Guidelines to obtaining approval for Development Application (DA) or Planning Permit (PP)

Application for planning permit - the process

In New South Wales and Victoria, the application to subdivide, renovate or develop property is called a Development Application (DA) and Planning Permit (PP) respectively.  The chances for obtaining an approval for a DA from the local council can be improved by following a few guidelines which are designed to facilitate transparent communication between the applicant and the council.

1. Find a good project manager / consultant

A consultant who is knowledgeable and well-versed with local planning laws and building codes will be able to provide critical advice on the feasibility of a proposed development. It is ideal to choose a consultant with a good track record for project managing similar developments within the suburb and one who has previously dealt with the local municipality / council for the suburb. This will ensure familiarity with local council guidelines which may vary from one council to another. More importantly, the consultant may have previously dealt with planning officers within the council and understand critical requirements of council to maximise the chances of any potential DA to be approved.

2. Comply to building and construction codes

A consultant who is well-versed with local building and construction codes will also be able to provide advice and design initial drawings and building plans which will comply to these codes. This important step will ensure there are no potential constraints or issues which are against planning laws that will hinder or delay the application process.

3. Arrange for a pre-application meeting with council

It is important to arrange for a pre-application meeting with council to establish and develop a relationship with the relevant planning officer who will be assigned to the application. It is not unusual to have more than one or two pre-application meetings whilst the design and building plans are being drawn to obtain feedback to fine-tune the drawings to ensure they satisfy all council requirements. This step can also be seen from council’s point of view that the applicant wishes to have a consultative approach and co-operate with council to ensure all requirements are met. Some councils have daily planning meetings where applicants can make appointment to discuss their proposed plans with council. This is a good approach to take before making key decisions that require financial and time commitments on the project.

4. Develop cordial relations with surrounding neighbours

If council is satisfied that all requirements to building and construction codes are complied with, the council will advise the application is then ready to be advertised where a signage is required to be erected on the proposed site to inform the neighbours of the proposed development. The council will usually also arrange for letters to be sent to neighbours within the vicinity of the proposed development to advise them of the same. Sometimes, neighbours can be concerned about how the proposed development will affect their property and will raise their concerns and objections during the advertisement period which is usually for a period of 14 days. Therefore, it is also important to engage and develop good relationships with neighbours as a basis to alleviate their concerns and assure them of a positive outcome from the development.

5. Follow-up process with council

Follow-up activity with council is important to ensure the application process is on track and within stipulated time-frames. Any objections from neighbours should also be analysed to see if such objections relate to any contravention of planning laws which may delay or halt the application process. If the objections do not relate to a breach of planning laws, then the project manager / consultant should try to obtain feedback from council on the likelihood of approval.

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7 Black Forest road, Werribee, Victoria

7 Black Forest road, Werribee

FOR SALE: 7 Black Forest road, Werribee, Victoria

Vacant land: 1001 sqm

Location: Corner of Black Forest road and Walls road, Werribee

Asking price: $259,000

Agent: Mr Haydon Lanyon, Elders Real Estate, Werribee. Mobile: 0407 068 729

This block of level and near rectangular land has double street frontage and is located at the corner of two main roads – Black Forest road and Walls road. It is within walking distance to the Werribee Racecourse and is approximately 3km from the Werribee train station.

How to find a good architect

How to find a good architect 1

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

When you are considering building your own home or undertaking major renovations, an architect may be critical to ensure that your project will be completed within your budget and time frame. Many people see an architect as someone who comes up with an initial concept design for a house and a builder would then carry out the construction work.

Depending on the terms of the contract, a good architect invariably involves more than the design and building plans. The key benefits of engaging an architect for your building project or renovations include:

  • Collaborating with the owner throughout the design process – providing guidance and advice on the aesthetics as well as the practical aspects of a design, choosing the different types of building materials and finishes and the level of quality finish according to your budget.
  • Deliberate with council to obtain feedback on compliance with building code and regulations, submit your building plans to council for approval.
  • Project manage the entire building and construction process – advising, supervising and managing the various parties involved such as builders, landscaper, plumbing and electrical works.
  • Provide advice on variations and offer suggestions to ensure efficiency in energy use whilst incorporating sustainable and environmentally friendly building principles.
How to find a good architect

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

Key process and issues to finding a good architect

  • Search through national bodies such as the Association of Consulting Architects Australia to find a list of architects within your city or state.
  • A good architect / firm of architects should have an informative website to provide clients and prospective clients about the type of work the firm specialises in. Such information would include the size of the firm, number of partners, previous number, size and location of projects undertaken. It is important to ensure the architect has the relevant experience and have undertaken similar projects before in the past.
  • The architect should ideally have previous experience in dealing with the council in which you will be applying to and be able to provide an indication of whether proposed plans have any special conditions or requirements of council and the likelihood of approval.
  • Discuss with a few different architects to gain a feel for the type of experience, work ethics and proposed fees charged. Just like many other professions, an architect’s terms of engagement and professional fees are guided by the standard Architect’s Institute of Australia (AIA) Client Architect agreement. You need to ensure you understand the terms of the agreement and consult a legal adviser if necessary.
  • The architect will need to provide a fee proposal and terms of engagement that is appropriate for your project and should be flexible in tailoring certain issues according to your requirements. He / she should provide an indication of the duration or time line for the entire project so that you have a clear understanding of its costs and completion dates at each stage.
  • It is important that you feel comfortable dealing with your prospective architect from the outset as you will need to be working closely with him / her during the course of the entire project.

When you have finally chosen your preferred architect, you will need to sign the letter of engagement before the architect can commence work on your project. It is very important to be hands-on during the course of the project even though the architect may be acting as the project manager / single point of contact that supervises the entire building and construction team. This is to be absolutely certain the project is going according to schedule and within your budget.

How to find a good architect 2

Architecture House Design by Mark Canadell Architect

Washington Brown – Property Depreciation Services

Washington Brown

Washington Brown is a firm of Quantity Surveyors with offices in major capital cities in Sydney, Tyron HydeMelbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns and Hobart.

Headed by Director Tyron Hyde who has more than 16 years experience, this firm provides the following services:

  • property depreciation services in all  property types which include residential, commercial and industrial property.
  • construction costs estimation and planning.
  • building insurance valuation.

It is important for property investors to have an accurate account of depreciable items in their investment property so as to maximise the benefits of tax deductions.

I have personally used this firm to provide a depreciation schedule for one of my brand new investment units and have found their service to be prompt, courteous and most importantly an accurate and convenient report that sets out the 2 methods of depreciation -  Diminishing Value and Prime Cost together with the Division 43 for Special Building Write-off allowance.

Property Bloom – property development manager with a passion

Property Bloom - Nurturing & Growing Property Investments

After buying her family home on Sydney’s northern beaches and watching in awe as the value Joanna Chivers grew, Joanna Chivers was amazed at how much money was being made by just sitting back and waiting for capital appreciation. She was convinced that taking action and being proactive in “manufacturing” equity, the returns would be even bigger and hence, Property Bloom was born.

Clearly a very capable entrepreneur, Joanna built a multi-million dollar property investment portfolio in between having two gorgeous sons. She found that investment yields and capital growth were far superior if one renovate and develop but found the Sydney market to be far too expensive. Her research took her to the more affordable Hunter region and where she set up her property development project management business in 2001.

Property Bloom has been featured in various newspapers and Joanna has written regularly for Your Investment Property magazine and presented in seminars and workshops.

How to obtain accurate construction costs?

Not only have property prices increased significantly over the last 15 months, property investors who are looking to build their own homes either through a builder or using a volume home builder need to be aware that construction costs are also on the rise. Trade services are not cheap and depending on the level of finishings, these costs all add up when you take into account planning and council fees, project management fees, ancillary charges and don’t foget contingencies – there is bound to be some unforeseen expenses that need to be budgeted for.

Rawlinsons Construction Cost Guide is an excellent guide which provides extensive unit cost data for housing, small commercial and industrial buildings throughout Australia.

The obvious advantage of a new dwelling is the tax depreciation if it is going to be an investment property provided these depreciation charges suit the financial and tax circumstances of the individual investor. For example, there is little point in negative gearing a portfolio if you are only going to make tax losses at the end of the financial year.

Having an accurate account of construction costs will minimise the risk of cost overruns as this is usually the largest single cost category when building a new home. A good project manager and quantity surveyor will be able to provide accurate estimates in order to ensure the project is within budget and can be completed on time.

Some quantity surveyors provide construction cost calculator / estimator on their websites. These tools should only be used as a guide as they may not be able to take into account more detailed costings associated with a particular building project.

BMT Tax Depreciation
, a firm of quantity surveyors have recently come up with estimates of construction cost per square metre for Sydney. This is a very useful guide for investors who are contemplating building their own home.

BMTTax Depreciation - Obligation free quote

BMT Tax Depreciation, Quantity Surveyors

BMT Tax Depreciation is a firm of Quantity Surveyors with offices in all major capital cities – Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Newcastle, Perth, Adelaide, Cairns, Gold Coast, Hobart and Darwin.

This firm provides the guarantee that when you receive a BMT Report your depreciation deductions will be maximised. If they can not obtain double their fee worth of deductions in the first full financial year claim, there will be no charge for our services.

It is important for property investors to have an accurate account of depreciable items in their investment property so as to maximise the benefits of tax deductions.

I have used this firm to provide a depreciation schedule for one of my brand new investment units and have found their service to be prompt, courteous and most importantly an accurate and convenient report in PDF that sets out the 2 methods of depreciation –  Diminishing Value and Prime Cost together with the Division 43 for Special Building Write-off allowance.

This firm has also provided provided an account of the latest Construction cost per square metre for Sydney.

BMTTax Depreciation - Obligation free quote

27 Staughton street, Melton South

27 Staughton street, Melton South

 

This property consist of a 3 bedroom house with 1 bathroom and 1 car space on a 1,000 sqm of level land in the heart of Melton South, Melbourne.

 

It is conveniently located within a 2 minute walk to the Melton train station and to local shops and amenities. It has a planning permit approved by the council for an additional 2 units in addition to the existing house.

 

Each of the proposed units have 2 bedroom, 2 bathrooms, single car port and open plan living and dining. This property was sold in August 2010 for $375,000 by agent Max Attalla of Barry Plant, Melton.

 

Vital statistics (August 2010)

Suburb Median house price $ Weekly advertised median rent $ Gross yield $ 3-year growth % 5-year growth % Average annual growth %
Melton 225,000 240 5.5 23.6 32.3 9.5
Melton South 230,000 230 5.2 31.4 35.3 9.9
Melton West 265,000 245 4.8 17.8 26.8 8.4

Source: Your Investment Property, September 2010

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How it’s calculated:

Median price: Median price for the 12 months to May 2010

Average annual growth: Average percentage change over the past 10 years as a per annum figure

5-year growth: Median price percentage change over the past 5 years to May 2010

Weekly median advertised rent: Median price of rental listings for the 12 months to May 2010

Gross yield: Estimated rental return, based on advertised rent to median price

Vital statistics (December 2009)

Suburb Median house price $ Weekly advertised median rent $ Gross yield $ 3-year growth % 5-year growth % Average annual growth %
Melton 220,000 230 5.4 22.2 29.0 9.5
Melton South 208,000 220 5.5 18.9 22.4 9.7
Melton West 245,000 240 5.1 11.4 16.7 8.0

Source: Your Investment Property, December 2009

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

How it’s calculated:

Median price: Median price for the 12 months to August 2009

Average annual growth: Average percentage change over the past 10 years as a per annum figure

5-year growth: Median price percentage change over the past 5 years to August 2009

Weekly median advertised rent: Median price of rental listings for the 12 months to August 2009

Gross yield: Estimated rental return, based on advertised rent to median price

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How to choose the right builder for your dream home

2007972583_1_FS

Home renovations, extensions and improvements have pre-occupied many Australians who choose to embark on the work for various reasons – improve their lifestyle, family planning, make money and create value for their real estate investments.

Building a new home involves an extensive list of professionals and tradesmen, the most important one of which is the builder. Some key issues to consider in choosing the right builder include:

1. Seek recommendations

If friends have previously used a builder, then the best approach would be to discuss with the friend and be able to see for yourself the quality of the build and feedback. Most architects and project managers will also be able to recommend good builders as it forms part of their everyday work in dealing with builders and tradespeople.superstock_1042r-9822b.medium

2. The builder is a registered practitioner

In order to carry out building works, the builder must have all the required insurance during the construction phase until the occupancy certificate is issued. A builder who is not licensed or registered will not be able to obtain the relevant public liability,  WorkCare and completion guarantee insurance. Completion guarantee insurance is required by the building surveyor before a building permit can be issued to commence construction. Builders are also required to provide the statutory six-and-a-half-year structural guarantee insurance on all domestic building works. You can check if the builder is licensed under the Department of Fair Trading website.

3. Credit check and solvency

There have been many cases where the builder becomes insolvent during a project, leaving the entire construction site unattended and incomplete. This has disastrous consequences in terms of legal implications, public safety and continuity of project not to mention financial stress on holding costs. Credit checks on builders can be obtained from credit reporting agencies such as Veda Advantage and Dun & Bradstreet.

4. Previous building experience on similar work

Some builders specialise in certain type of building work and it is important to ensure the builder is capable of effectively carrying out the proposed project. Check out the builder’s previous projects to ascertain build quality and speak to their previous clients to obtain written references and feedback on cost competitiveness, timeliness and service.

The building  / construction contract

There are essentially 2 types of domestic / residential building contracts provided by:DBI_Image_2

a) Master Builders Association (MBA)

b) Housing Industry Association (HIA)

The building contract is one of the most important documents in the construction and development of a property. The contract generally sets out the key terms and conditions, among other things, the obligations, rights and remedies for all parties involved. It is always advisable to have the building contract verified and advised upon by a solicitor who has extensive experience in property law and conveyancing in this area of specialty.

Pertinent terms and conditions of a building contract include the following key issues:

a) Cost of construction (ie the contract price you will pay the builder) and the manner in which progress payments will be made. In general, progress payments are broken up into 6 stages and the percentages of each stage must be clearly stated:

i) Initial deposit to confirm acceptance of the building contract and for the builder to commence construction work;

ii) Payment at the end of the base stage;

iii) Payment at the end of the frame stage;

iv) Payment at the end of the lock-up stage;

v) Payment at the end of the fixing stage;

vi) Final payment upon completion of the project and issuance of occupancy certificate.

b) Detailed scope of work for each stage of the construction process

c) Timeline which sets out the, commencement date, estimated deadline and milestones for each stage of the construction phase and the final completion date

d) Sets out detailed recourse / remedies in the event there is a dispute between the owner / developer with the builder

e) Provisions that all building and construction works are in accordance with relevant building guidelines, rules and regulations

f) Specifies that work carried out is in compliance with the building specifications, architect drawings and cost calculations.

g) Specific details of all parties, location and title details – name and address of the property and the registered owner, name and address of the builder, description of the property and its title details.

h) Allowance for prime cost items – this allowance is for items, fixtures and fittings which have yet to be chosen by the owner whereby a pricing has not been determined.

i) Allowance for unsuitable weather, public holidays and other unforeseen events.

How to get into property development

Ron Forlee - Australian Residential Property Development

For any budding residential property developer, I cannot recommend more highly Ron Forlee excellent book on the subject. Among the key topics covered in his book include:

  • Understanding the residential property market and development process
  • Getting the best professional advice
  • Site selection and purchase
  • Maximising your profit
  • Sourcing the best development finance
  • Taxes and tax planning
  • Authorities, approvals and rezoning
  • Planning, design and cost control
  • Marketing and selling
Ron Forlee

Ron Forlee

Ron Forlee graduated as an architect from the University of KwaZulu-Natal in South Africa before immigrating to Australia in 1983. Established his own design and property development consultancy called Archiplan Pty Ltd in Perth whilst still maintaining an interest in South Africa.

Over the past 30 years Ron has been involved in all facets of architecture from design to on-site supervision, and managing his own property developments.

Projects have ranged from housing to larger commercial buildings such as shopping centres, office blocks and tourism developments both in Australia, South Africa and China.

Being an expert in the field of property development, Ron has written and published three books, two on property development and the other building construction and has delivered a number of papers at seminars on the subject of his pet interest.

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