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Permits and inspections

Home construction is a closely regulated activity. From plans to on-site completion, there are a number of different people and organisations involved in checking that the construction of your home complies with local planning and building laws that control land use and development, building, plumbing and electrical regulations and utility providers.

At times, a particular land estate may have specific guidelines that go above and beyond other regulations.

  • If the land requires a planning permit to build a house, the local council for the municipality will need to approve your plans and drawings to make sure that your house will meet the standards set out in their planning scheme. If this is the case, a planning permit will be issued. From there the plans will need to be assessed by either a building official from the local council or some states and territories have private building certifiers that can fulfil that role. The building certifier will check aspects such as foundations, framing, light and ventilation, fire safety, safe access and materials. They also check the plans to ensure compliance with required set-backs (the distance of the home from the property lines). Once plans are approved, the builder is issued a building permit or approval. During construction, either a municipal or private building certifier checks the building at several stages to ensure that your builder is following the plans that were approved and is complying with the relevant codes and regulations. The number of required inspections can vary from one state or territory to another, but generally include inspections of the foundations and footings, a frame inspection prior to the installation of roof and wall cladding and a final inspection to check that the building complies with relevant regulations and is safe for habitation. It is important to remember that the building certifier does not have a role in checking the quality of the building work, they are only responsible for checking that it complies with the minimum or specified building regulations. If a building contract or plans set a higher standard than the building regulations, it is your responsibility to check this with the builder.
  • Plumbing and electrical work will generally also require permits and inspections. The requirement and number of inspections will vary from state to state. Most local authorities will be responsible for issuing permits and inspecting plumbing and electrical work. In some instances, the utility companies may be responsible.
  • When the home has been completed to the satisfaction of the building certifier or the person that issued the building permit, you will be issued with a certificate that allows occupation of the building. Note that this certificate generally ensures that the building complies with regulations and is fit for occupancy. It may not cover all items under the contract documents; this is something you should check when doing the final ‘walk through’ at handover.
  • Without doubt, the most ardent ‘inspector’ is your builder, after all, a builder’s reputation is on the line with every new home. Professional builders pay close attention to every aspect of construction to make sure that their homes not only meet code requirements but also offer the quality and value that you expect. Before you take possession of your new home, you and your builder will carefully inspect it together, from top to bottom.

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