Planning Documentation

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Our primary goal at Longhouse is to help you build a home which supports all your needs, so this first post is going to lay out (hopefully) all the planning documents you’ll need to build a new home in Australia. Understanding this is the first step in getting from the dream of a free and productive life, through the bureaucracy, to a supportive home and community. This list of documents required for building approval should give you an idea of the scope of what you’re facing, so you can start working on putting it all together.

First things first

The type of home you need or want is a whole other topic, and so for now we’ll assume you have somewhere to put it. If not, we’ll have an article soon about what to look for in a piece of land for a range of different needs. At the end of the day though, you’ll need a patch of ground to build on, whether it’s a friends driveway to park a tiny house, or a thousand acres to develop an intentional community, this is the most important thing to find first.

Once you have that, you can get your title documents and a Section 10 (2&5) Certificate from your local council. Together these will tell you what you can build and where you can build it, along with restrictions on the land, easements etc.

You’ll need to get your land surveyed, so that you have a good plan of how the land lies. This is vital for site planning, landscaping, and often even for the building itself, which may need to be modified to suit a slope.

Finally, Dial Before You Dig is a free online service which will get you mapped locations for all the services on your land – power, water, sewer, gas, etc. Maybe there’s nothing there yet, but go through the process anyway just in case.

Plans!

Ok, now you know what the land is like and what you can do, you can get some plans together for your new home. There are a whole lot of ways you can get plans, some of which are:

  • Longhouse offer standard plan sets, which may need to be modified by a local designer, and will always need a site plan drawn up (which you can potentially do yourself).
  • We also offer custom designs which are not site specific, or a full design and drafting service in some areas.
  • With enough thought and learning, you can put together some plans yourself. This will get you the most personalized home, but you will run into more issues with the build and with approvals. Often worthwhile though!
  • You can engage a local building designer (good design, reasonable price) or architect (great design and service, very high price). They can help you with anything from basic concepts right through to full design, drafting, approval management, and often supervise the build to ensure quality and compliance.

Whatever route you take, there are always certain things you’ll need to get a building consent (complying development is a bit different but not enough to go into here). There are two stages to this, but it’s often worthwhile to include everything up front. The two consent stages are the Development Application and the Construction Certificate. The DA is basically to get approval for the building location, type, layout, and aesthetics. The CC goes into the details of how the building is designed and constructed and all the minute features like light fittings and stair dimensions.

DA Plans and Documents

  • Site plan showing all the site features and proposed building location
  • Floor plan showing rooms, dimensions, windows and doors, and proposed colours/materials
  • Elevations which are external front-on views of each side of the building showing heights, materials, colours, windows and doors, and how the home sits on the land.
  • Sections which are a cut-through view of the building showing the interior heights and scale, materials, and some of the construction features if they’re known.
  • Roof plan showing a top down view of the roof with materials and colours, features, and the slope of the roof itself.
  • Shadow diagrams showing how the building’s shadow will impact others in the area at different times of year.
  • Landscape plan showing existing and proposed gardens and trees, hardscaping, boundaries, fences etc.
  • Council sewer connection form if you are connecting to the sewerage system
  • BASIX certificate showing the energy, water, and thermal comfort features included in the home.
  • (sometimes) a stormwater/sewerage plan from a consultant outlining the design of the water management systems being put in place.
  • (if you’re in a Bushfire zone) Bushfire report calculating the site risk and Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) rating
  • Statement of Environmental Effects, which is a fairly significant document which details the impact your development will have on the existing environment, streetscape, and residents. This generally addresses the local town plan requirements with respect to materials, overshadowing, building footprint and height etc.

CC Plans and Documents

  • All the plans from the DA are included, but need to be updated to include the actual construction details like the window and door schedule, internal room details and layouts, structural notes and beam locations etc. Our plan sets include all this information in the basic package so there is no need to make updates for the CC.
  • Construction management plan showing the site and proposed building along with designated areas for contractor parking, waste management, site amenities, material drop point etc.
  • Construction details showing the structural build up and dimensions of walls, windows, roofs and any other elements which are required to show how the home is to be built.
  • Interior room details showing interior wall elevations, detailed floor plans, cabinetry, fixtures, and dimensions
  • Electrical and lighting plans to show locations and types of light fittings, power outlets, exhausts, appliances etc.
  • Slab set-out plan to give the concreters a specific set of slab dimensions with step-downs, plumbing and electrical penetrations and other relevant info.
  • Engineering plans from an engineering firm, including slab design, structural design for beams etc, wind loads and bracing plan, and performance reports for non-code compliant systems such as straw bale walls.
  • Window and door elevations and schedule to detail the style, materials, and dimensions of all windows and doors.
  • A specification document detailing each building system, how it’s to be build, the quality level, and the standards it is to comply with. This is a fairly significant document and extremely valuable for managing trades with a custom build or owner builder project.

This list is at least mostly complete, and at the very least will give you a good idea of the scope of documentation needed and what sort of things are included. There are often extra reports and certificates required as a project comes together, so remember to stay flexible and that there will generally always be a consultant who can help you out.

If we’ve missed anything vital here please let us know and we’ll update, and if you have any questions, don’t hesitate to reach out.

Be excellent to each other.

Derek

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