Your Building Process

Key steps in a renovation/extension

Designing, planning and executing a home renovation or extension needs to be thorough and meticulous to avoid cost blowouts and delays. We highly recommend contacting us at the earliest stage of planning your renovation or extension. In our experience, the earlier we are engaged in the building process, the better the outcome in both project cost and build time.

Below we have outlined some of the steps in planning an extension or renovation process, and what we can do to help you along the way.

Appointing a building designer

The right building designer will work with you to bring your ideas to life, and also work collaboratively with the builder to ensure the project design is sensible and sound from a construction perspective, and that the project fits with a client’s budget.

Professional fees can vary hugely between design firms, and because of this, some firms may not be suitable for your project. Having an experienced builder on your side early on in the project can help with selecting a skilled designer who will fit with your budget and design goals.

Appointing a building surveyor

Renovation and extension work must, with limited exceptions, be overseen by a Relevant Building Surveyor (RBS). The Victorian Building Authority states:

Building surveyors provide independent oversight of buildings and building work throughout the construction process and upon completion of construction to ensure that buildings are safe for use, accessible and energy efficient. They do this by:

  • assessing and approving (where appropriate) applications for building permits
  • undertaking inspections of buildings and building work
  • approving building occupation/use (where appropriate).

A person registered as a building surveyor in Victoria may carry out the following functions under the Building Act 1993:

  • issue building permits
  • carry out inspections of buildings and building work
  • issue certificates of final inspection and occupancy permits
  • approve temporary occupation of buildings, and
  • enforce safety and building standards through:
    • giving and enforcing directions to fix non- compliant building work
    • causing a building notice to be served
    • making building orders, and
    • making emergency orders (municipal building surveyors only).

The appointment of the surveyor must be made by the property owner, and we can assist with this process by issuing documentation and acting as a liaison where appropriate. We also have a panel of professional, thorough and efficient building surveyors we recommend to clients to make the process easier.

Finding out your property’s zone

Every property in Victoria is zoned. These zones determine the nature of building work that can take place, and if a planning permit is required to undertake such work. You can check your property’s zone by clicking on the link below. An architect or draftsman with good local knowledge will have a thorough understanding of your area’s zoning restrictions

Small allotments and Protection work

Smaller lots have different town planning and development rules. If building work is to be undertaken close to site boundaries, there may also be the requirement to use fire-resistant materials, cladding, and skylights in these areas.

Building work undertaken close to neighbouring buildings may also require protection work, which the building surveyor will determine when assessing a building permit application. Protection work is done to protect an adjoining property from damage during building, and may involve the use of screens, hoardings, barriers, shade cloth or other physical barriers. If the building work involves excavation close to an adjoining property, that property may need to be protected from subsiding (sinking) by means of bored piers or other earth-stabilising works. There are several official forms that must be served on adjoining property owners under the Building Act 1993, and these forms must be served by the property owner.

The protection work process can be complicated, technical, and sometimes daunting, but we will assist you every step of the way to make it as easy and fast as possible so building work can begin.

Heritage listing status

i-Heritage is Melbourne city’s database for heritage listed properties and the Victorian Heritage Database covers the rest of Victoria. Heritage listed properties have stringent planning and development restrictions and it is important to work with experienced building professionals who understand heritage overlays to get the most out of a renovation or extension project in these areas.

Other development constraints

Your property may be in a flood plain, a bushfire zone or an overland water flow path, and there are specific development requirements governing in these instances.

Know what you can do in your area

Council websites have a range of resources to help you plan your home renovation concept within council and development guidelines. It is a good idea to research the specific planning and development rules in your area right from the beginning when you start to develop your project ideas.

When should you contact Northern Building & Carpentry?

The steps to get through the design, planning, permits and approval stages of your renovation or extension can be interwoven, industry specific and complex. Enlisting our help in the initial stages means we can save you time and unnecessary complications getting through these steps while ensuring you get what you want from your home renovation. Being involved from an early stage also means we can provide running cost estimates throughout the planning phases to keep the project on budget and make adjustments where necessary before the process is finalised and you have spent thousands on professional fees and government levies.