The Role of the Building Surveyor for custom homes11/12/2022
Clients often confuse these two documents. We need a building permit for almost all construction activities, and in most cases people use private building surveyors to issue a building permit for their custom homes (we can also engage a council building surveyor, but they tend to be less responsive). A building permit is usually issued within weeks (assuming that all the requested documentation is provided to the building surveyor). It has become a more common practice by private building surveyors to ask the custom home builder/client to provide a written statement from the council that a planning permit isn’t needed before they issue a building permit for a custom home. This is mainly due to the complexity of the language associated with descriptions in town planning overlays which make clear interpretations very difficult, even for surveyors otherwise skilled with planning jargon.
A planning permit, however, can be only issued by a council panning department. There is no specific rule as to when a planning permit is needed for a custom home; it all depends on what overlays are applicable on your land. It may be related to removal of vegetation, site coverage, subdivision to smaller lots or countless other situations. Planning permits can take few months to a few years for more complex custom designed projects. For simple custom built projects there are so-called Vic Smart applications which should be resolved within fourteen days. In most cases it’s double this time, but still faster than the standard process. You should try to avoid a planning permit if possible, see the case study below.
We were engaged to build a living room extension with a small deck in the Yarra Range Council area. Our surveyor asked for council confirmation that a planning permit wasn’t needed, and the council replied that in the Yarra Ranges Council area a planning permit was needed for decking on any site with a slope of more than twenty degrees. So that was our trigger for getting a planning permit. To avoid the lengthy planning-permit process, we substituted decking with concrete paving.