Ask Greg – Additions without council approval

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Q My partner and I are considering buying a house in the area. The main reason we like it is the large covered pergola, which the agent says was built without Council approval. What should we do?

A. I’m sure the solicitor or conveyancer you use would prefer that the property you purchase is ‘squeaky clean’ in this regard. Unfortunately, it is common for properties to have additions or alterations which do not have the appropriate certification or compliance with local authorities.

Contractors who carry out small additions such as carports and pergolas often advise home owners that because the new structure is less than a certain value or size, there is no need to obtain Council approval. This is often not the case; however, occasionally while there is an absence of an application and approval, the structure may comply.

My advice for potential buyers in this situation is to find out what the worst case scenario would be. If the pergola had to come down, would that really change the whole appeal of the home for you? Can you leverage the situation to negotiate a better price that reflects the risk you could be taking?

I get nervous whenever a seller tells me they don’t have the necessary permissions, or that certain aspects of their home do not comply. The downside to that is that if I’m feeling nervous, so will the potential buyers.

So, in a nutshell, get advice and decide if you can live with the worst case scenario, then make a well-informed decision.

Answers are general comment, and readers should always seek their own independent professional advice.

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Greg Trembath is Principal/Licensee at

Greg Trembath Real Estate.
Licensed Real Estate Agent – Licensed Auctioneer.

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