- Develop

Preparatory work prior to construction

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Once the plans for your house have been drawn up for the block you have bought, you can enter into a contract with your preferred builder to undertake preparatory work only.

This agreement is generally not a contract to build but you should check that this is the case.

The purpose of undertaking preparatory work is to give you a good idea about the basic costs of building your house. However, it is not a final cost, as some actual costs may only become apparent once the surveys are completed and engineering details are known. You should discuss this matter with your builder.

The written agreement should also set out the type of preparatory work that will be done for you. This may include general inspection of the block to note any special requirements that need to be taken into consideration or consideration of the site conditions and the likely costs of preparing the foundation. Other factors that should be considered include preparation of any special structural engineering details and preparation of detailed drawings and specifications.

The fee for undertaking the preparatory work should be included in the agreement, but there may be provision for this fee to be varied for difficult or unusual sites. The fee for undertaking the preparatory work for a Preparation of Plans Agreement is normally not refundable. However, some builders may agree to deduct the fee you have paid them for the deposit payable, if you later agree to sign a building contract with that builder.

Make sure you read the Preparation of Plans Agreement carefully and get independent legal advice before you sign.

It should be noted that the Preparation of Plans Agreement does not generally give you copyright over the plans.

It should also be noted that some Preparation of Plans Agreements allow the builder to make applications for a local authority building license and for Water Corporation approval. Consider before signing whether you want to incur the expense of such approvals at this stage, or delete this clause and check that these tasks form part of the building contract.

Beware of any forms that commit you to signing a building contract with the builder at a later stage.

Planning and development approval

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Planning approval involves a general overview of the proposed development to determine whether it meets the requirements of the council as laid out in the Development Act. Items to consider when lodging an application for Planning Approval include:

Site Coverage & Floor Areas - this limits how much the block can be covered by buildings

Private Open Space - an area of open yard which is private and useable should be provided

Car Parking & Driveways - areas must be provided for cars to park off the street

Building Appearance - the new home should meet the desired character of the area

Energy Efficiency - all new houses must have a 6 star energy rating to minimise energy use

Site Frontage Widths - ensure the new house has a desirable visual appeal from the street

Front Setbacks - this is the distance from the front boundary to the closest part of the house

Side Setbacks - are important to ensure adequate daylight to side windows

Rear Setbacks - ensure the new dwelling has a useable outdoor area in the backyard.

Other items that may also have to be considered include:

Building Height

Stormwater Drainage

Easements and Encumbrances

Significant Trees

Once planning consent is received, full working drawings and construction information can then be prepared and submitted for Building Rules Consent and full Development Approval.

As the information required to submit an application can be quite extensive it is advisable that an appropriate professional assist to ensure that the information supplied is comprehensive and complete. This will ensure that the application process occurs smoothly and approval can occur in the least possible amount of time.

Applications to planning are often made by either the builder or by using a Development Consultant. During the initial stages of the development application process the builder may not have been chosen. In this case the Development Consultant may assist with processing the application and provide guidance with evaluating and negotiating with the builder once approval has been given.

Lodging a development application

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When lodging an application for subdivision you first must lodge an application with the Development Assessment Commission (DAC). Once an application is lodged with DAC they will then send copies of the application to the Council

as well as all the relevant government agencies and authorities which provide utilities and services to the block ( e.g. SA Water, ETSA, Transport SA). The Council and relevant authorities will then determine what requirements they may have in respect to the application and forward their comments back to DAC for further clarification or amendments.

Once the Council and authorities have determined that the land division is appropriate Conditional Development Approval may be given subject to further conditions and requirements which must be satisfied.

At the satisfactory fulfilment of these additional conditions and requirements the Council will then advise DAC that it has no further objections to the issue of a certificate for the purpose of creating new titles for the development. Other relevant authorities will do the same once their requirements have also been met.

The Commission will then issue a Certificate of Approval which is lodged with the Registrar-General of the Lands Titles Office. The New Certificates can then be issued.

The time it takes from first application to the issuing of new titles will vary depending on the size and complexity of the development however standard subdivision from 1 into 2 blocks will usually take about 12 months to complete.

Know your property's value

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Before considering whether to develop your property it is essential that you have an understanding of the current value of your property. This will allow you to compare any gains in value as a result of the development process and determine which options will maximise your returns.

There are a number of ways to determine the current value of your property, however the most common method is to compare your property to recent sales in your area and make any adjustments to value due to items included or not included in the comparison property.

Many homeowners may determine the value of their properties by looking at other properties available for sale in their area. However this method may not give the most accurate estimate as often the price that properties are marketed for do not necessarily represent the actual price that the property is sold for.

Many local real estate agents offer a no obligation free appraisal of the current value of your property. Agents will provide you with properties which have sold in your area, including the price it sold for and the number of days the property was on the market. This value can be then used as a suitable starting point prior to embarking on the development process.

How to lodge a land subdivision

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If your intention is to subdivide your property to allow you to build multiple dwellings then an application must first be made to the Development Assessment Commission (DAC).

The following information must be submitted with an application for land division:

A completed Development Application Form

Relevant Fees

Nine copies of the proposed land division plan drafted in accordance with requirements outlined in the Development Regulations

Two current copies of the Certificate of Title

As the requirements for land division plans are very specific most applications for land divisions are prepared and submitted by a licensed surveyor on your behalf.

If the land division relates to houses that you intend to build on the land it is recommended that you lodge a Development Application for the proposed development with the Council prior to lodging an application for land division with DAC. This will demonstrate that the newly subdivided blocks are of the appropriate size, shape and orientation to cater for your intended purpose.