Glossary of Terms for Building or Renovating:

This list is a brief introduction to some terms used in the planning, approval, and building of your home or renovations.

Local Council:    Your Local Council will need to approve of any development or construction work carried out on your site. They will need plans and specifications prepared showing what the works are that you are planning, whether it is a small extension, a new family home, or a multi-unit development. Depending on the complexity of the works, you may be able to provide a simple hand-drawn plan showing your works. Otherwise either an Architect or Draftsperson will need to prepare plans to the required standard for Council Submission.

Architect:            A person with a University Degree in Architecture. These people or firms are generally experienced in preparing design drawings for houses and renovations. They will usually meet with you and discuss what your ideas are. They will then prepare plans for your review and will revise as needed. They are familiar with Local Council development guidelines and will ensure that what you wish to do complies with relevant requirements. If required they can provide a cost estimate for your development, and even carry out construction supervision and project management for the building. Architects are sometimes portrayed as producing “fancy” designs (not your normal project home style building).

Draftsperson:    These people are usually less qualified than Architects and will provide various levels of detail in preparing your plans. For smaller or more straight-forward projects they can be more cost effective than Architects. They will prepare plans to comply with Local Council guidelines. They are generally less expensive than Architects. They are usually more suited to preparing drawings for more conventional “standard style” buildings or renovations.

Structural Engineer:       They are Engineers with a University Degree in Civil or Structural Engineering. They will generally have experience in different types of construction, with some engineers focussing on residential developments, some on Commercial developments, and others on Industrial Buildings. Residential construction can range from simple additions, to new houses, multi-unit town houses, and multi-story apartment buildings. Structural Engineers will need to design such elements as footings, beams, frames, retaining walls, etc. These elements will need to be signed off to ensure that they are structurally adequate and safe, and will be required prior to obtaining Council approval for your project. You should ensure that your Structural Engineer is competent in the types of works you are carrying out, has adequate Professional Indemnity insurance in case something goes wrong, and that they are a Member of the Institution of Engineers Australia. Depending on which state our are building in, the Engineer may also require additional State-Specific Certification (ie, Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland (RPEQ), Victorian Building Authority (VBA) Membership in Victoria, etc)

Private Certifier:              During construction, various building elements will need to be inspected and certified to ensure that the construction matches the design plans. Such things as footings, frames, waterproofing, drainage, and plumbing need to be inspected during the works. This is the role of Council or alternatively a Private Certifier.

Once you have obtained your Development Approval from your Council, you must decide whether you will engage the Council or a Private Certifier to prepare your Construction Certificate (your “CC”) and carry out the require inspection, before you commence building.

The Private Certifier will inspect your works at various stages to ensure that the works are in accordance with the Architectural plans, Engineers’ details, and other requirements. At completion of the project, they will issue Certification that the works have been carried out in accordance with the Approved Plan, Engineers Details, etc. They will then issue an Occupation Certificate for the works, and you can move in or sell the property without any issues.

To be continued……