Laws, building standards, easements, strata, restrictions, boundaries, foundations, heritage…neighbours…there is a lot to consider.
It may or may not surprise you, but that Disney themed haunted mansion you have in mind for that land you just bought in an over 50’s gated community, is unlikely to be approved.
In all seriousness, there are many factors that will determine what you can and cannot build on your prize piece of land. For the uninitiated, this topic requires a manual all to itself.
Ultimately, however, you can avoid disappointment by understanding the local laws and restrictions before you start dreaming of your perfect home.
Firstly, there are national building standards. These are complemented by state requirements and local government requirements.
Generally speaking, the national building standards cover building quality and safety. Essentially, building a home is rarely a DIY prospect. It requires certified professionals across several disciplines. A good builder is well across this, and you’ll (hopefully) not have to worry about it.
For those building in a gated community, there will almost certainly strata requirements. In terms of what you build, there may be strict rules governing many features including fence height, and garage door style and colour.
The issues most of us are likely to face are relative to state and local government rules such as boundaries, adjoining properties, streetscapes, shadowing and clearing.
For example, in a street dominated by 1960’s single story bungalow style houses, it is unlikely that you will be able to erect a 3 story, modern architectural edifice, particularly if there is a protected tree growing in the middle of the vacant lot.
The rules can often seem a little arbitrary, and often appear completely subjective. However, common sense and some good advice might tell you that if your home design is radically contrasting to a more uniform streetscape, you should ask the question of council before your heart is set on design. A builder can certainly advise about this, but this is ultimately between you and official bodies such as council.
A project home in a new subdivision is far less of a challenge. So long as boundary requirements, overshadowing requirements, and any easement laws are met, there should be no problem.
Builders are generally well-versed in these issues and would be able to draw your attention to possible issues. Again, assume the onus is on you to check it out with council first, should you have any doubt.
A challenge that is often faced comes down to the earth on which we intend to build. Ground (the dirt) is classed. The class of earth has a large impact on what you can build, how you build it, and the materials you can use in the construction.
For example, earth that is highly unstable might only be suitable for a single story timber home on piers. You may have had a slab based foundation in mind, yet the slope of the site makes this impractical.
Yes, modern materials and techniques can overcome a host of a site’s geographical issues. But this is where cost can get ridiculous. It’s all well and good to spend half a mil on the exact house you want. However, it would hurt to have to spend another half mil on site remediation and foundations to make it possible.
Before you get your heart set on a design, make sure you understand what is actually possible, both legally, and practically. A builder can certainly advise.