Getting a house built isn’t easy – the design is only one part. Before you can start digging holes, or even clearing an area to begin to dig holes, there are numerous applications that need to be made and approvals granted. This is a summary of the process I undertook before construction even began on 60k House.
In the beginning
During the preliminary stages I had a chat with a planner about the site, orgainsed a site survey and got a Bushfire Hazard Assessment done. This was followed by lots and lots of sketches before being ready to lodge a Development Application.
I talked about what I was allowed to build on my block under the planning scheme in ‘Site Planning’. A Development Application, or DA (also known as Town Planning or Planning Application) is processed by the local Council (or Shire) that you propose to build in and assesses the proposal against the planning scheme. It is advisable to see a planner for a pre-lodgment discussion before you submit any application: this service is free and can save you a lot of hassle and money by ironing out any major problems at an early stage.
Once you know what you want to build and where you want to build it, you will need to provide some basic drawings that describe the proposed development. As with all of the approvals talked about here you will need to fill in an application form and pay an assessment fee. The set of DA drawings will typically only contain basic information: the location of the development (relative to the site boundaries); the use (some uses are only permitted in certain zones); the size and height; materials (and sometimes colours); and the window locations (to ensure no peeping Tom’s looking into the neighbour’s backyard.
It is advisable to have your design figured out before you apply for a DA, although the design can change slightly after approval has been granted: this was the case with 60k House.
Depending on the proposal the development may need to be advertised – this is to give the public an opportunity to comment on the proposal. Advertising is on the Council’s website, a notice placed in the newspaper, and a bright yellow sign at your gate.
The introduction of a statewide planning scheme for Tasmania is meant to reduce ‘red and green tape’ in order to make the planning, and development process, more streamlined.
Most planning permits have a condition that the development must be ‘substantially commenced’ within two years or the planning permit will lapse.
A condition of my planning permit was the need to pay an offset of $350 per tree for two large trees of conservation significance. The fee was paid into Council’s Tree Preservation Fund to be used to manage and conserve the habitat of the swift parrot in the vicinity of Gordon. The remaining trees on my site are a haven for crows harvesting the apples from the orchard next door.
All Aboriginal heritage is protected under the Aboriginal Relics Act 1975. If we were to discover or suspect any Aboriginal heritage, we were to cease works immediately and contact Aboriginal Heritage Tasmania for advice. All we found was a dump of glass bottles and concluded these weren’t thousands of years old.
Once you have your DA you’re set to proceed to the next stage. This usually involves developing the design and receiving input from various consultants: structural engineer, hydraulic engineer, thermal performance assessor, etc (see the previous post ‘Consultants’). The Building Surveyor can assess the drawings and issue a Certificate of Likely Compliance – indicating that the design will likely comply with all of the relevant codes and requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Even though I wasn’t within cooee of reticulated services (sewer and town water) I still had to apply for an exemption from the authority managing water in Tasmania – creatively named: Taswater. Thankfully this application and exemption was free! If you are going to connect to town sewer and/or town water you will need to make an application and pay a fee.
There was however a Special Plumbing fee payable to the Council) because I was installing a septic tank for onsite waste water disposal and not connecting to town sewer.
Building & Plumbing Application
Once you have all of the certified drawings and certificates it’s time to head back to Council to apply for Building & Plumbing approval. There is more paper work, and another fee.
The Building & Plumbing fee consisted of:
Administration fee – $175
Plumbing Assessment fee – $133
Plumbing Inspection fee – $496 incl. GST (this covers a couple of routine plumbing inspections)
Indemnity Deposit (no kerb & gutter) – $250 (in case I damage the lack of existing kerb and gutter)
Certificate of Completion (plumbing) – $47
Building Permit levy – $75 (a percentage of the estimated construction price)
Industry Training levy – $149 (a percentage of the estimated construction price)
TOTAL – $1325
Interestingly only the plumbing inspection fee attracted GST – none of the other items are classified as goods or services…
Cutting it tight
The Building Permit was issued on June 1, 2015. Construction work had to commence within 12 months of the permit being issued: construction commenced less than 12 days after the permit was issued! I had been sweating on receiving the building permit in time after a couple of minor delays so was thankful when it finally come through. This included a delay because I had forgotten to apply for the Taswater exemption – with the site being located over 50,000m away from the nearest Taswater infrastructure the thought hadn’t even crossed my mind!
I had to have the slab poured within 3 weeks to satisfy the deadline for the First Home Builders Grant – something I sneaked in with only a few days to spare.
All up I spent $7,181 on consultants and approvals combined – before building work had even begun! This figure is somewhat lower than usual thanks to some industry connections.
Costs: Development Application – $626; Tree Preservation – $700; Taswater – $0; Building & Plumbing Application– $1325; Special Plumbing Fee – $273
Disclaimer: Any advice contained within this blog is of a general nature only and cannot be relied upon. Details provided are in good faith and relate specifically to this project. Any author will not be held responsible for advice or information presented.