Your First Renovation: Getting A Building Permit

The excitement of your first ever home is a hard feeling to replicate. You have spent so many years saving, lost so much sleep, completed a canyon of paperwork and finally you have a patch of soil to call your very own. No more wasted money going into the landlord’s pocket through renting. All that hard work should surely entitle you to do whatever you please with your new digs. Unfortunately not. Any sizable infrastructure that you add to your dwelling willneed to first pass an application process at the local council’s jurisdiction and they are well within their right to terminate an application as they see fit. The rules and regulation by which each governing body assesses an application changes from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. What is a building permit exactly and what is the best way of ensuring your permit gets the A-OK from your local council?

The Permit

It may seem unbelievably annoying to you when you feel bogged down in all that red tape and all you want is to improve your own property for you and your family.However a building permit is ultimately designed to ensure the safety of the infrastructure’s occupants. Several recent natural disasters have highlighted the need for stricter building codes and permits. The issuing of permits ensures that all built structures adhere to a particular standard and minimise the potential harm caused in the event of a natural disaster or through its inhabitation and use by people. The standards required to secure a building permit vary greatly between each council and failure to receive one before construction commences can result in sizable fines.

The permit is not designed to limit your artistic and creative vision but rather regulate the professionals you have hired to perform your construction work. Every contractor must adhere to a certain set of guidelines as mandated by the issue of the permit. Furthermore, a building permit will ensure you will receive your insurance payout in the event of misadventure; compensation will generally not be awarded when the infrastructure involved was not prior approved via a permit. Above all, renovations conducted without a permit can seriously devalue the overall value of your property. As permits are publicly listed, a potential buyer can quickly determine if all the renovations were conducted openly and legally.

Securing Your Permit

Permits can be secured either professionally via your building contractor or via your own submission. It is highly recommended that if you have hired a professional to undertake your professional work, you should also allow them to complete the process of securing the initial permit. They will be much better versed in the system and may even already have a good working relationship with your local council. If, however, you are conducting your own renovations, you will need to submit your own application. The first step is to ensure that anyone helping you is covered by some form of insurance in the event of injury and you will need to provide evidence of this to the council. Then you will need to submit in absolute detail what you plan to achieve in the renovation. The mode of delivery will depend entirely upon the scope and complexity of your project. Larger, structural projects may call for professionally produced architectural drawings. The more information you can supply with your application, the greater confidence your local council will have in both your project and in you completing the project to a satisfactory standard. Planning is key! Also allow yourself sufficient time for your permit to be approved. Applications submitted in the lead up to summer will naturally take much longer than usual to process due to the volume of other submissions as people plan out their DIY projects for the summer. Processing time can take between a day and three weeks. The costs of the permit itself will also vary greatly depending on the size, complexity and the council to which you are applying. Permits can range from $40 to well over $500 so ensure you factor this into the overall budget of your project.