Residential Building Codes

Phase 1: Permits and Inspections


Before even beginning to think about house plans and related design elements you must first ensure that the property is zoned for residential use. Depending on the area you have selected to purchase your land, there are a variety of different development restrictions, regulations and specifications that need to be considered before planning your home development.

As we mentioned before, the restrictions and rules, and the amount of time it takes to go through this process, varies greatly from region to region, and sometimes even from neighbourhood to neighbourhood. Keep in mind that although there can be variations from region to region most regions still do stick to national building codes as a basis and so it is a good starting point.

As first-time self-builders and designers, we found the process to be extremely time-consuming and complicated, but it is definitely doable if you remain focussed on task and do not feel discouraged when you reach an obstacle. Once you have done your homework and have created the plan, you can take it to an examiner who will verify if what you have designed adheres to code requirements. And most importantly, make sure you have drawn your plans to scale and provide as much detail and description as possible so that the examiner can see that you have taken into consideration building codes and regulations.

When shopping for a house designer/planner look for someone who has experience planning and designing in the area you purchased your lost. This will ensure that you are brining someone in with experience and someone who is familiar with the relevant building codes and regulations. This can save you a lot of time. However, don’t rely entirely on the designer.

Do your own research so you can cover all bases. All of the specifications and plans should be done by a trained and experienced designer. Although it might be costly at first, in the long run it will save you time and money because it will help to minimize unforeseen problems and missed items.

As the self-builder and planner of your home, keep in mind that all of the inspection and approval regulations are there to ensure you are building a safe and healthy home. Properly scheduling inspections will help you avoid delays and problems. When trying to schedule an inspection make sure you have studied what work needs to be completed before the inspector comes, and how long it will take for them to visit you to go through the inspection.

The following is a useful summary that describes what a good building plan will have:

  • A design plan that uses building codes and regulations as the basis; thereafter you can build on the rules.
  • Drawings and sketches that are to scale.
  • Details and descriptions that contain the minimum required information that is needed by your building department.
  • Completed forms and registration/inspection requirements (where applicable).
  • Information that provides to suppliers and sub-trades enough detail so that they can properly supply and install equipment and materials.

If you follow all of the above and have study the regulations of your building department a permit is certain to be granted.