out the specifics of the process which vary as fol­lows: •

The for­mat and tim­ing for lodg­ing the ap­peal – strict lim­its ap­ply to the time frame for lodg­ing an ap­peal. •

The steps that need to hap­pen be­fore any hear­ing takes place to me­di­ate and at­tempt to re­solve the dis­pute with an al­ter­na­tive res­o­lu­tion. •

The ac­tual con­duct of the ap­peal hear­ing be­fore the court – there are dif­fer­ent rules of pro­ce­dure and ways to put ev­i­dence to each court that must be strictly fol­lowed.

You can pro­ceed with this type of ap­peal on your own but it is rec­om­mended that you en­gage a lawyer who spe­cialises in this area. They will save you time and money, en­sur­ing that the whole process is han­dled prop­erly and pro­fes­sion­ally.

Do you pro­ceed any­way?

You may be tempted to just do the work any­way with­out ei­ther or one of the per­mits. This is not a good idea. You can­not con­sider just go­ing ahead and ask­ing for for­give­ness later. Coun­cils and lo­cal au­thor­i­ties have strict rules that are de­signed to en­sure that any works you do are safe, healthy, struc­turally sta­ble and in line with the lo­cal area. If you do not fol­low th­ese rules then your lo­cal author­ity has a broad range of pow­ers to pun­ish you. Th­ese can vary from: •

A fine for not hav­ing the right per­mit. The amount will de­pend on the works, your knowl­edge that what you were do­ing was wrong and the ex­tent of rec­ti­fi­ca­tion works re­quired. Usu­ally you will also be re­quired to ob­tain a per­mit for the works that were done. •

In ex­treme cases the lo­cal author­ity can also re­quire you to pull down the works. If they are com­pletely against the coun­cil rules or are dan­ger­ous, then this can be the out­come.

The con­se­quences of just pro­ceed­ing any­way ac­tu­ally go fur­ther. Many peo­ple think that they will be able to do the work and no one will ever find out. That may be true in the short term but it could cause you prob­lems when you sell your house in the fu­ture. A buyer will of­ten re­quire pa­per­work show­ing that the work that has been done to the prop­erty is prop­erly ap­proved and cer­ti­fied.

The buyer should un­der­take searches of the lo­cal author­ity records to de­ter­mine what ap­provals are recorded. And you can find past im­ages of houses through a sim­ple in­ter­net search, so it is easy to dis­cover works that have not been ap­proved. De­pend­ing on the terms of the con­tract with the buyer, you may be re­quired to have the works ap­proved or the buyer may be able to get out of the con­tract com­pletely.

If you are knocked back for ei­ther a plan­ning or build­ing per­mit, you have rights that you can utilise to ap­peal or re­view that de­ci­sion. You need to get ad­vice from pro­fes­sion­als who do this ev­ery day and un­der­stand the rules as they ap­ply to your prop­erty or house. Get­ting the right ad­vice is im­por­tant and mak­ing sure that you com­ply with the re­quire­ments of the lo­cal author­ity will min­imise your risk of be­ing knocked back.

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