Planning PermitsGetting a planning permit for home improvement projects is not always a simple process. It can take a lot of time, and cost a lot of money, so it is imperative that you follow the required procedures to the letter. Here are some tips on how to make your planning application go through as painlessly as possible.

A. Do You Need a Planning Permit?

Not all home improvement projects need a planning permit, although this can vary between states. Some recommend approaching an architect or building contractor and asking their advice. While some contractors will make the planning application for you this can be costly, since contractors are generally not as interested in your options as you would be yourself.

B. Approach the Local Authority

Many recommend that you do not immediately go to an architect or designer, but approach your local authority and ask exactly what they are looking for in the planning application for your home improvement project. Get it from the lion’s mouth and not second hand.

Explain what you have in mind, and ask what options are open to you. Make sure you have drawings of what you intend doing, and also any information needed on your property boundaries – photographs, deeds, drawings of fence lines and so on. A Google map showing an aerial view of your property would offer useful information.

Your local authority planning department will let you know what permits are required with your planning application, if any.  These could include planning permits, building permits, zoning issues and also keep you informed of any factors relating to public safety.

Also ask about combined permits, and whether or not you have the option to encompass the entire home improvement project under one planning permit. This could save you a lot of money in paying for an individual home improvement permit for each type of work to be carried out.

C.  Existing Planning Permits

Before making your application you should first make sure that any work already completed has the relevant permit. You will likely be asked for the permits of any other work already completed on your property. Your local authority planning department should have this information available.  If no planning permits are available it can be very costly for you to get them after the event!

D. The Planning Application and Your HOA

You might need permission from your Homeowners Association to carry out any exterior home improvement projects – even if your local authority has cleared the work to go ahead. Even if your contractor has arranged your planning permit, you still have to contact the HOA yourself. There may be restrictions on exterior colors, design or even on the sizes of conservatories, garages or sheds.

E.  Using an Architect or Designer

If your local authority or municipality has requested designs or plans for the proposed home improvement project, you should employ a designer or architect to provide these.  Make sure you select one who has a good record of successful applications and request references if possible. Make sure you are involved throughout the entire process, so you can be sure that the procedures are being followed correctly.

Finally. . .

Getting a planning permit for home improvement projects can be a confusing and time-consuming process, but you can make it easier by personally getting involved. Many people leave it to the contractor, although that could cost them more money and success is not guaranteed.

Having the proper planning permits not only keeps you within the law, but also adds to the resale value of your home. Doing much of the initial planning application work yourself speeds up the process, and also gives you the opportunity to cut your costs by cutting down on the number of permit applications you must make.

When applying for planning permits for your home improvement projects you should cooperate with the relevant municipal departments, with your architect or designer and with the contractor carrying out the work, and you will find it easier to achieve your desired results on time and at least cost to yourself.