Whether you’re building a new home, renovating an existing property or planning a standalone landscape design project, it’s important that you know from the outset what is required to obtain your certificate of occupancy.
Like most things in life, it all comes down to the fine print.
Not all projects must be submitted to council or body corporate to meet their covenants, and it’s encumbant on you to verify the obligations you must meet to secure that final tick of approval.
At The Garden Planners, too often we hear stories of people in a 12th hour dash, seeking last minute landscape design plans to help get their certificate of occupancy over the line. In some cases they didn’t know it was required as part of their build project, and in others it was simply the last item on their to do list and they had run out of time.
These people can find themselves in hot water for a bunch of reasons and may be unable to move into their new home, or end up with a landscape design that is not practical, well thought out, or that completely blows their budget.
With a little forward planning, these scenarios are easily avoidable.
Here’s our guide to help you avoid falling into this trap.
Early on in the development phase you need to understand what is required of you. The process is so much more involved than simply having plans drawn up for a house and building.
Ask questions early. Does your project specify that a landscape design – commonly referred to as a ‘landscape intent’ – be submitted to council?
Speak to your town planner, developer and builder to find out excatly what is required of you.
Ask for a checklist
In many cases, you’ll be provided with a checklist of what is required. If not, ask for one. Unfortunately landscape design often finds itself right at the bottom of that list, and as a result, it tends to be one of the last things people think about or do. It’s then a huge rush to organise the landscape plan and have it submitted to council.
As early as possible, obtain a checklist, and if it specifies that a landscape ‘design’ or ‘intent’ must be submitted to council, get in touch with a landscape architect.
Engage a landscape designer
Do your research to ensure the company you choose has the qualifications to complete the task.
Look for a reputable company, preferably a member of the Australian Institute of Landscape Design Management (AILDM) with a solid understanding of local conditions, i.e what grows where best.
During your discussions, ensure they can guarantee completion of the project on time so the rest of your development is not delayed.
And most importantly, ensure they are able to complete the project on budget. Your overall budget is incredibly important, as is having a clear understanding of the ‘planning’ budget. How much is a plan really going to cost? Is it going to be practical and affordable?
There’s no point asking your designer to create an unbelievable landscape design that is out of this world, if you can’t actually afford to build it. Getting the budget right at the outset is important in ensuring the plan submitted to council, is the garden that is ultimately built.
And just so you know, when a plan is submitted to council, the majority of the time it will be inspected following construction.
Timing is key
Many people leave the landscape design component of their project until the last minute. It is so important that you have an understanding of the timing required.
At The Garden Planners we guarantee our turn around time. Once we’ve been engaged and the quotation has been accepted, we guarantee when the plan will be submitted.
We tend not to assume responsibility of submitting the plans to council, as it’s more efficient and far less complicated if the client submits them as a portfolio with the rest of their plans. This approach also eliminates the possibility of a breakdown in communication which can occur when a third party is involved during this stage of the process.
Why do councils require a landscape intent?
It’s actually really important. Landscape intents protect the asset of the customer.
Next time you take a drive through a housing estate, take a close look. You’ll very quickly identify those with strict bylaws and covenants based on the requirements of having their landscaping plan submitted to council and receiving approval prior to construction.
Picture the beautiful south eastern suburbs of Melbourne and how they still look fantastic 100 years later. They’ve got these beautiful wide streets, fantastic avenues of trees and green gardens and everyone is really protecting their asset.
By contrast, today we have a situation of first home buyers and others, who are just able to break into the market, using all of their capital on the home, and leaving nothing left for outside.
It’s so important that people avoid falling into this trap and save some capital for landscaping. We need to create those green spaces around our homes, to then create that beautiful open garden feel across our communities that we all want to live in and enjoy.
For more information on a range of landscape design topics, contact Craig at The Garden Planners today on 0438 463 233.