Read on below...
Maybe you just bought your dream home, only to find out the downstairs area was never approved! Or maybe you put that carport on the side of your house years ago, only to get a letter from council saying you need to get it approved, or pull it down! This can be an overwhelming experience, especially if you don't know where to start. But never fear! In this blog post, we'll walk you through how to jump through all the right 'hoops' to get it approved.
The processes we will be talking about below are specifically aimed at Brisbane and Queensland based home owners. However the steps are mostly the same, wherever you are. Check with your local council.
Step 1: Get a knowledgeable person to have a look at it...
You may think that it looks like it would stand up to a cyclone, and that it's not overhanging the boundary so it should meet all regulations. Unfortunately, this isn't the way council sees things. No one expects you to know the building codes inside and out as a home owner. That's why it is important to have a knowledgeable person to come out and have a look. Someone that can look at it and tell you what regulations it does or does not meet.
Why is this a key step? Well, the facts are, a lot of unapproved building work can be prohibitively expensive to bring up to regulations outlined in the National Construction Code (NCC), the Timber Framing Code (AS1684), and your local council's requirements.
By having someone there to walk around it with you, they will be able to give you a good idea of your options. This also will help you consider the possible costs that you might be looking at to bring it up to meet the current building regulations. This is something that we can help you with! Get in touch to arrange a site visit from us. Others that may be able to help could be a builder, engineer or a private certifier.
Decided that you want to go down the road of getting it approved? In Step 2, we will move on to the 'hoops' of getting it approved. We will also discuss the following consultants you will need:
- Building Designer
- Private Certifier
Just a note that this really is a bit of a specialised field, as only a handful of consultants will touch unapproved building works.
Step 2: Have a Building Designer draw up your plans
The first action to take in the commencing the process of getting you building work approved is to have a Building Designer (such as QDH) develop a full set of building design plans outlining the existing building before the work was done, as well as the proposed final plans (plans showing how the building works need to be in order to get your building approval). These will be submitted, (along with the engineering drawings), to your private certifier to get the final nod of approval.
Step 3: Have an Engineer develop any engineering plans required
The second consultant to engage is a Structural Engineer. You will give the building design plans to him so that he can develop his drawings and conduct any necessary site inspections to examine the existing footings, slab or structural members, connections & tie-down details.
He will most likely issue some plans along with his approval of the structural adequacy of the structure, or he will outline the changes that need to be made for the structure to be made structurally adequate for approval. See our 'Friends of QDH' page for some great consultants we work with here in Brisbane.
Step 4: Submit all of this to a Private Certifier
So you've got all your plans, now what? You will then have to submit all of these to a Private Certifier. At the end of the day, the Private Certifier is the one that signs off on your building approval, and issues your final approval, so be nice to him (or her)!
With an undertaking such as this, it is good for the Private Certifier to be involved from the start. They are the final authority on getting your work approved, so the more involved they are from the start, the better the chance we have of dotting all our structural 'i's', and crossing all our regulatory 't's'.
Step 5: Enjoy peace of mind...
By getting all unapproved building work approved, you will be able to rest easy knowing that you and your family are safe, no one will ask you to pull down parts of your house, your insurances will cover you in the event of a disaster, and when you come to sell your house, you will probably get more $ for it than you would have otherwise! That's a pretty good incentive if nothing else.
For more information or to ask a question specific to your project, feel free to flick us an email.