Before you buy your shed, you need to make sure that it has building or development approval, or is exempt, otherwise you can end up with an unusable pile of beautiful steel. Council requirements for approvals differ widely around Australia, and there are also state and territory-based laws regarding shed design and placement. You will need to speak to your local planning authority. Most residential sheds, single or double car garages, carports or just about any structure bigger than a garden shed need approval. Your shed will need to comply with regulations, such as location and drainage needs, and your council will be able to supply you with an easy guide to these.
A supply and install contract with an Accredited Ranbuild dealer can see them manage the whole approvals process for you, only requiring any additional documentation about your property that the council will need. This is often the best option for the time-poor. Double-check that all approvals have been granted before work is begun, as even the best company can make a mistake and it is ultimately your legal responsibility if something is missed.
It can be a daunting task submitting a development application, because the guidelines usually ask for reams of documentation along with many forms. Before you begin, visit or call your local planning authority and speak with one of the planning officers or building licensers likely to deal with your application.
You will often find that what is actually required is much simpler. Planning officers are generally very helpful and their information will be accurate and up to date. They are the people who make decisions about whether or not a build is appropriate, so if you follow their guidance, it’s hard to go wrong.
Your submission should be clear, accurate, set out in easy-to-read point form, and as detailed as required. It should:
- Mention everything the planning officer has asked for;
- Contain attached documentation in logical order, labelling each document clearly and referring to it by the one name throughout the submission;
- Detail materials, builders and any other contractors. Sheds made using BlueScope Steel products, such as COLORBOND® steel, ZINCALUME® steel along with sheds from Ranbuild whose designs meet the requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) are advantages here as they are known quantities and preferred options.
Council or your Building Authority may come back to you with questions, especially if you want an unusual build for your area. Usually they will supply contact details for a member of their planning team for you to discuss these issues. Work directly with the staff member to resolve the issues, which can be as simple as providing more information.
Where there are difficulties, see if you can strike a compromise. A shed placed too close to a boundary, for example, may be made acceptable with guttering and a water tank to deal with water run-off. It’s worth going back to your Ranbuild dealer with council issues as they may be able to suggest alternatives, or provide more structural details that will satisfy the planning officer.
Be as thorough as you can and deliver materials by the requested dates as resubmissions and extensions usually attract extra costs.
Double-check that all your paperwork is in order. Even if you believe you are exempt from seeking planning or building approval, get in touch with your local council to make sure you are meeting all their guidelines. Costs vary depending on your local area.
If you are an owner-builder, make sure that you have met all your legal obligations before you begin work, a small amount of inconvenience now can save a lot later.
You have approval and your quote – now’s the time to go through it in detail to check that everything you wanted, including accessories, is included in the quote.