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Covenants & Overlays:

There are numerous types of restrictive Covenants and Overlays that may be in force relating to the land you wish to build upon.
It is always advisable to check with the Local Council and to also refer to the Certificate of Title to determine what restrictions may be in place before purchasing a property.

Local Councils through their Planning Departments have the authority to put in place any Overlays that they feel are necessary to 'ensure that important aspects of the land are recognised'.
For example in Victoria there are approximately 22 types of overlays including Heritage, Wildfire Management, Erosion, and Significant Landscape.
The provisions of any overlay encompassing your building site must be adhered to.

Some of the most encountered Overlays include -

A Heritage Overlay for example may stipulate options within a range of colours that must be used on the exterior of the home.
If using corrugated roofing iron, a zincalume finish may not be allowed.

Wildfire Management Overlays refer back to the Building Code of Australia and AS3959 which nominates varying levels of protection required to be incorporated into the exterior of the dwelling depending upon the catagorised threat level. This can have an influence on the material types for the exterior of your home.

Vegetation Protection Overlay

Environmental Significance Overlay

Land Subject to Inundation Overlay
Generally stipulates a minimum height above ground level for the floor level of the proposed dwelling.
i.e. a concrete slab on ground dwelling may not be practical in some situations.

Erosion Management Overlay

Significant Landscape Overlay

Restrictive Covenants may be in place on particular sites and can be a real awakening for unsuspecting buyers.
Many subdivisions, even going back 20 or 30 years, can have covenants that were put in place by the developers to limit the type of home that could be constructed on the land. A popular covenant was to stipulate brick veneer with tiled roof type construction. This minimised the possibility of sites not as yet sold, being reduced in value or appeal by a ‘lower standard’ of neighbouring homes.

Councils cannot issue a building permit for a construction type that does not comply to the covenant.
For example if you looked to construct a Harditex rendered home, which is quite popular providing the scope to produce good architectural designs and is indistinguishable from rendered brick, in a brick veneer covenant area, then you would be disappointed.
Similarly a colorbond steel roof in an area covered by a tile roof covenant would not be permitted.

Under some circumstances it is possible to have a covenant changed .
Councils will accept designs if you have approval from everyone affected by the covenant.  If the original subdivision had 800 sites, in most cases you would be required to send registered letters to each home.
One objection would be enough to stall your building project.

Covenants have caught many people by surprise and should be one of the major items looked at when selecting land.

 

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