Plan Sealing – why it’s so critical

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Plan Sealing is the final stage of the development process and is often considered the most vital and time sensitive stage of this development process. Every Property development involves a process, and that process includes several key milestones along the way that need to be ticked off correctly if the next stage of the project is to be a success.  For example, in simplistic terms, for most projects you need to gain development approval [not just building approval] before you can start the development.

As the project proceeds these milestones become more critical. Why? Because the further along the path you go the more money you have invested and if that money is borrowed the more it is costing you.

Plan Sealing is the final stage, and it applies to both land subdivisions [ROL’s] as well as Town House and Home Unit developments [MCU’s]. It is the final stage of having to deal with Council prior to approaching the Land Titles Office for your new titles, and therefore it is the 2nd to last hurdle before your project’s sales can be settled and revenue realised or before the new project can be occupied.

plan sealing
Plan Sealing = final Council Approval

Why is it called “Plan Sealing”

This stage is called Plan Sealing because after the development application has been approved and all the site works have been completed the Surveyor completes a final survey plan [sometimes referred to as the Linen Plan] which accurately delineates the precise lot boundaries and other relevant data for each individual lot that will form part of each new title, whether it be land or a strata title home unit. However, the land Titles office will not register that plan until the local Council has endorsed the plan by applying their seal on it.

The Plan Sealing process involves Council assessing all the material associated with the project such as approved construction plans and specifications cross checked with a detailed physical inspection to determine that the development has been carried out in accordance with the Conditions of Approval  [the DA & BA].

What does Plan Sealing Involve?

This will likely also involve several certifications for completed works for various parts of the project as constructed along the way, e.g. storm water disposal. It can also include such things as a CMS for Community Title developments or easement documents. Council usually charges a fee at the beginning of this process and will expect payment of any infrastructure charges/ contributions and rates at the conclusion before releasing the sealed plan.

One reason the Plan Sealing stage is considered the most critical is because delays at this stage usually are the most costly, however another potentially more costly reason is that it is at this point rectification or revision works may need to be carried out to ensure the project is totally compliant if Council has determined that it is not so.

Plan Sealing is final Council Approval
We check things carefully before they go to Council

What can go wrong?

We know of one partly constructed townhouse project in Camp Hill that had to be demolished as it had exceeded height limitations. In that case the mistake had been discovered during construction and whilst it was painfully expensive for the developer, it was a lot less expensive than having to demolish a completed building. That mistake originated due to the developer trying to avoid the expense of excavating rock for the foundations to start at the correct level. Not being one of our projects, we were approached late in the day for assistance, but Council were relentless in demanding compliance.

Given the critical importance of plan sealing, it is a key focus area here at SCM Projects before and throughout construction of all projects we manage. We have extensive experience with Plan Sealing on a range of different projects across various Local Council Authorities here in South East Queensland. We can provide expert knowledge and assistance to ensure that your development is managed and delivered in a timely manner when it matters most.

What to do about it

  1. Our biggest tip? Even though Plan Sealing is the last step don’t leave it until the end of the project to start thinking about it! Start early with the end in mind! Make sure you fully understand the DA and what is required. All too often we see projects where Plan Sealing is given little consideration before completion and almost always that is a costly mistake.
  2. By reviewing the DA Conditions carefully, and this should be done in conjunction with other key players in your development team, you will gain a fuller understanding of what is involved and when. Communication is key here. Sometimes changes need to be made and sometimes those changes need to be approved by Council. Whilst it is better to get this out of the way before commencement, don’t be shy to approach Council mid project in case your DA needs to be updated. Leaving it until the end is always stressful and expensive!
  3. Make a checklist with a timeline stage by stage and review it regularly. Some councils actually have a plan sealing checklist that you will need to supply at the time of plan sealing.

Many Council’s have processes aimed at improving plan sealing times and relieving Council workloads through enabling self certification by accredited consultants for certain project types {eligibility criteria applies], e.g.Brisbane City Council has “SealSmart”, however don’t for a moment think using that process is any faster, easier or simpler than getting your plans sealed directly by Council if your Plan Sealing application has not been properly prepared for a complying project. Here at SCM Projects we have an enviable record of achieving very short turn around times for projects we manage. In fact it is not uncommon for accredited SealSmart consultants to engage our services on behalf of their clients

If you would like assistance on your project, please contact us on [07] 33697779. What price peace of mind? We have more information on Plan Sealing here

2 Responses

  1. Brad John Ogden
    | Reply

    very good information, thanks.

    • Adrian Stagg
      | Reply

      Thanks Brad,
      It’s good to receive some appreciation every now and then 🙂

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