Health & Building Resources

This page gives information and links for information on Building Resources. If you need further advice on a particular building or development a Duty Health and Building Surveyor is available on the Ground Floor of Customer Service Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 12noon or please contact Customer Service on (02) 49349 700.

Easements

An easement is an area of land involved with a specific use of that land. Such uses are often for services such as stormwater drainage, and can also be for services such as powerlines. Each easement has restrictions placed upon it as to whether or not development can occur within that easement, which is decided upon by the consent authority. The consent authority may be Council, a developer, a utility provider or any other body that has caused the creation of an easement. 

Council does not allow development of any type over easements to which it is not the consent authority including retaining walls, pools, concrete slabs, garden sheds, or filling with soil.  Council only allows development over easements to which it is the consent authority if it can be shown with good reason that the purpose for which the easement was created is no longer valid.

Fences

Most boundary fences can be built without requiring Council approval under exempt development provisions. 

A fence height of 1.8 metres is permissible along side and rear boundaries provided the structure does not extend in front of the building line. The building line is generally taken to be the street facing, front wall of the dwelling. These fences can be constructed of a variety of materials but a limitation exists for masonry structures. Brick and similar masonry fences are restricted to a maximum height of 900 mm without the consent of Council.

Front fences being fences erected in front of the building line can have a maximum height of 1200 mm for open structures, ie picket and wire mesh fences. Closed fences, being ‘colorbond’, masonry, paling and other solid structures require Council consent.

Properties fronting more than one street (corner lots, etc) may have side and rear boundary fences as per regular properties fronting only one street. The street facing boundary which runs parallel to the ‘side’ of the house may have the fence placed on that boundary as far forward as the front building line of the house as outlined in yellow in the diagram below. 

 

 1 - Fencing on properties facing more than one street.

In locations where a dwelling on a corner lot is located closer than 6.0 metres to the main property frontage (street 1) a site inspection is to be arranged with a Council officer to determine potential pedestrian and traffic risk. These situations are likely to occur in older town areas where minimum building lines have been established. 

Retaining Walls

Retaining walls are becoming continually more popular, particularly with new home builders, but also for those looking to revamp the backyard. They can create aesthetically pleasing lines in gardens, and offer a great way to break up the backyard.

Retaining walls, like any development require Council approval. Some can be built under exempt development providing they are not higher than 900mm from natural ground level, and comply with the conditions of the ‘Exempt Development Checklist’, available for download here.

The weight of soil behind a retaining wall can create massive hydrostatic pressure, in some cases, causing poorly designed walls to collapse. For this reason, any retaining wall over 900mm from natural ground level requires engineers certification be submitted with an application for a construction certificate.

Council also requires that retaining walls on boundaries do not exceed 900mm if retaining cut, and 600mm if retaining fill as shown in the diagram below.

 

For more information regarding Council requirements for a retaining wall, please contact Council's Duty Building Surveyor.

 

Water Tanks

Australia is a dry continent and we all have a responsibility to conserve water. Roof collection of rain water provides a great alternative supply for gardens, car washing, pool top up, etc. The NSW Department of Health recommends that rainwater from tanks not be used for human consumption where a reticulated town supply is available.

On land zoned 2(a) Residential water tanks up to 10,000 litres (or 25,000 litres on land which contains a shcool) can be installed without approval providing they comply with Council's Exempt Development checklist.  A copy of the checklist can be found on the Exempt and Complying Development page of Council's website.

It is important that all tanks are installed in accordance with manufacturer's specifications.  Particular attention needs to be given to the supporting base upon which the tank will be located.  Every 1000 litres of water weighs 1000 kilograms and as many tanks can contain a considerable amount of water, proper base preparation is essential.  This will ensure the tank does not lean or topple or cause damage to pipe/drainage lines.  Additionally, tanks should not impede access for building/fence maintenance or inspection as this may lead to problems later on.

The overflow from a tank is required to be disposed of in an approved manner, so as not to cause a flooding or nuisance problem to adjoining properties.  In most cases this will mean connecting the overflow into an approved stormwater system for disposal to the street gutter or to a drainage easement.

New houses and certain additions and alterations are required to provide water tanks under current legislative provisions (known as BASIX). In the interest of conserving water the tanks are connected to laundries, toilets and garden taps. Town water is used to ‘top up’ the tanks to ensure continuous supply is maintained in dry times. Owners of existing houses can provide similar systems however it is important to note that the work must be carried out by a licensed plumber to ensure a safe supply and to prevent contamination of the town water supply. The BASIX website can be accessed by clicking here.

Further advice on water tanks, whether or not a property is ‘environmentally sensitive', etc may be obtained from Council's Environmental Health and Building Surveyor.

Smoke Alarms

House fires can spread quickly and are very dangerous to human life.  Smoke alarms are an effective early warning device and are easy to install.  All new dwellings require smoke alarms be installed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).  On 1 May 2006 an amendment to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation came into force which also required all existing dwellings be fitting with smoke alarms.

New Dwellings

The BCA requires all new dwellings have smoke alarms that comply with AS3786 installed on every storey of the dwelling.  Smoke alarms should be installed between each area containing bedrooms and the remainder of the house.  In storeys not containing bedrooms a smoke alarm should be installed in the vicinity of the stairway.  Care should be taken to ensure that smoke alarms are not installed in areas of dead-air.  More details of installation positions can be found in the BCA.

Existing Dwellings

Existing dwellings are now required to have smoke alarms installed with the same placement requirements as new dwellings.

Types of Smoke Alarms & How to Avoid Burnt Toast Screeching

There are two types of smoke detectors.  The first type is called a photoelectric smoke detector which works using a light source and a photocell.  Smoke entering the smoke detector disrupts the light beam between the light source and photocell, causing the alarm to sound.  The second type of smoke detector is the ionisation smoke detector.  Ionisation smoke deterctors have a small amount of radioactive material which creates a current that runs through ionised air.  Smoke entering the detector disrupts the current runnning through the ionised air causing the alarm to sound.  Normal household activities may cause an alarm to sound, such as steam from a bathroom, or smoke from burnt toast.  Smoke alarms should be located away from areas where these activities take place.  In areas where this is not possible, ionisation type alarms are more suitable near bathrooms, whereas photoelectric type alarms are more suitable near cooking appliances.

Balustrades

Balustrades are required on the side of any verandah, balcony, mezzanine, stairway, ramp, corridor, or the like which is not bounded by a wall, and is more than 1m above the surface beneath.

Balustrades on stairs, ramps and the like must be a minimum of 865mm above the nosing of the stair treads or the ramp.

Verandahs, balconies and the like must have a balustrade of at least 1m above the floor.

Any opening in a balustrade must restrict a 125mm sphere from passing through that opening.

Floors greater than 4m above the surface beneath must not have any horizontal elements that facilitate climbing between 150mm and 760mm above the floor.

Horizontal Wire Balustrades

Horizontal wire balustrades are allowable on floors up to 4m in height.  The following table shows what type of wire can be used for different post spacing and wire spacing combinations.  Types of wire are specified by both the lay of the wire and the overall thickness of the wire.  For example, a 3mm thick wire with 7 strands of wire with 7 wires in each strand would be written as 7x7 (3mm).  The information in the table below is based on Table 3.9.2.1 of the Building Code of Australia (BCA) Volume 2, and is provided as a guide only.  Users are referred to the table below in the BCA for further details on wire tension and deflection as well as for wire made of material other than stainless steel.

 

Post Spacing (mm)

Wire Spacing (mm)

60

80

100

600

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

800

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

900

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1000

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

1200

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1500

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1800

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

-

2000

7x7 (2.5mm)

1x19 (2.5mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

1x19 (3mm)
7x19 (4mm)

-

2500

7x7 (2.5mm)

7x7 (3mm)

7x7 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

1x19 (4mm)

7x19 (4mm)

-

Building In A Bushfire Prone Area

Trees and forests are a vital part of the environment and provide a tranquil setting for both people and animals.  Trees also result in properties being at a higher risk from bushfire.

The result for people wishing to build in a bushfire prone area varies depending on a number of variables including the proximity to significant vegetation, the type of vegetation, and the slope of the land.  All development applications for single dwellings located in a bushfire prone area require a bushfire assessment be performed.  As a result of this assessment bushfire construction requirements may be imposed on the proposed dwelling.

More information on building on land mapped as bushfire prone can be found on the Rural Fire Servide website here.  Relevant documents include Planning for Bushfire Protection and the 'Single Dwelling Application Kit'.

Front Property Boundary

Between the front boundaries of properties is an area of land called a road reserve.  This area of land can obtain elements such as roads, footpaths, street trees and services.  However these usually do not take up the entire road reserve.  Importantly, the area between the front boundary of a property and the back of the kerb is called the footway.  Please click on the link below as the diagram shows a typical residential street. 

Footway Width (PDF - 35kb)

The road reserve is not a set width, nor is the road always in the centre of the road reserve.  This means that the footway area varies in size from street to street, and sometimes even in the same street.  Property boundaries including front property boundaries can be established from existing survey pegs or recent site surveys.  However where there is any doubt, a surveyor can mark out the boundary lines by referring to state surveying marks.

Asbestos

Then handling and removal of asbestos and asbestos containing materials is a regulated activity and must be carried out in accordance with certain guidelines.  The link below provides access to fact sheets on asbestos prepared by the WorkCover Authority of NSW:

The following website also contains useful information about asbestos and how to safely manage asbestos in and around the home.