Ups & downs, with a sideways thrown in for good measure

bang headThe Council approval process has been a journey, to say the least. Today however, was a journey of it’s own. One you would not believe…

Megan arrived to work this morning with excellent news. The very first email she received today was an email from our contact at Blacktown Council stating that he had spoken to the bifold door manufacturer company and all his worries and hesitations about approving the doors were put as ease. All he was waiting for now was a letter documenting what was discussed during the conversation and then the house was going to be approved!

Seemed all pretty straight forward to me – just draft up a letter, send it across, and we were on our way! So from 9am this morning, Megan and I were in a fantastic mood…until right around 4:45pm. It was then that Megan received a call from our builder, stating we were back to square one…

For Megan and I, we went from the highest of highs, to the lowest of lows in a matter of seconds, but in reality, things were going downhill all day long. Here’s what transpired between 9am and 5pm:

  • While Council had a conversation with the bifold door manufacturer, reassuring our approver that their doors would meet Australian Standards, they weren’t able to send across the “appropriate information”, and provide the documentation in writing  that their doors (or apparently any in all of Australia) would meet Bushfire Standards for Level 1. The assistant CEO of the company was on the phone with Council throughout the day, and he rejected numerous letters because the format of the letter wasn’t “appropriate”. Therefore, we either need to screen the entire outdoor room with aluminum screens, or revert back to sliding aluminum doors.
  • According to Blacktown Council, the Bushfire standards that we’ve been working with (or rather Council has been working with) for the last two months are out of date (by over two years) and irrelevant. So according to council, everyone that has been referencing the Rural Bushfire Service standards documents anytime recently has been working with incorrect, and out of date information.
  • The developer of Stonecutters Ridge, Medallist, put up a timber fence before lots were released for sale. Thanks to the unmatched scrutiny of our contact at Council, it has come to light that Medallist put up the ‘softwood’ fencing without the proper approval from Council. The existing fencing must now be ripped down and replaced with ‘hardwood’ fencing.

So, at the end of the day, we’re back to square one, without bifold doors, fencing, and a bloke at council who is certain the Rural Bushfire Service is providing information on it’s website that’s almost two years old. Is it? I highly doubt it. The document states it was last updated in 2007, but if the standards don’t change, why would you update a perfectly good document? On top of this, how can all bifold doors in all of Australia not be acceptable for building in a bushfire level 1 zone, especially considering that hardwood fencing is fine…

I’m irate. Our contact at Blacktown Council has been less than helpful – and we’re not the only ones who think so. We’ve been in contact with a number of bushfire consultants (who have been extremely helpful) and they all believe this guy has been completely unreasonable and unhelpful. Glad we got to work with him.

Our deadline with Metricon is fast approaching, and if we can’t get the house we signed up for, we’re not going to be happy. It was four months ago when we signed contracts with Metricon, and they happily added over $5,000 for bushfire prevention measures to our total, but didn’t bother mentioning that the $15,000 bifold doors wouldn’t get approved…

This could get messy.

About Stefan
Stefan is the regular writer for Megan & Stefan, and hails originally from San Diego, California. A resident of Australia since 2007, he write about his experiences living abroad, his love of photography, and documenting the process of building a house here in this sunburnt country he calls home. Feel free to drop him a line - he's always up for a chat.


  1. maja says:

    Oh my goodness. Building a house = big stresses I guess.

  2. How is it that government never quite gets that it is working FOR us, not against us? If they pretended that constituents were customers (I know, big stretch), all the energy they spend NOT doing anything could be reduced and focused into DOING something and making the people happy with the incumbents. #WildFantasy

  3. Kriss says:

    Hang in there. I am sure it does not feel like it now (I know I, myself, wouldn’t be feeling positive at all), but these things do have a way of working out for the best in the end. You will have beautiful house, and a great place to start and build your family.
    A house is always a home if shelters the ones you love, and you have that.
    I am thinking of you both.


  1. […] it’s now our problem. Again. We’re stuck with trying to deal with council again to ensure that our doors are bushfire […]

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