Stage 1 - Research
1. Check with the building commission
There’s little point getting excited over a knockdown-rebuild if the local building commission won’t let you. Most councils have strict rules in relation to knockdown-rebuilds, as they can impact the wider community. If you’re living in a historical district, it’s highly likely that your home can’t be demolished.
The simplest way to assess whether you can do a knockdown-rebuild is to call the “planning and building” section of your local council. Although council websites usually provide information, it’s best to discuss your requirements with a council specialist. Provided you’re allowed to do a knockdown-rebuild, a direct call will help you understand what permits and approvals are required.
Stage 2 - Advice
2. Get expert advice
Once the Council has given you a tentative greenlight, you’ll need to hire an experienced building professional – someone with an in-depth understanding of council regulations and processes. Such a person could be a structural engineer, a certified town planner or an experienced builder (the one ultimately building your home). Many large national building companies – like G.J. Gardner Homes – provide expert assistance in this area.
An experienced building professional should not only provide advice, but assist with organizing the various permits and approvals required for the project. As part of their evaluation process, they’ll seek to ascertain the following:
Are there any front boundary setbacks and easements on your property?
Do any council overlays or covenants exist on your property?
Will the knockdown-rebuild disrupt traffic in your street? – If so, a traffic management plan could be required.
Does your new house design overlook or overshadow any neighbors?
Will the property’s public access point (which could be shared with neighbors) change in any way?
Which utilities (gas, water, electricity, telephone) require disconnection and removal?
Do any large trees require removal? – A separate council permit may be required.
As you’re probably starting to realize, getting expert advice during the early stages of a knockdown-rebuild is crucial.
Stage 3 - Organize
3. Organize the demolition
If you’re dealing with a smaller builder, you may be required to find your own demolition contractor. A good small builder will usually refer you to an accredited demolition specialist – one that’s licensed to conduct demolitions and remove asbestos (if necessary). You’ll be required to provide the demolition specialist with a copy of your demolition permit from the council.
Prior to the demolition, your demolition specialist will need to notify the various utility companies (gas, water, electricity, telephone) of your intentions. It’s imperative to give the utility companies enough time to disconnect and remove their infrastructure.
Once the demolition is under way, it’s the demolition specialist’s responsibility to remove all the waste material – from the house materials (concrete, timber, metal, glass) to the vegetation (trees, root systems, excess soil). Some demolition specialists will offer to salvage and recycle the materials being removed – a service that sometimes reduces the demolition cost.
All demolition projects require a Permit and a temporary site fence (to protect the public). Once the demolition is completed, your builder can then start preparing the site for construction.