You are preparing to build your new home, or more likely have someone build it for you. You need to know many things one of which concerns standards, rules and regulations. Within this topic there are at least three areas of expertise you should know about – state, local and consumer.  To be aware, to have the knowledge at even a layperson’s level, gives you peace of mind, saves time and saves money. Do some reading, ask questions and make your building project a winner.

State governments have statutory authorities and what they say goes. Their documentation is freely available and online. You don’t have to leave home or pay for documents. Each state and territory will create and operate their own building codes. These are statewide regulations and these can be found on your state’s building commission’s [or whatever statutory authority name they use] web page. A typical link would be headed something like Regulations and Legislation. Current issues such as removal of asbestos are the responsibility of state authorities.

But it is your local authority, your local council which controls so many of the specific details concerning permits and the like. The state authority is responsible for the registration of builders but it is the local council which requires you to put out a safety fence whenever building begins. ‘Roads, rates and rubbish” could also include regulations for building new homes.

The third area of interest in this trio is the consumer watchdog. There are groups which exist to help the consumer. They conduct surveys on the way building activities proceed, on materials used in building new homes and on issues where disputes arise over a new building project. A consumer watchdog can have valuable advice and resources for you the consumer.

And although representing builders, the relevant trade association may also be able to help with finding a registered builder.

There are various ‘operators’ in the world of new home building and being aware of them is important. Knowing how to benefit from them could be considered vital so get involved. Often it’s easy because of online information.

State authorities, local councils and consumer groups all have a strong online presence and access is easy. As you read the information, take notes or list questions.

There are rules for almost everything

Control-free building is a myth. Everything to do with clearing land, building houses and access to properties is controlled by one or more sets of regulations. There can be heavy fines for breaches of these regulations. If there is a tree or trees on your land, you may need permission to remove the tree before you start to build.

Even something minor like building a fence requires a permit. Some new homes must have bushfire precautions considered and making your home environmentally friendly is becoming much more of an issue. Insurance and the heating/cooling of your new home can be costly but less so if you build using certain materials. There are regulations which determine the star rating of a new building; the higher the rating the better for you.

But who checks on the regulations?

Most new home owners are not builders or even expert in the quality of construction. How do you know your new home is being well-built? Even if you visit the site and regularly, how do you know if the work done is well done?

You probably won’t know. Yes there are inspectors employed by councils and statutory authorities whose job it is to ensure safety standards have been met. But you can also employ a private inspector, an independent inspector who knows the building trade well. It might be that your builder passes the tests examined by the council inspector but is the building work top quality? An independent inspection can look after standards apart from those in the building codes. You want the best. Engage an expert to make sure you are getting what you pay for.

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