My Dream Home Extension – Plans and Permits – Part 5

Home Extension – Plans and Permits

We come to the final part in this series about how to go about building your dream home extension. In part 4 we looked at foundations data and soil testing. In this final part, we look at why you must have all your plans and permits ready prior to building.


What are working drawings…commonly referred to as plans? They are where you document everything you require from your extension in the form of drawings and specifications. They show a builder and his tradespersons exactly how each part of the building is to be constructed. The more accurate they are the less chance there is for confusion and disagreement once building has started. Within these plans, there is also information which may need be taken into consideration before building can commence. This includes:

  • Any local council laws and building regulations you need to abide by.
  • Foundation data, which was discussed in Part 4 of this series.
  • The results from a site survey conducted by a licensed land surveyor, especially where the boundaries of the property are a concern.http://foundation part 4
  • Any required energy rating requirements.

Failure to take any required information into consideration may render your plans unusable, a cost which you want to avoid. The best way to ensure that you get an accurately predicted cost is to talk to a builder prior to committing to a set of plans.

It’s really important to make sure you fully understand what is in your plans and specifications before signing off. Specifications take precedence over drawings when it comes to inclusions and exclusions, so both documents need to be examined with care and changed if they don’t reflect your requirements.

Who can create the plans? Plans can be designed and drafted by an architect, a designer or a draftsperson. These professionals can also arrange for engineering and foundation data, as well as any building or planning permits (which is covered below).

However, to have your plans drawn up, including specifications, the architect or designer/ draftsperson must be registered with the Victorian Building Authority. Whoever draws up your plans must be covered by professional indemnity assurance.

When your plans are drawn up you will need to thoroughly check them before signing any contract. The copyright for the building plans and documentation are usually owned by the draughtsperson/ designer/ architect, which usually means that you can only use them once and only on the site where the building was intended. Ensure your building professionals, especially the builder, are using a standard industry contract; these contracts are designed to protect both you (the owner) and the builder on equal terms.


Prior to the commencement of building there are two permits to consider; a planning permit and a building permit.

The planning permit: before you can obtain a building permit is necessary to see if you need a planning permit. A planning permit is required if you need permission to use the land to build your extension on. To see if you require a planning permit you can check with your local authority – in Victoria this is your Council’s Town Planning Office. Whether you need a planning permit or not, you do still need to check if you need a building permit

Any works that are structural and/or cost over $5,000 require a building permit. Any works that cost over $12,000 require Home Owners Warranty insurance.

After construction has finished there are two other permits to consider; an occupancy permit and a certificate of final inspection.

An occupancy permit is required if a new building is going to be occupied. The permit signifies that a registered building surveyor has deemed the new building suitable to be occupied. It is against the law to occupy a new building without this permit. However, an occupancy permit is not required for an extension to an existing home. In this case, you will be issued with a certificate of final inspection. The need for this certificate will be indicated on your building permit.

We hope you have found some great value in this series and that the muddy waters of how to go about building an extension have been cleared. You now have the tools to go forth and turn your home into your dream home.

Please check back here for regular posts about building and renovating – there are some really good ones coming up to help you get ideas and to give you some practical advice and tips on building your dream extension or renovation.

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