RenovationsTips and Advice

When it comes to renovations and house extensions, one of the most significant phases starts well before the construction process. This phase – aptly named pre-construction – involves gaining council planning approval, development approval and any other necessary approvals for construction that will hopefully result you being awarded a building permit for your planned home extension.

To help you prepare for your home renovation, our town planner, Hamish Gleeson has outlined the essential requirements you’ll need to understand if you want to gain approval from your local council for your home extension projects in Western Australia.

Will I need planning, building and council approval for my renovation?

The short answer is if your renovation plans involve external changes, or your home extension doesn’t follow the usual building rules (known as “deemed to comply” standards) or local planning guidelines, you’ll likely need to get planning approval.

While some minor works like fittings likely won’t need council approval, you should always check for necessary permits and approvals before commencing any building or renovation work to ensure minimal disruption.

Remember, regulations and requirements can vary significantly from council to council, and it is your duty and responsibility to ensure all necessary approvals are secured.

When are planning, building and council approvals always required for renovation?

Most external renovations and significant extensions that require structural changes or substantial excavation will require council approval. This includes residential additions such as swimming pools, garages, sheds, water tanks and decks as well as new freestanding buildings like granny flats. Even changes to fences and retaining walls will require approval but there are significant differences in how each council handles these.

When might I not need council approval?

Minor internal renovations like bathrooms, kitchens bedrooms may not need a permit if you are making no changes to your home’s construction such as moving doors, knocking down walls or adding / changing the size of windows. In most councils small external changes, like utility fittings, usually don’t need approval either. Still, they must adhere to planning policies and might need other regulatory checks.

Additional Resources

The Australian Government provides a detailed guide on renovations and additions, outlining various requirements.


How to best prepare your application for council approval

When preparing your council approval application, the most important advice we can give you is to leave no room to assumption and make important information easy to find.

Here are some key points to follow:

  • Prioritise including precise information on how your plans comply with local zoning laws and show how your project aligns with the Building Codes of Australia and council regulations.
  • Address any foreseeable impact on your community and neighbours clearly and upfront.
  • Be proactive and responsive to any council queries and meeting requests. It will show that you have a thorough understanding of your project and its implications.

Thankfully, if you are working with an experienced builder such as Summit Renovations, they will understand all of the intricacies in paperwork that come with the council approval process. This expertise guarantees that your home extension aligns perfectly with regulatory requirements, ensuring a smooth approval process.


How long can I expect Council approval to take?

There is a 60 day or 90 day statutory time-frame for most applications, but bigger projects may take up to 120 days.

What Factors Affect Council Approval Time

The biggest factor that increases the duration of council approval is whether or not consultation is required. Consultation often involves engaging with neighbours, community members, and other stakeholders, which can add time for feedback and potential modifications to your plans. Additionally, complex projects that require more detailed assessments or those that involve heritage or environmental considerations may also extend the approval timeline.

To minimise the chance of issues, we strongly recommend that you engage in communication with your neighbour prior to starting the extension. This dialogue would involve making sure they have a clear understanding of the planned extension so that they can address any concerns they might have upfront, which you can then incorporate into the design process.

How to speed up the approval process

In addition to talking to your neighbours before you start the process, it’s worth noting that certain councils expedite specific applications. For instance, the City of Stirling employs a fast-track development application process, and Summit Renovations is an accredited member within this program.


What if the council rejects my renovation plans?

As your representative, Summit Renovations will assist in understanding the reasons for rejection and can appeal against the decision and directly engage with the Council Authority to explore avenues for achieving approval for the existing plans. If this does not achieve the desired outcome, your Summit designer can revise the plans for the home improvements, aligning them with Council’s stipulations, and subsequently resubmit the application. It’s important to note that compromises may have to be made due to the nature of changing existing structures with R-codes involved.

What are the common reasons the council might reject my extension plans?

Councils may reject renovation plans for several reasons, mostly relating to non-compliance with local regulations, community impact, or environmental concerns.


How can I Simplify the Planning Approval Process

While extending an existing property is a great way to add significant value to your home, hidden costs, poorly planned budgets and delays can quickly cause you to break even. Whether you are looking to extend your ground floor, improve your living space or add a second floor to capitalise on some city, or river views, in most cases, choosing the right builder will pay for itself.

Partnering with a builder who has in-depth knowledge of the R Codes, local planning framework, and working practices of the council is key. A home builder who can produce a design to meet your needs but also comply with the planning framework will streamline your entire process of home extension.


What is the planning approval process with Summit Renovations?

Once a Summit Renovations designer has visited your home for the comprehensive plan and measurement consultation for your proposed extension, they will then proceed to draw up the amendments to the existing home layout. In some instances, you may be asked to provide the original blueprint of the home. Sometimes this process will also involve creating a 3D render of what your renovated home, with its new room or extra space, will look like. Once you and your designer have agreed on the final project plans in line with Council requirements, the plans will be submitted for approval via Summit Renovations.


Why choose Summit Renovations for your home improvements in Perth?

The biggest reason homeowners choose Summit Renovations is their experience. The design consultants at Summit Renovations are some of the most experienced in Perth, having transformed more than 3,500 homes to better suit people’s lifestyles.

We will custom design your home extension to perfectly fit into your existing homes design as if it’s always been there.