Thanks to reality television, people can be forgiven for thinking home renovation is a simple, quick and painless process. But the reality of home renovation can be hard work, sweat and tears and sometimes a long process. As exciting as the prospect of renovation can be, your experience and end result can be greatly enhanced by planning ahead, seeking professional advice and knowing potential problems before they surface.
When proposing to build any structure or make alterations to any structure including internal renovations, it is recommended that advice be sought as to whether or not a building application will be required. While there are some exceptions, it is important to obtain the right advice before you commence any work to protect your investment. This advice is best provided by Council's building certification section, plumbing inspectors and technical advice team.
It is always a good idea to contact Council first to discuss requirements specific to your property. Generally, the following steps will then need to be undertaken:
- Get free advice from the heritage advisor (if in a heritage area). Refer to the 'Heritage and neighbourhood character' section (see 'Related information' below) of the website for more information.
- Secure the services of a builder, building designer or architect to design and draw your plans.
- Check plumbing, siting and Planning scheme requirements as additional approvals may be required, refer to our 'Key facts about your property' (see 'Related information' below) article for further information.
- Engage the services of a licensed builder to construct the work as well as a licensed plumber if necessary.
- From this point the builder can handle the appointment of other professionals to complete the design, certification and construction work leaving you to take no further active part in the process, or depending on the size and nature of the work, secure the services of a geotechnical engineer to perform a soil test and design your footings and slab.
- Depending on the size and nature of the work, secure the services of a structural engineer to design and certify structural components
- At this stage you can then engage a building certifier/private certifier and lodge the application to certify the work and make inspections during construction or you can lodge the application directly with Council and complete the following steps:
- Refer to and follow the checklist instructions
- Provide the checklist and site plan for council to check when you lodge the application
- Pay relevant fee/s
- Ensure that any plumbing and drainage alterations are completed by a licensed plumber with appropriate plumbing permits approved by Council. Note that inspections are to be completed by council plumbing inspectors.
Whether partially or fully enclosing a covered area, verandah or deck, a building approval is required. A partially enclosed covered area, verandah or deck will be considered to be a non-habitable room and there are less stringent requirements for the building work. A fully enclosed covered area, verandah or deck will be considered a habitable room and there are increased requirements for the building work.
Issues that may need to be considered (but are not limited to):
- Light and ventilation to rooms adjoining the covered area, verandah or deck
- Ceiling height (habitable rooms require a minimum of 2.4 metres to the ceiling)
- Energy efficiency (building fabric, lighting, glazing etc)
- Termite barriers (physical or chemical)
- Structural adequacy for the covered area, verandah or deck proposed to be enclosed
- Adequacy of the existing footing/slab for habitable purposes
- Damp-proofing (vapour barrier) for covered area (dependant on the existing method of construction of the verandah slab).
Before you enclose a covered area, verandah or deck, you should seek advice specific to your situation from Council's building certifiers
An ensuite or bathroom may require a plumbing approval if moving or adding water fixtures. Please contact Council's duty plumbing inspector or technical advice team before undertaking plumbing works to ascertain whether you will require a plumbing approval or are to lodge a required form for notifiable works.
Australian Government's Renovator's Guide. This online guide covers all the major issues relating to renovation; totally independent of commercial interests - and without the commercials you get with television. The topics covered include:
- Getting started
- Assessing your home
- Finding your information
- Working with your designer
- Bathrooms and laundries
- Living areas, kitchens
- Designing your garden
- Working with your builder
- Building products
- Interior products
- Appliances and lighting
- Heating, cooling and PV (photovoltaics)
- Rainwater and wastewater
- Living in your new home
- Briefing templates