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Early advice a foundation for wise building works

A substantial rise in the number of Armidale region property owners penalised for unapproved building work has been attributed to the popularity of DIY television programs and inaccurate advice from some professionals.

Council’s planning staff have issued an increased number of infringement penalties in recent months, for construction or renovation works completed without the necessary approvals or without checking if the property improvements were compliant with regulations.

“Our key message is to contact Council and get advice before embarking on any building or renovation project,” Council’s Service Leader – Sustainability & Development, Ambrose Hallman, said.

“Building surveyors and planning officers are available at Council’s front counters each working day. They can quickly provide clarification and advice that can avoid major problems down the track.

“Works that do need approval can be fast-tracked and processed in a matter of days, so owners can be confident the improvements meet building and safety standards.”

Mr Hallman said a lack of awareness among some tradespeople about approval requirements was also contributing to the number of detections of building infringements.

“Owners should be aware that works undertaken without approval can have serious consequences when they go to sell a property,” he said.

“Documentation of all property improvements must be provided at the time of sale and illegal works will be detected at this stage. Subsequent fines can amount to thousands of dollars and a lack of approvals can bring considerable complications in selling a home – not to mention the health and safety risks of works that might not meet national standards.

“Retrospective building certificates can be issued but they are temporary, which creates issues for current owners and people looking to buy a property.”

He said the recommendation to get Council advice from the outset was particularly pertinent for people who owned property in heritage areas.

Under heritage controls to protect historic values of a property or area, alterations as simple as painting the house a different colour or changing the guttering can require approval or confirmation the work complies with regulations.

Further information is available at www.armidaleregional.nsw.gov.au/development/planning-controls-and-guidelines, by phoning 1300 13683 or visiting Council’s Armidale or Guyra offices.

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