Admin and Planning

1. What if I require special reports in order to get my plans approved through council? 

Let’s face it. Regardless of the political rhetoric, it is not getting any easier to navigate through the official planning process that is overseen by councils around the country.

Getting reports such as water conservation, energy ratings, bushfire assessments, soil tests, effluent tests, structural designs for house beams and load bearing sections of your frame, site contour plan and engineer designs for slabs and retaining walls, etc. can be time consuming.

In some cases you will require a DA (Development Application) to see if you are permitted to build your home to the design you want. This can take many, many weeks if you’re going it alone. After the DA you will then be required to have a BA (Building Application) for the general approval of the home.

Once you have these approvals you will have to obtain a CC (Construction Certificate) before council will allow building works to commence. For council to release a CC you will have to provide most of the above reports.

Once again a professional building organization like UBuild Homes can help do all of the above for you (the same as a professional builder). These services can be on a fee basis and do not obligate you to buy a Kit Home package from us. It’s a great service, so look into it.

Be warned though. As an Owner Builder you will be charged a premium by many of the professional services providers that you will need to engage in order to get all of your reports and applications ready for council submission. This ‘premium’ is charged because they expect you to be a drain on their resources because of your lack of experience.  If you are aligned with a professional Kit Home company you will enjoy the safety and security of that organization. Remember time is money, so don’t get caught up in the administration minefield without knowing what to do.

If you are ‘going alone’ with Owner Building you must do indepth research to avoid mistakes. You have to know what is required and submit the right reports at the right time otherwise you run the risk of an application taking twice as long as it should. If an application is incorrect in any way it will be returned and then when it is resubmitted it goes back to the bottom of the pile.

Here is an example: With some engineering detail you also need to know exactly what the carpenters and concreters will need for construction, ie quantity take offs will need to be undertaken on the design. There are many cases of trades building something incorrect due to lack of detail or design. If this were to happen to you then unfortunately you will have no recourse and may have to demolish certain works and start all over again. We have seen it happen. It’s unfortunate but Owner Builders are at the mercy of a complex series of processes. Structural works are closely monitored by engineers and inspectors. If it is missed in the planning stage then you are where the buck stops. That is why we recommend the use of professional organizations like UBuild Homes to guide you through the process. 

2. I need a design to suit my needs. How do I find a good draftsman?

That is a very good question. In fact you should be looking for a draftsman that can deliver the 3 E’s: Effective, Efficient and Economical. We talk about these all the time in the building industry.

Many Owner Builders have come to us and said, “I have been quoted $5000 to have these plans drawn up. Is that good value?” Except where the plans were for a large house with lots of detail then the answer was ‘no, it was not good value’. In addition we hear stories all the time about this process taking months (when it should take weeks) and then the plans were riddled with mistakes.

At UBuild Homes we have access to a panel of professional drafting services that provide high quality outcomes at good prices with good turnaround. We can organise one of these drafting services for you at a fixed price quote for the service without obligating you to a contract to buy a Kit Home. This is simply a service to make sure you get a good outcome with your design.

3. I want to know my rights before entering a Purchasing Agreement how do I do that?

No matter which service provider you decide to go with you need to view their purchasing agreement. Never buy a Kit Home without a detailed tender accompanied by a copy of the standard agreement. Never sign a contract to buy a Kit Home unless you have read and thoroughly understood the entire document.

Make sure someone from the Kit Home company takes the time to fully explain to you in detail and remember to ask lots of questions. If still in doubt take the agreement to a professional like your solicitor or accountant and have them explain it to you. As with any contract or legal documentation, make sure you know what you are signing.

4. What sort of records should I keep?

It is imperative to keep all records, including:

  • quotes, invoices and receipts,
  • warranty documents,
  • trade contact names,
  • dates of purchases via work order copies,
  • Occupational Health and Safety documentation in the event of an accident or a hazardous spill, etc.

A good systems provider will provide you with all the right processes and procedures for keeping records either electronically or manually.

Keep a diary specifically for your project and start making notes in this diary right from the planning stage. Notes in relation to conversations you have with draftsmen, council, engineers, etc can be relied upon later in conflict resolution situations.

5. Do I need a new Council approval if I make changes to my approved plans?

Depending on the degree of change, your service provider can advise you and ensure you are not breaching any of the local council’s rules and regulations. If you are an independent Owner Builder you should go to council and ask for advice.

Some council’s only work through Private Certifiers. In this case you need to engage a Private Certifier to assist you and make sure you get a full quote for the services provided. If you think the quote is too high then it probably is.

Generally speaking if you change the footprint (size of the home) you more than likely will be required to obtain approval for that change. If however it is a small internal change or range of changes you may not need a modified consent. If in doubt ask.

6. Do council charge for a modified application?

Yes, they do and the fees can be severe. In addition could be extra drafting fees if council wants a modified plan.

At UBuild Homes we work very closely with our Owner Builder customers to come up with the right design through our drafting services. We review the plans with the customer so that things are not missed and therefore become costly mistakes later. It’s like having a professional review of your plans before you submit them and this can be a highly valuable service!

7. As an Owner Builder what insurance will I need?

We have a great article on our web site written by an insurance expert that will help answer this very question: Just click here to read the article.