Navigating the regulatory requirements for building a new home can be a complex process, with a variety of state and local government bodies all requiring approvals before construction can commence.
Most council building regulations are easy to understand, and with the risks of failing to get council approval before construction far outweighing the benefits, most new home builders are happy to help homeowners understand the process before commencing projects.
However, some council building requirements are little known to the general public, and many new homeowners do not realise their properties fall foul of the law. Read on for three common features of new homes that many homeowners don't know require approval.
1. Pool Fences
Nearly one in five homes have swimming pools installed in some parts of Australia, and with the country's summers getting hotter and longer, it's no surprise that the proportion of new homes that feature a swimming pool as part of their design is increasing.
State legislation imposes strict requirements on pool fencing to ensure children cannot enter pool areas without supervision, and most councils require approval before construction commences to ensure fences comply with the regulations.
Failing to get council approval before building a pool fence can land you with a fine of up to $20,000, so it is in your best interest to check whether your council requires a building permit before having a fence installed.
2. Nature-Strip Landscaping
Many new homeowners decide to get their nature strip landscaped as part of the building process to improve their home's aesthetic value. However, despite your nature strip's close proximity to the front door of your house, the strip is council land, so having it landscaped without permission can land you in deep trouble.
Many councils take a hands-off approach to their nature strips and leave maintenance entirely up to local residents. However, some impose strict guidelines on what can be planted. Melbourne's Hume City Council, for example, requires council approval for any kind of nature-strip landscaping and even specifies restrictions on the height and type of flora that can be planted.
3. Satellite Dishes and Antennae
Nearly 99% of all Australian households own a working television, and the home-building process provides an excellent opportunity to have the requisite satellite dishes or antennae installed. However, many councils require approval before these fixtures can be installed despite the courts lashing these provisions as examples of over-regulation. This provision is not well known, and as a result, many Australian families are living in homes that are non-compliant.
Not all councils require approval. For example, Brisbane City Council only requires a permit to install satellite dishes more than 1.2 metres in diameter. However, as the fines for installing unapproved dishes and antennae can be hefty, it pays to check with your local authorities before commencing construction.
Running the gauntlet of permits and approvals required for building a new home can be a confusing experience, but failing to adhere to council-building regulations can have serious consequences for your house and your wallet. If you are considering nature-strip landscaping or installing a pool fence, satellite dish or antenna as part of your home construction, check with your local council to find out the requirements that apply in your area, or ask your builder for advice.