Built a Single Carport, Neighbour Complained. Council Says I Have to Demolish It

Hi fellow OzB.

This is my first post ever. Please be nice.

I have recently erected a single car carport and a slab to support it on my property in my backyard and apparently the neighbour has directly complained to the council and i had a surprise visit from them just after new years.

This is my first ever property, only lived here since September 2020. I thought I got got along with the neighbour with small talk etc, but I guess not and did me a dirty, and since then he won't even look at me :( or say hi

During the visit of the council member, I was told I have to demolish the carport and the slab under it and addition, unrelated to the complaint to also demolish the small shed and the slab under that (already there when bought the property). As they said I needed council approval for such structures. According to NSW legislation I have to have everything 900mm away from the fence. But it would be impossible for me to build a carport in anyway if so…

The only thing that annoys me is that the neighbour has bigger and more structures in their backyard which is very close or actually on the fence, and they don't have approval for them. (Checked online). They have a massive carport in front of their house, a garage, shed and pergola.

I have consulted with some professionals to draft and help complete a Development Approval and they quoted me $4000+ which is more than half of what the project costed.

I was writing this just in case someone had a similar experience, and if I am getting rekt by all sides. Thank you for reading this.

  • UPDATE 1. I was able to find a quote for $1500 draftsman and survey combined. Plus council fees…. A much better quote.
    Will keep you updated with the outcome.

  • Update 2. I have demolished it (taken it down), additional expenses to the DA made it almost cost the carport, thank you for Ur kind advice and suggestions. Sydney is a great place to live with neighbours that get along perfectly. Thank you Bankstown council…

Poll Options

  • 53
    Pay the contractors for the DA
  • 1231
    Do the dirty back on the neighbour
  • 19
    Demolish everything
  • 9
    Do nothing maybe council will forget :) /other

Comments

        •  

          We had an architect do plans for a deck/backyard/balcony/staircase renovation (due to heritage restrictions) but then had to extend a couple of screening walls slightly during construction due to post placement. Our building surveyor signed off on it as-built because the changes were so minor.

          A neighbour complained about something unrelated – a fence in a separate part of the property that was replaced as-is and wasn't required to be part of the permit – so they sent a council inspector over, who didn't care at all about the complaint that was made, but told us we had to submit an amendment to the permit showing the changes to the screens.

          I literally took the plans that had been approved in the original permit, and drew red lines where the original walls ended and green lines where they'd been extended and added a note with the new lengths of the walls. It was accepted straight away and aside from the $1k amendment fee was painless.

  • +5 votes

    Have a look at a Complying Development instead of a DA. Should be cheaper and faster and bypasses the council

  • +2 votes

    Obviously didn't occur to you that you would need a building (and possibly planning) permit to erect the structure. In most instances, and if it is possible, rather than demolish the entire structure the council will let you make modifications in order to comply with code.

    •  

      They didn't provide me this option to modify. Everything else complies except the 900mm rule. If i were to move it, there would be a post in the middle of the drive way making the structure useless, thus deemed non complying again.. (driveway is on the boundary)

      • +3 votes

        Councils are bigger [biggest] effwits, that this neigbour of his.

        • +3 votes

          They're pretty corrupt in a lot of places, and they have no accountability.

      • +4 votes

        I don't know how many more times this needs to be said but you can absolutely build a carport within 900mm of a boundary.

        Take this to the ombudsman.

        •  

          I don't know how many more times this needs to be said but you can absolutely build a carport within 900mm of a boundary.

          first time i heard this :o

          Take this to the ombudsman.

          which Ombudsman

  • +21 votes

    Yes the neighbour is being petty.
    But unfortunately the due dilligence at the end of the day falls with you.
    Better that the council picked up on it now than at the point of sale when the buyer could quite easily get out of the sale due to the non-conforming structures.

    You can file a retrospective approval, but if it's not to code then it's not to code.

    Their garage may have been approved at the same time as their house, thus not needing separate approval as an extension (which yours would fall under)

    Just because someone else is also in the wrong doesn't mean what you've done is kocher.

  • +3 votes

    The only thing that annoys me is that the neighbour has bigger and more structures in their backyard which is very close or actually on the fence, and they don't have approval for them. (Checked online). They have a massive carport infront of their house, a garage, shed and pergola. Double standard..

    Why don't you make the same complaint about him if they are unapproved structures? Also in NSW there is a concept called exempt and complying development, if you satisfy the standards under that, you don't need approval and you can just do the work.

    •  

      Council said they had to respond to the complaint, otherwise they wouldn't really care bcoz its low impact job, but they had to go to the next level as requested, and said if you would like to complain about neighbors stuff you have to call etc

  • -3 votes

    So what was the (profanity) next door complaining about? Anything legitimate or is he just being a dick?

    And what's with the council criminals? "Yeah you have to destroy your own private property 'just cos' but if you pay us some extortion money we'll let you build it again"?

    ffs….

    • +3 votes

      I only got from the council member, "complaint for "too close to the fence"", but upon inspection was not encroaching over boundary.

      I have nothing to say about the neighbor bcoz im new to the neighborhood, and i've only said hello once or twice. I would appreciate he would discuss this with me by knocking on the door like a normal neighbor, then i can then make amendments, but since he made formal complaint, i can't do anything else but demolish it or seek approval..

      I feel the same as u with the council. There are some laws that hinder us and make normal life hard. Victoria state law is pretty cool, basically do whatever u want in your backyard for anything <25m squared.

  • +1 vote

    check the regulations, mistakes can be made on Councils part. Might need to check where the actual boundary is and the rules related to it. Where I am, there needs to be a fire gap between structures. We are only good because the neighbor didn't build close to the fence…

  • +11 votes

    This is what concerns me about moving soon…. I've been lucky with the last 3 places I've lived, had awesome neighbours.. but these stories make me want move to an island with nobody else on it..

    • +8 votes

      haha i was feeling the same, some people just have nothing else better to do and cause harm bcoz it doesn't sit right with them (cough karen's).. how do ppl live this way?

      my other neighbor is awesome, he was like, "why would u want to do that to ur own neighbor? not even a big deal for something small and it actually looks good".

      • +1 vote

        my other neighbor is awesome, he was like, "why would u want to do that to ur own neighbor? not even a big deal for something small and it actually looks good".

        plot twist your other neighbor did it, and has been spreaqding rumors to the neighboor who is now shunning you

  • +1 vote

    Maybe report the neighbor for the exact same stuff they reported you for?

  •  

    Both my neighbour and I have carports within 900mm of our shared fence, hopefully nobody snitches on us.

    • +3 votes

      Purely for research purposes, may i have your neighbour’s address?

    •  

      That would be scary, imagine someone in the neighbourhood hates ppl and decides to snitch to the council for every house with garages and carports. Will council raid its own community for DA's?

  • +14 votes

    So you built a structure without council approval? Your neighbour commented to your tradie about it, they failed to mention to you about said comment, subsequently completed the structure and the neighbour dobbed your in?

    Perhaps the neighbour should have approached you personally about it, but perhaps they saw them speaking to the tradie as sufficient? and the structure still being completed as you ignoring said comments/not giving a shit about their concerns (even though you never heard about it until after the fact).

    I think your tradie has as much to answer for here, for a) not passing on the comments, and b) not querying whether the structure was approved or not.

    I can understand that not everyone knows the approvals process for structures, especially if new to property ownership, but I would have expected the tradie to have at least queried it (often the company building the structure lodges the DA as part of the contract in my experience here in SA). Guess this might be a case where the cheapest option was the cheapest for a reason?

    As much as it's frustrating there is a purpose to the DA process, it allows the council/government an opportunity to review the design, ensure its safety (fire, wind rating for area etc.), ensure that it's not going on top of any easements etc. and also that your structure is compliant with all the rules/legislation. It also considers the impact that the structure may have on surrounding land users/owners… You may have been able to get a dispensation to go within the 900mm of the boundary - there may have been design requirements because of it though. Did they give any opportunities for applying for approval after the fact on what you have built? using as-built drawings? or was it just demo and re-lodge a new structure?

    Just because you can't find the approvals for the neighbours structures it doesn't mean they were not approved, they may have been approved with the primary residence, or before the online system was there…feel free to complain to council and have them check. I think if it was that neighbour that complained they would be pretty damn stupid to do so if they had unapproved structures themselves.

    • +3 votes

      I only found out the neighbor said something to the tradie after the fact the council member came by, i called him right away, the only thing he mentioned that "he thought" wasn't a problem because it should be auto exempt for under 25m squared in area for NSW. But may have missed the fine print. I can't blame since it's now already built and is in my backyard, but he offered to make amendments if declined by council.

      Council straight up said u gotta demolish it, the other thing the council member said "ill let the small shed and slab slide i didnt see it", but then still included it the letter???? I had to prompt the member during the call, as he didn't even suggest DA etc. I had to ask "is there any alternative?", then he was like "oh right yes, u can also lodge a DA", then i asked how do it do this, they said "get someone to do it for you", i asked who can help, "you will have to find this out yourself"??????

      Council says there's a problem, but no guide to solution..

      • +9 votes

        That's a bit rude on the shed! Their attitude in general seems pretty poor. It drives me insane when they could easily give you the answer but instead direct you off with no guidance - find this a lot with councils, too scared of legal issues to actually be helpful/provide guidance. Some councils have weekly walk-in sessions, or phone appointments where you can talk with an appointed "specialist" who can answer questions, might be worth seeing if that is an option and seeing if they can provide some guidance with a retrospective approval.

        You should definitely be able to do the DA for such a minor structure yourself, especially if your tradie can help with drawings etc. It's not uncommon with people buying shed/carport kits for DIY jobs.
        I recommend looking at the state gov Dept of Planning websites more than individual councils, I find across many states that they generally have a lot of good information.

        Good luck! I really hope you can get it sorted without having to demo!!

      •  

        That council member sounds like a complete (profanity). Wow.

  •  

    What happens if you do nothing?

    •  

      fines for $3000 per day for non compliance

      • +24 votes

        per day…. gtfo of here wow.

      • +1 vote

        Man wtf
        Chil council chill

      •  

        What the hell!

      •  

        Wow.
        What about Public holidays, or days it's taken the council to respond? If they never respond, you'd be liable to pay $3,000 forever?

  • +4 votes

    Accidently clicked on the wrong poll option
    -1 for demolish
    +1 for do the dirty on the neighbour

  • +1 vote

    Give your neighbours the taste of their own medicine. Complain council! Now!

  • +1 vote

    we need a picture of both the properties to give the best advice!

    • +7 votes

      Ms paint would be preferable.

  • +8 votes

    It's not a da you need to lodge, it's a BC or building certificate application.

    The council guy is giving you wrong advice like I see quite often, you can't get a DA consent on works already completed.

    If you still have adequate landscaped area, and is not causing impact on the neighbours it's unlikely they will still require demolition.

    A carport within 900 of the boundary only needs to be non combustible, not fire rated.
    .

    • +1 vote

      A survey report is needed(-$1000*) though plus the application fee is around $250?

    •  

      My building certificate form states "Development approval is required for all class 1-9 unauthorised work(s), prior to submitting this application.".. in RED. Council says otherwise.. :(

      •  

        What council is it?

        •  

          Different councils require you to get a DA, whereas some are happy to deal with it entirely under the BC

          •  

            @Harby7: I guess you could apply for DA, it would be 'approved in principle' but ultimately rejected as the carport is already built, DA approval cannot technically be approved if the work is already done. Then you would take the DA and apply for the building certificate.

            •  

              @pondlet: I agree with this approach, however I know that some councils make you take this route. I figure they're approving 'use' and any other works that may be required to bring it up to compliance with either planning controls/building codes (if substantial and therefore requiring a CC. minor works can be undertaken under the building certificate at the direction of council). In the approved DA, they'd then condition a BC be obtained (and this ultimately enforced by the Compliance team in the form of their Order).

              •  

                @Harby7: Exactly, DA for the use, BIC for the structure.

  • +2 votes

    We better get an update when neighbour cops it.

  • +1 vote

    Do the dirty back and when his gets demolished, ask him "Hey sport, doing an upgrade I see?".

  • +4 votes

    See you on ACA in a few years I suppose?

    • +5 votes

      Haha when one of the contractors came over to look at the carport, they said council is really playing hard ball these days, especially during covid, people want to do a lot of home improvements since everyone wfh and they want some of the money as well.

      • +1 vote

        Greedy buggars

  • +3 votes

    Please update this thread in the future with the outcome

  • +2 votes

    @Siri @Alexa @Google please send me an update once the OP posts back that neighbour demolishes back half of their house due to noncompliant structural works.

  • +4 votes

    Yea don't know why you wouldn't just straight away report the neighbours to the council as well. Fk em

  • +2 votes

    a DA for a carport should not cost you $4K. Have you contacted a few Private certifiers to give you a quote?

  • +1 vote

    How big is the car port you built..
    Can you use it as garden shed to get away from getting the approval(if within the appropriated sizing…)

  • +2 votes

    SHOULD HAVE DONE YOUR RESEARCH BUT yes very mean by the neighbour, I'm sure numerous people have got different structures without permission, and yes why not DOB him in just the same……

  • +4 votes

    Sorry to say this, but if you have not built according to rules then take action now.

    Maybe your neighbour doesn’t want your vehicle close to their fence, it could be the sound from your vehicle or the smoke, or something else.

    I suppose your neighbour thinks it’s easier to let the council manage the issue rather than himself. Maybe I would have done the same.

    Your neighbour may have bigger structures and maybe they have got permission/approval from the council.

    • +3 votes

      Haha the funny thing is, I don't even have a car..yet, 100% delaying my purchase.

      • -7 votes

        You spent $8,000 on a carport but don't have a car? What's the logic behind that? Used for other things?

        • +11 votes

          I was planning to buy a car just after new years, but since I got this new years surprise, what's the hurry. I just wanna get this sorted before I can move on with life.

        • +2 votes

          To be fair if I had to keep a car out in the elements I think I'd prefer to build something to protect it first and then buy the car.

    •  

      Maybe your neighbour doesn’t want your vehicle close to their fence, it could be the sound from your vehicle or the smoke, or something else.

      Well OP said the driveway is on the boundary so if the neighbour feels this way they can go get stuffed.

  • +28 votes

    If you end up having to demolish it, hire one of those large concrete breakers from Bunnings. Then play with that 5-10 minutes every morning as early and as close to the fence as possible.

  • +3 votes

    you're council radar now..so better comply unfortunately.. and FU to your neighbour. I guess maybe have look at what else is within the vicinity that oh .. may look a bit non complian t due to safety

  • +11 votes

    My prick neighbours built a freestanding wooden pergola with walls, they use for parties with super loud doof that vibrates through my whole house, right on the fence. Can’t wait to complain to council. I hope they don’t have a permit.

  • +2 votes

    Surely this neighbor wouldn’t have complained if the structures on his own property were also non-compliant.

    Would be running the gauntlet in a big way knowing that inspectors would be sniffing around next door.

    • +5 votes

      Plot twist: the neighbour has relatives on the council…

  •  

    Can you get the tradie back and have them shorten (not shift) the carport so that 900mm is taken way from the fence side? They can cut the slab away on the fence side with a concrete cutter as well.

    • +2 votes

      I’m guessing it has posts too. It’sa carport, not just a slab

  • +1 vote

    Might have been said but can't be bothered reading all the comments.

    You don't need council approval for small sheds and carports etc in NSW . They can be constructed under complying development regulations, however you do have to follow setbacks and size/heights which are quite genorous.

    • +1 vote

      But its the setback which is non-compliant

      •  

        true, but was following from the point (in my head atleast :) ) that you could just pick it up and sfift it 900mm to be compliant.

        …..or claim it is already under complying and force the neighbour to take it up with the regulating authority - which isnt council and have bigger fish to fry.

        •  

          and sorry, that should be exempt dev, not complying.

  • +9 votes

    Hi,
    I think you are on the wrong track. I will try explain what is required.

    Council approval can mean a number of things - There is "Development Approval" and there is "Building Approval" - they are two separate things (among others like siting discretion, Plumbing Approval, Operational Works, ERAs, etc etc the list goes on and on - but the latter ones are not relevant to you).

    It may vary but depending on your jurisdiction, given you are talking about a carport and presumably quite small sheds, it is most likely you don't need "Development Approval" as little carports and larger garden sheds would be Self Assessable against a Development Code that determines what size, distance to boundary, and a number of other things it can be… If you tick those boxes, you can jump straight to Building Approval, and don't need a $4000 consultant to achieve Development Approval for such structures. (Unless you have some constraint like are Heritage Listed or can't comply with the rules like are too tall or too big or want permission to go closer than the required setback etc).

    As for Building Approval, (i.e. assessment for safety and accessibility against the National Construction Code, formerly known as the Building Code of Australia (BCA)), they are Class 10a structures which are very simple to get approved (the easiest type of structure), it just has to be done right - i.e. you need proper engineered slab designs, and carport designs (these would be very typical and almost 'off the shelf' given you are not the first, second or hundredth person to build one in your area), and a qualified person to erect them that provide the right paperwork. In Queensland we call them Form 15 (design) and Form 16 (construction) whereby people put their license numbers down and sign off they have designed it correctly to code, and it has been built correctly as per their training to get the licence. It gets assessed by a Building Certifier which can be private certifier you hire or a Council officer by paying a fee, and then it is legal and approved.

    This ensures your structure is safe and not going to blow away in the wind category of your area or collapse on someone and kill them etc, and they have done their best to streamline the process for simple sheds and carports - so its quite a reasonable system.

    As for your neighbour, I highly doubt you can find out online if their sheds and carports are legal. Only larger Development Permits etc tend to be displayed online in most jurisdictions, otherwise there'd be millions of approvals on display, and similarly older approvals wouldn't be. So they could very well be legal.

    • +2 votes

      OP is in Sydney; the planning choices are Exempt Development, Complying Development, and Development Application. Exempt development can be done without any certifier, Complying development requires engagement of a private or council certifier BEFORE commencing works to approve the plans and AFTER the works to issue an occupation certificate, DA is the most onerous involving the council for the plan approval and then having to get a Construction Certificate after, before doing the works and getting the Occupation Certificate.

      If OP can get the carport to fall under Exempt Development all is fine and well. However there is no provision in NSW for retrospective approval as such; if it doesn't fall under Exempt Development then it will always be an unapproved structure, the best that can be done is an application for a Building Certificate, which means the council wont take action against the owner (as it would have otherwise been approvable).

  •  

    Talk to your local councillor. They will say they are powerless but that is their standard line. They employ these Nazi henchmen and can influence things if you then go back and try and rehash the situation. Leave your neighbour alone if you want to enjoy your home life. Your home is supposed to be your castle not your fortress.

    • +7 votes

      I wouldn't - the OP hasn't complied with the Building Code - its a potential safety hazard and illegal. The neighbour could well be legal, it doesn't have to be displayed online for small structures. The Councillor will just have their time wasted. There should be a poll option for get the right approvals for your structures.

      •  

        It’s their job to waste time. The outcome may well bring some peace of mind to the OP and help find the solution they seek.

        • +9 votes

          Please, leave your poor elected officials to important business. The OP is literally complaining about being caught out for breaking the law. WTF is the Councillor going to do?! its a National Construction Code! The solution is simple - they are simple approvals, just get them or don't build illegal structures without proper qualifications! It could blow away in a severe weather event and kill someone.

          •  

            @MrFrugalSpend: My experience is that if you want a solution to your problems and I took it that the OP does, then going above the henchmen that work for the council can bear fruit. I’ve done it myself. It may not mean that the OP gets what he wants but it’s better to focus on solutions than war. Sometimes the henchmen know the complainers personally and that can have a bearing of their harsh attitude. So if the OP is ultimately after a solution he can live with and afford there is nothing to lose in this approach IMHO.

            • +3 votes

              @MontyMacaw: FFS. This is the most simple of things. There is a very clear process. Thousands of people follow it every year. OP didn't follow it.
              There is literally nothing the Councillor can do but blow wind up the OP's arse for a vote and direct them to a council officer to explain in simple terms how they can follow the rules. The outcome will be the same, if the OP wants the sheds, they get the right paperwork - simple as that and won't be hard no matter how many people's time OP wastes to talk about it. There's no war to be had - its just step by step and couldn't be simpler or cheaper anyway - OP just didn't do it.

              Anything to do with the neighbour is just vindictive and likely to backfire and also waste people's time.

              As for experience, I speak as someone who does this for my job, I've done everything from day to day dealing with the so called "henchmen" to speaking at full Council meetings in front of the Mayor and Councillors and all executives of whole Councils and everything in between.

              •  

                @MrFrugalSpend: I hear what you are saying and I’m not saying YOU are wrong. I’ve been told to follow a clear path many times in my life when my instincts told me there might be a better way. That instinct has treated me very well over the years. One time to the tune of $50k in MY pocket when all the path followers said I was wasting my time. Maybe I was lucky. Maybe I wasn’t. And I just remembered another. That time it was worth $500k.

          •  

            @MrFrugalSpend: Our neighbour got done for double parking by a ranger in a council-controlled car park. They wrote to their local member and got the fine scraped.

            OP, your local members are elected to represent the needs of their constituents. Write them a letter.

            •  

              @whooah1979: Sometimes it's better to just do what they ask, or I'll be put on a secret blacklist who knowssss.

              • +1 vote

                @DisabledUser295248: Nah, don’t demolish until you’ve followed all the avenues.

                Lots of good advice here, I don’t need to add anything.

    •  

      what would be my fortress

  • +1 vote

    I had a friend in same situation. Council turns up asks for building permit. Friend says "do I need one?". Council says "no… Now you need a structural engineer report saying it's ok so you don't have to demolish it. Check with your council to see if you can go same route…a lot cheaper for you.

    • +2 votes

      This is likely not a correct summary of what happened. read my post above about Development Approval vs Building Approval - likely a DA is not required anyway. Furthermore, almost all Councils will give a notice to remove but allow a grace period whereby they give you option to get it engineered and certified rather than demolished. It would not be any easier nor cheaper than having done it right in the first place but that is all that is required here - certification of safety against the building code.

      •  

        but allow a grace period whereby they give you option to get it engineered and certified rather than demolished.

        Nobody wants to demolish something they have paid good money to build.
        But if the structure is assessed to be against the building code, and therefore a retrospective building approval won't be granted by the assessor, then what option would the OP have next?