Fencing issues on new houses


Question: I'm buying a turnkey/completed brand new house, in a new estate. It's all freehold land, with no body corporate complications.

The house was completed in April 2011, and the developer of the estate built all the fencing and so on. Surely if the house is only recently built, either the builder would have ensured it was built in the right spot, or the developer would have put the fences in correctly, or the adjoining neighbours would have checked this... right? 

Is it necessary to do any checks on the boundaries/encroachments/etc, and if so is this only possible if we purchase/arrange a boundary survey? 

Answer: For many people, buying a newly constructed home can be an attractive alternative to buying a second hand property. All new housing developments must be approved by council and there are many certificates that are required to be provided before the final approval is granted.

Boundaries and restrictions

Before commencing construction, the developer must obtain development consent from the local council in accordance with the plans lodged with council. A survey should be included with these plans which sets out the boundaries of the land and any encroachments by or upon the property plus any covenant that may affect the type of building material or fencing requirements. Fencing should be erected in accordance with boundary location on the survey. 

Certificates and Inspections

The following are the most common certificates required to complete the approval process, in conjunction with an accredited building certifier, during the building process: 

  • Construction Certificate
  • Smoke Alarm Certificate
  • Waterproofing Certificate
  • Pest Control certificate
  • Glazing certificate
  • Asbestos Clearance Certificate
  • Occupation Certificate
  • Engineers Certificate

The contract for sale for a newly constructed home should also include a copy of home owners’ warranty insurance certificate, if the building works are over $12,000 and the development is under three habitable floors, which will cover structural defects for six years and cosmetic for two years. 

Your conveyancer/solicitor, should request a copy of these certificates, plus a copy of the council approved stamped plans, when reviewing the contract for sale of land and before exchange of contracts. 

If the development is a community scheme – that is a property which has been divided into individual lots, plus a common area property – your rights relate to the services that the Community Corporation provides you for the enjoyment of your property such as restrictions to what you can do to your property and on the common area, similar to that of an owners corporation for strata units. 

A prudent purchaser would always obtain pest and building inspections reports before exchanging contracts, no matter how new the property is. Always remember that when you are spending hundreds of thousands of dollars, spending $600 on a pest and building inspection is a small amount to pay to give you peace of mind.

If all of the above documents can be supplied then there should be no reason to carry out any further survey or inspections.

Remember: it is your responsibility as a purchaser, to make sure that you are satisfied with all the relevant certificates and survey and the state of the property before entering into a binding contract and your conveyancer/solicitor will guide you through this process. 

  • Answer provided by Geri Forsaith, Sydney Property Conveyancing

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