How to Get Council Development Application (DA) Approval Process

How To Get Your Building Approval From Council

Australia is widely known as a highly regulated country. The housing industry isn’t much different. Before you can begin laying the foundation of your home, you’ll first need to get approval from the council. Unfortunately, this process can be quite complicated, especially if your design does not comply with the standards set out. While you’ll be required to comply with laws from all levels of the government, you will mostly need approval from your local council. The local council is responsible for implementing state and federal regulations on the local level.

What The Council Does

You’re probably not entirely aware of what the council will look for when attempting to approve your application. In general, the council will analyse your plans to determine whether or not they meet certain specifications, laws, legislation and zoning requirements. These regulations often differ from one location to the next, but the process of gaining approval is virtually the same across the board. If everything passes, the council will give you the go ahead and the building process can start. Don’t worry. It might sound complicated and confusing, but it surprisingly simplistic.

The Development Application (DA)

The first thing you’ll need to do is submit the DA or the Development Application/Assessment. The DA is the form used to request permission to build or develop within the local area. A DA is not a single document. Instead, it is a compilation of documents and it helps to prove that your project deserves to be approved. These documents will also show how your project obeys all building requirements. The DA will normally include site plans, independent reports and architectural plans. You should also include a statement detailing any political contributions you have made to local council.

The Construction Certificate (CC)

Before your builder can break ground on the project, you’ll need to submit a construction certificate application. After this document has been approved, the construction can begin. However, you’ll usually only be able to get the construction certificate approved, after the DA has been approved. In some rare cases, you may be able to submit both documents simultaneously. The construction certificate application should detail the plans that will be followed during the building process. This application can be approved by the council or a private certifier.

Submitting Your Development Application DA

Submitting your DA will not be a timely or difficult process. However, receiving approval from council can be drawn out, causing frustration and delay. The best way to avoid such issues is to submit your DA in a timely manner and make sure your application is completed correctly and thoroughly. Errors and missing information will definitely cause delay and be expensive. View the application thoroughly, before submitting it to council to avoid these problems.

It is also very important to make sure you are filling out the appropriate forms. While most local councils utilise similar forms, there are some exceptions. For instance, a specific LGA (local government authority) could utilise a form with unique questions or information requests. To avoid confusion, check with your local council to request information about special requirements for your planned development project and to request the appropriate forms.

Once you submit your DA, you will always have the option of following up on the approval process. But, you will want to avoid coming off as pushy and demanding, because council may be tempted to put your application back at the bottom of the pile.

It is also not unusual for individuals who submit a DA to be required to meet with the Development Advisory Unit/Planning Unit or DAU. This organisation is comprised of members who are very experienced in development planning. It was specially designed to identify and address issues related to development and the application process. Speaking with the DAU in a face-to-face meeting or by phone to solve issues associated with your DA application will help avoid delays and additional expenses.

Form Requirements

The council requires developers to submit several forms for the approval process. A completed application, an owner’s consent and a Statement of Environment Effects are required in most cases. Visit the Planning Department to access and download the Development Application. It is always in your best interest to submit all documents upfront and always be transparent. This will help to ensure that your project gets approval as quickly as possible.

Consent Form – If you are the sole owner of the land that will be utilised for the development project, you will be required to complete a consent form. If the land is being leased, the owner will be required to complete and sign the consent form. This form provides consent for the land to be utilised for the development project. Visit the Department of Planning webpage to access and download the owner’s consent form.

Statement of Environment Effects (SEE) – The SEE demonstrates how the development project complies with state, regional and local planning and building regulations and requirements. The document covers the footprint and design of the development project, as well as the environmental impact. Depending on where the tract of land is located, additional information may also be required.

  • What the land was previously used for and how it will be utilised in the future
  • A full description of the land and adjacent areas, including the vegetation
  • Listing of existing structures
  • Potential environmental damage
  • How the potential environment impacts have been addressed
  • Steps taken to reduce potential environmental damage

What Is A Site Plan?

Most developers tend to hire an engineer, draftsman or architect to draw up the site plan, which shows the development project drawn to scale. The plan should include infrastructure, such as fences, decks, retaining walls, driveways, patios, pools, drains and walkways.

What Is A Floor Plan?

The floor plan covers the details of the rooms in each building or dwelling. The plan should include the size of each room and its location. An engineer, architect or draftsman can complete the floor plan, including all the specifics required to ensure approval from council.

Sections And Elevations

The elevation depicts the exterior portion of the development. The most crucial component of the elevation is the style and shape of the property. Details of access areas and materials utilised in the building structures should also be included in the elevation. It is also important to include whether the structures will be single or multi-story.

Electricity Act Declaration Form

You may need to submit an Electricity Art Declaration. This document confirms that your building will not be built within a certain distance from power lines. The Electricity Act Declaration form is generally only required in certain states, including SA.

Other Documents

Some projects are far more complex than others. If you’re building in a bushfire-prone area, you will need to take addition steps and work with an accredited consultant to determine the risks involved. If your project is classified as an Integrated Development, you will need to obtain consent from organisations other than the local council.

Handling Sewer Connections

The local council will have a lot of sway when it comes to your sewer connections. They may require you to connect to an existing urban sewer. This is very common for properties in urban areas. If you’re dealing with property in a rural area, you’ll probably be asked to build an onsite effluent disposal. To connect to an existing sewer system in an urban area, you’ll need to obtain approval from the council. Generally, the cost will be roughly $150 per metre.

Dealing with a Significant Tree on Your Land

If you have a lot of trees on your land, you’ll need to make sure that they’re identified on your SEE. The species should be clarified. The council may find that the trees need to be kept on the property. If this is the case, you will need to make sure that they are incorporated into your design. Trees that must be retained are protected by the Australian Standard AS 4970. There is also a possibility that you will need to obtain a report from an independent arborist. This report must be submitted along with your DA.

What To Expect After You Submit Your Development Application

After you’ve submitted the DA, you put the ball in the council’s court. At this point, they should begin the standard assessment process. While each case is different, most applications will be sent around to the council’s architectural and civil engineering officers. These individuals will inspect your plans and current infrastructure to ensure that everything is compatible. You should expect to have no direct input once your application reaches this stage. You can truly only sit back and wait.

For more complex projects, the council may distribute the plans to other specialists and possibly even other governing organisations.

How Long Does It Normally Take?

You’re going to be eager to get construction started as quickly as possible. Unfortunately, the amount of time it takes to get approved can depend on a handful of factors. The complex nature of the project and your location can make a big difference. Just remember that councils are required to meet deadlines. They have a specific time period, in which they must respond to your application. If your project requires additional inspections or permissions, there is a good chance that you’re going to be required to wait a little bit longer.

In Victoria, the council has a period of 60 days to respond to an application. After that, the applicant can get the Victorian Civil Administrative Tribunal involved. Again, the time period will ultimately differ from one area to the next.

Possible to add a table showing the different states in Australia and average time it takes per state? If you can find the info? Put a ? next to ones you are unsure. And links to references you find at bottom.

State

DA (Development application)

CC (Construction Certificate)

WA

90 days for standard developments

120 for major developments

n/a

NSW

40 to 60 days

n/a

VIC

2 weeks to 8 weeks

4 weeks

QLD

n/a

n/a

SA

n/a

n/a

Where To Obtain Assistance With your Development Application

There is no doubt that submitting your first DA can be very frustrating. Just remember that you do not always need to travel down this road on your own. In some cases, it may be best to seek out assistance from a professional. If you want to ensure that everything is absolutely perfect, you should consider paying an advisor. There are numerous individuals that can lend you assistance. These professionals will be explored in greater depth below.

All In One Service

If you want to get the entire process wrapped up and completed as quickly as possible, you should find a comprehensive service provider. Various companies offer all of the services mentioned below, but at a steeper price. Nevertheless, their services will prove to be well worth.

A Town Planner

A town planner will be very versatile. They’ll be able to take care of most of the planning, while also aiding you with completing and submitting the forms and reports. Simultaneously, a town planner can represent you in the courtroom. On average, a town planner will charge anywhere from $3,000 to $4,000. Speak with friends, family members and the council to find a good town planner in your area.

Engineer Or Draftsman

Having the right plans can make a huge difference in getting your application processed quickly. An engineer or draftsman can provide you with high-quality plans. Again, it is best to rely on word of mouth to find a good draftsman in your area or contact our Perth Drafting Service if you are in Perth. There are numerous factors that can play into the overall price that you’ll pay for an engineer’s services. However, you should expect to pay roughly $5,000 to $15,000.

Stormwater Engineer

These professionals can help deliver stormwater and drainage solutions for the property. While their prices can vary, you should expect to pay roughly $3,000 to $7,000 for their assistance. Be sure to use the Internet to aid your search.

Geotechnical Engineer

If you need soil assessments of the property, you may want to consider hiring a geotechnical engineer. They’ll typically charge between $4,000 and $5,000, but their services will prove to be well worth it. These individuals can offer numerous measurements and statistics, including soil pH, soil type and more.

Hydraulics Engineer

If the land is located in an area prone to flooding, you should think about hiring a hydraulics engineer. They’ll provide you with flood reports, which can be very beneficial for getting your application approved. The services of a hydraulics engineer will typically cost between $2,000 and $5,000.

Surveyor

A surveyor will be very beneficial to you. They can help you identify the boundaries of your property, as well as the contours and vegetation. The information collected by the surveyor can also be helpful for engineering and design consultants. Finally, the surveyor will provide you with a plan of survey for registration in your local titles office. The fees charged by a surveyor can differ vastly. Be prepared to pay anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000.

Common Mistakes To Avoid When Submitting a Development Application

A lot of beginners will make mistakes along the way. This will cause their application to be delayed. It is in your best interest to avoid such problems to ensure that the construction can get started as quickly as possible. Be sure to avoid the mistakes below.

  • Failing to provide the correct landowner details. Be sure to use the name of the person or company on the rates notice!
  • Failing to comply with assessment timeframes. If you miss deadlines, your application will transition back to the previous stage. Stay on task to keep things moving along steadily.
  • Being oblivious to site constraints that may result in future design changes. Making changes in the future will require you to alter the application documents and consultation reports.

To avoid problems, it is pertinent to be open and honest. Failing to include vital information or leaving it off intentionally is only going to backfire in the future. Remain transparent and make sure that the documentation is as comprehensive as possible. In return, this will save you time and money in the future.

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