Get to know the processes involved in building, buying or renovating different types of homes in the ACT.
There may be different processes and requirements depending on whether you are:
- buying an apartment or townhouse off the plan
- building a new home
- buying an existing home
- renovating a property you already own
Building 101 explains things you should expect during the design and build process, and things you might need to do so your project complies with ACT laws.
Create your wish list
Before you begin searching for a new home or contacting designers or builders, write a wish list to capture your building or renovation ideas and requirements. This will help you, your builder and other people you engage understand your expectations throughout the project.
When developing your wish list, consider:
- your lifestyle now and into the future
- the useable area of your site and features such as slopes
- best use of views and open spaces around your home
- the size of your development and number of rooms
- your storage requirements
- quality and cost of building materials
- use of natural daylight, solar aspect and energy efficiency
- access to active transport, neighbourhood facilities and services
- urban and neighbourhood design impact
It is a good idea to prioritise your wish list as your budget and your site may not be appropriate for everything you want. Regardless of what is on your list, any new building work will need to meet the minimum standards for safety, health, amenity and sustainability that apply to the work.
You can get ideas for the design and internal features of your new home or renovation from industry bodies and attending display houses, showrooms and expos. Make sure you ask whether any products and materials you are considering can be used for the purpose you want and meet any relevant regulations and standards.
You could engage an architect or building designer to help with the design of your home.
General design information is available from the Your Home website.
Design requirements, codes and standards
New buildings, alterations and additions to existing buildings including plumbing, gasfitting and electrical work, will need to meet required standards for safety, health, amenity and sustainability.
Find out more about codes and standards that may apply to your project.
Access building files
You may need to access existing building files before you extend or renovate.
The owner of a block, or someone you give consent to, can access files by:
- filling out the Building File Search Form
- visiting Access Canberra’s Customer Service Centre at Mitchell with photographic ID and, if you are not the land owner, a letter of consent from the owner
An application fee applies for all building file searches. Copies of plans/documents vary in price depending on the size of the document.
As a land owner, it is your responsibility to:
- make sure relevant approvals, including development applications, building approvals and other types of approval specific to your project, are sought at the right time
- appoint a building certifier
- pay certain fees in time
- check people you hire have the right licences and insurance to do the work and check the disciplinary register
- communicate your requirements to people you hire
Find out more about:
- if you need approval
- details about your block
- your responsibilities during construction as a land owner or an owner-builder
- buying into strata living
- dealing with disputes and complaints
- land rates, duties and schemes
Contact us for more information.