When considering building extensions and doing renovations it is always advisable to seek permission and have the necessary approval from the proper authorities before starting any improvements. When acquiring a property, make sure all work to the property has been authorized and received the necessary certification on completion of works.
WITH GOOGLE MAPS AND NEARMAPS ETC COUNCILS DO NOT HAVE TO DRIVE AROUND LOOKING FOR UNAPROVED STRUCTURES
With these tools councils have the resources at their fingertips to locate any unapproved structures, not only that there is always a friendly neighbor just too willing to make a complaint about an unauthorized structure.
HERE ARE THREE EXAMPLES FOR UNAPPROVED STRUCTURES FROM MY OWN EXPERIENCE
In 1995 I acquired a farm and on the farm were a few unapproved structures which were a stable block, a swimming pool without a fence and a studio building just off the main home which was approved. So after reroofing and renovating the home which needed to be done I had a fence erected around the pool and brought the stable block and studio up to scratch and decided to seek approval for these structures from council, which were luckily enough to retrospectively receive a certificate of approval from council.
The second example for structures built without approval – 35 years ago my sister in law brought a 4 bedroom home, however the 4th bedroom had never been approved. Although plans had been applied for there had never been a final certificate of approval for the 4th bedroom extension. She has recently passed away and her children sold the house at auction, obviously the buyer did not care that there was no approval for the extension. It was obviously the same case with the farm I brought, two lots of people had on sold the property before I brought it without ever worrying about a final approval. However at any time council could have demanded that all these structures be demolished.
Talk about taking big risks I also have a friend who was renting a housing commission home in an exclusive suburb, it was in its original condition built in the early 1960’s. When he decided to do some alterations – he knocked out walls, put in two rsj steel beams and made it open plan, put in a super modern kitchen and built a huge under roof outdoor area attached to the house to the rear of the property, then reroofed the whole lot of it with a colorbond roof from tiled roof. Then believe it or not they sold it to him for under market value as if it were not touched since the 60’s. As all works were professionally done he has since been able to have an engineer certify all the work and have it approved. How lucky was he, it could have quite possibly gone the other way with him given an order to rectify and vacate the property.
WHILST THE THREE EXAMPLES OF STRUCTURES BUILT WITHOUT APPROVAL HAVE ALL EXPERIENCED MOTHER LUCK, THIS IS NOT ALWAYS THE CASE
When contemplating improvements to your bricks and mortar make sure you have the necessary approval. Also make sure that all work that is done is done to the highest standard. Remember this, if council can retrospectively approve an unapproved structure and issue with a final certificate, they can also issue with an instruction to demolish. The planning system can be a complicated process and take time however it is worth the wait, ignoring councils can be risky and costly business there have been many instances where people have been ordered to demolish illegal structures and the uncertainty of taking the risk is just not worth it.
Furthermore it has also been known that any alterations that tenants of government owned properties have done to their rented properties, the value of the alteration has increased the price of the property if the tenant is lucky enough to purchase the property.
So if you own, get approval and if you rent don’t make alterations, the alternative has been a very expensive exercise for most people.