Illegal building works can be costly!

One of the great fallacies of the building industry is that when you are doing ‘maintenance’ or adding on a deck or changing a window to a door etc (a) you don’t need a permit and (b) you are a renovator.

Firstly, you need to check with a local Building Surveyor to see if you do need a building permit and secondly, there is NO category called ‘renovator’ in the Building Act. If you do not employ a Registered Builder you are an Owner Builder.

Illegal Building works can be one of the biggest stumbling blocks an Owner Builder comes across when trying to sell their property.

All building works, including extensions, removing load bearing walls, decks (of any height), garages, granny flats and pergolas all require a building permit and council approval.

To minimise the risk of delaying the sale of your home, voiding your home and contents insurance or incurring council fines or demolition orders it is vital to seek council approval prior to commencing works.

For example: The Stevenson’s built a small deck at the rear of their investment property believing that works under $20,000 did not require a permit. When it came time to sell, their conveyancer informed them that they would be unable to obtain an Owner Builder Warranty for the deck because it did not have a permit and they would need to apply to VCAT for an exemption. The VCAT process took months and cost them the sale of the property.

And, while you are living in the home and want to improve the liveability of your home, do not do what Joan did.

For example: Joan was undertaking a minor renovation of her property, replacing a small timber window for retracting French doors. She believed this was just minor work and did not obtain a building permit. Joan engaged the services of a home Handyman instead of a registered builder to complete the job. Months later, after a heavy storm, Joan returned home to discover the French doors were not water tight and there was extensive water damage to her floors. After contacting her Home and Contents Insurer she was left to cover the costs of resurfacing the floors as her insurance did not cover the damage resulting from illegal building works.

What Joan should have done is check with a local Building Surveyor if she needed a permit and contacted her Home And Contents Insurer to see if they would continue to insure the home and contents and if not, contacted Buildsafe to obtain Owner Builder Construction and Public Liability Insurance.

To prevent potentially costly delays in the sale of your property, voiding your Home and Contents insurance or Council fines you should always seek written advice from your council building Surveyor and take out the appropriate Owner Builder Insurance.

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