Understanding Building Approvals In Brisbane
When you are looking to purchase a home, being aware of illegal or unapproved building additions or modifications to your potential property is essential. Having the right building approvals in place for a Brisbane property is a must; without them, you could find yourself shelling out for expensive renovations you had no idea you needed.
To the untrained eye, it is hard to tell whether a verandah, a pergola or even the granny flat in the garden was built to appropriate standards. It’s harder still to ascertain whether any extensions were completed with the approved electrical and plumbing work. Calling upon the experts is essential to ensure your new dream home doesn’t become a nightmare.
Why an unapproved building renovation is a concern
There are a few key elements to a building renovation that a potential new homeowner needs to be aware of to avoid legal pitfalls.
You take on the problem
Buying a property and finding out after the fact that the renovation was not council approved or even built according to the appropriate rules and regulations means it becomes your problem. You, as the new homeowner, will become accountable for the costs to address the concern. This could be a hefty sum depending on the renovation itself, the degree to which it was built outside of the regulations and the age of the property.
Whilst it is a rarity, extensions performed by those without the required skills and approvals could very well be built to lower standards and therefore rife with danger. The proper support mechanisms could be missing from new structures, poor wiring could be a safety hazard and a plumbing oversight could be a slow disaster inside a wall cavity waiting to happen. Depending on the problem, some of these issues may be very difficult and expensive to fix.
Whilst an extension could look and seem structurally sound, without a building approval the local council could request, if not order, a demolition of all unapproved extensions. Imagine the heartache finding out after you purchase a property that part of it needs to be pulled down, immediately!
How to check if an existing renovation has a building approval
There are many ways in which you can check whether a property you have your eye on has undergone a renovation and whether the appropriate building approvals have been granted. Checking for previous applications prior to purchasing will save you a lot of time and potentially a lot of money. So where do you start?
Check the council’s online planning system
Brisbane City Council offers you the opportunity to conduct an online search via their planning system. PDOnline is an application enquiry search tool that contains detailed information dating back to 1 January 2004. Not only is this tool readily available, it is also a free service. Depending on the information you are seeking, if there is a need to research a renovation or extension prior to this date and retrieve historical records, including decisions granted, it is advisable to call the Council directly on 07 3403 8888.
Organise a building inspection
Did you know that a professional building inspector independent to the purchase of the property could not only conduct an inspection on the home from a safety perspective but also identify any illegal additions that may have been made?
A pre-purchase inspection is not only to ensure the property is structurally sound and free of pests, it is also going to identify a potential lack of building approvals.
If an inspection identifies that the home in question has been renovated or it is clear that there have been extensions made to the property, liaising with the local council can begin on your behalf to ascertain whether the appropriate planning or building permits were obtained at the time. Working with an experienced team of inspectors from Action Property Inspections in Brisbane will give you peace of mind that the home is all above board, and that it is not of substandard quality.
It is important to be aware that unauthorised DIY renovations can take many forms. There could be breaches of the placement of electrical points, for example. A regular carport may seem to fit right into the look and feel of the existing home, but it may have been added on without development approval. Even smaller additions to a home, such as an aerial, which normally do not require any approvals, may do so if they do not fit within the latest regulations.
Don’t take a risk on your property investment
Purchasing a dream home only to find out after the fact that you have also acquired a whole set of unexpected problems is going to be heartbreaking and potentially very expensive. There could be fines to be paid or, worse still, parts of the property may need to be taken down and re-built. Penalties are certainly not something you want to inherit when you sign on the dotted line.
If retrospective planning approval is needed, consultation with Brisbane City Council is a must. You can either do this yourself or have Action Property Inspections assist with the coordination on your behalf. Keep in mind that this make take some time, so be sure you’re not trying to rush renovations. The key is to consult with an experienced building professional and make sure your pre-purchase building inspection is organised – prevention is much better than cure! A quality early inspection will bring to light any defects with the home and showcase add-ons that are potentially not up to scratch.
If you are looking at a property and need some advice on a building approval in Brisbane call Action Property Inspections. Their advice is independent and extremely thorough. Each inspection will be completed with a detailed report given to you identifying anything noticed and specifics on the severity of the problems and potential outlays to address the problems. This advice in itself is priceless!