Purchasing Property

It pays to do your research before you buy.

Knowledge is power, and never more so than when you are purchasing a property. Most people hit open houses with an idea of what they are looking to buy - 3 bedrooms with perhaps a nice yard with room for a shed or a pool or maybe it’s a large block of vacant land with the potential to build or subdivide.

But before you make an offer it pays to do a little extra research to make sure there are no hidden surprises.

Planning, zoning, overlays and infrastructure can have a major impact on what you can, or cannot, do with a property. Therefore you want to be sure that whatever applies to your property is workable for your plans both now and down the track. A little research into building or planning approvals can help you avoid: additional costs to bring the property up to code; issues with insurance; and impacts to property value or resale potential. Of course, rules and regulations do change over time and you can’t fully future proof against that, but you can check what currently applies to the property.

Firstly, look at zoning. Zones basically help Councils organise the area they govern. They use zones to outline the acceptable, or “preferred”, land uses. Zones are mapped out and have different levels of assessment. The criteria and intent for a particular zone is laid out in its Zone code.

The zone your property is within can affect your future plans. For example, if you plan to develop your large residential property block into 3 storey townhouses this may not be approved if your property is in the low-density residential zone. If you’re not sure Gideon Town Planning can look into this for you.

Overlays are also important to be aware of when considering a property. Essentially overlays identify areas that have sensitivities, constraints on land use, valuable resources or special development opportunities – these overlays include bushfire, flood, scenic amenity and more.

It is also wise to check what infrastructure is located on the premises. Water, sewer and stormwater pipes and connections may be located in or around the property. An online search can be undertaken or alternatively council or Gideon Town Planning can assist.

Buyers should also be wary of claims that a property has existing planning approvals. Give us a quick call or conduct a fact check and verify this for yourself. There would be nothing worse than believing you can develop a site with an existing DA, only to find this to be untrue or not as described.

So why should you care about zones, plans and overlays? Because they can impact what approvals may be required for a residential project. The same applies to commercial, rural or industrial properties. A straightforward renovation, for example a new deck over a sewer line, could become a lengthy and potentially costly exercise.

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