Spending time outdoors is at the heart of Australian culture. The increasing popularity of decks, verandahs, patios and pergolas is testament to the hours spent in the backyard with friends and family over a BBQ or icy drink.
Adding a custom designed pergola to your home is a great way to enjoy those long summer days. Not only does a pergola provide shade and shelter, but it can also enhance the aesthetics of your backyard or home’s landscaping. By increasing the living space, a stylish and functional pergola can essentially boost your home’s value.
But where do you begin? How do you navigate the building regulations and development standards and what planning is involved?
To help make sense of all the information, we’ve developed a guide that will highlight what you need to know before embarking on your pergola project.
1. You may or may not need council approval for a pergola
There can be some confusion as to whether the construction of a pergola requires council approval or not. Council approval for a pergola depends on numerous factors including the size, location and intended use.
It is important to note that even if council approval is not required, building a pergola still needs to adhere to the relevant codes and regulations as set out by the Department of Planning and Environment.
Instances when NSW council approval is NOT required
Generally speaking, you will not require council approval if the future pergola meets all the necessary standards for an exempt development. In fact, other outdoor structures such as decks, verandahs and patios are also seen as exempt developments and can often be built without approval.
There are, however, strict regulations around exempt developments and it’s vital to pay close attention to these specifications.
The regulations state that in order for your pergola to be an exempt development, it must:
- Have an area of 25 m2 or less.
- Ensure the enclosing wall doesn’t exceed 1.4 m.
- Not make the total ground floor area of similar types of structures on the lot exceed:
(a) 15% of the floor area for a plot larger than 300 m2
(b) 25m2 of the floor area for a plot 300 m2 or less
- Adhere to boundary setback rules: For Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5 the pergola must be located at a distance of 5 m from each lot boundary and in all other zones the distance must be 900 mm.
- Where it is constructed with metal components, it must be factory pre-coloured materials that are low reflective.
- Be a floor height of 1 m or less above ground level.
- Where there is a roof attached to the dwelling, it cannot extend beyond the roof gutter line and does not extend higher than 3 m above ground level.
- Adhere to an engineer’s specifications when connected to a fascia.
- Be built in a way where water collected on the roof is eliminated via an existing stormwater drainage system.
- Be constructed with non-combustible materials if the pergola is in an area susceptible to bushfires.
- The pergola must sit behind the building line of the road frontage if it is constructed in a heritage conservation area.
Instances when NSW council approval IS required
Any pergola development that doesn’t meet the criteria for an exempt development is subject to council approval. For example:
- If the pergola isn’t installed at least 5 m away from the boundary fence line or up to less than 900 mm in other areas.
- When it has an area exceeding 25 m2 or a height above 1.4 m.
- It extends beyond the roof gutter lines and beyond 3 m above ground level.
- There is no compliance with the required material or colour specifications.
- There is no adequate drainage system.
- If you need to remove vegetation or trees, contact the local council to see what approval is required.
2. You don’t need a registered builder to install a pergola
It may surprise you to know that a registered builder isn’t required to build a pergola. You can organise the development of a pergola as an owner-builder by getting an Owner Builders License for the value of works that are greater than $10,000.
Bear in mind, that the process may be smoother if you enlist the services of pergola building specialists who are experienced and well versed in managing building regulations and requirements. The ease and safety of having a professional (with access to the best suppliers) take care of the building may end up saving you money in the long run.
3. Consent may be required to build a pergola over an easement in NSW
Easements impact the building process of almost every structure and pergolas are no different. If your pergola is going to be built over an easement or a stormwater drain or sewer asset that belongs to the local government, then permission is required.
You will need to gain consent via a formal application along with the building permit application. It will serve you well to engage a certifier who has the resources and knowledge to do this.
4. Consider the laws of your local government
Most pergolas are seen as exempt developments and do not require permission from councils. Having said that, there are other local government laws and legislation which may restrict the development of your pergola.
These could include laws such as adjoining property rights where you can build your pergola only if it doesn’t interfere in any way with your neighbour’s property. From lighting, noise or an infringement of boundary regulations, your neighbours can have a say in what you build.
Collaborating with the neighbours and receiving their permission to build your pergola will go a long way in achieving a seamless construction process.
5. Electricity and your pergola
Many people include lighting or other motorised features as a standard in the design of their pergola. To ensure compliance with electrical safety regulations, it is best to hire a qualified electrician to complete all the hardwiring.
The optimum time to book your electrician is when the frame of the pergola has been erected. Your builder can work with your electrician to ensure everything is on track.
Thinking about building a pergola in NSW?
Building a pergola creates a valuable extension of your home and provides a great space to enjoy the great outdoors. Council approval regulations can vary and can be complicated. The team at Correct Constructions can help you install your dream pergola and offer the best advice to avoid any delays and save money.
Get in touch with us online here through our enquiry form or call us directly on 0458 888 178 today.