TYPES OF APPROVALS
Development Applications (DA's)
A Development Application is commonly referred to as a DA. It is a formal request for consent to carry out proposed development, such as change of use of land, subdivide land, and carry out building, landscaping and other work. You must lodge a Development Application and have it approved by Council before you begin.
Council, or other building professionals such as a town planner or accredited certifier, will advise if you need to lodge a DA. In almost all cases council issues the development consent, though a State agency may do occasionally. Accredited certifiers cannot assess DAs.
Construction Certificates (CC's)
If you have development consent after submitting a DA to council, you need a construction certificate before you can start building work. If you have a complying development certificate, you do not need a construction certificate.
A construction certificate confirms building plans comply with the BCA, are ‘not inconsistent’ with the development consent, and comply with relevant conditions of the development consent. Accredited certifiers and councils can issue construction certificates.
A construction certificate (or complying development certificate) must be obtained before building work commences. Without one, you will be deemed to be carrying out unauthorised building work and you will not be able to obtain an occupation certificate at the completion of building work.
Complying Development Certificates (CDC's)
A complying development certificate is an alternative to a DA and is a fast track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development.
A complying development certificate is issued if a proposed development complies with relevant planning controls and building controls under the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
Accredited certifiers and councils can issue complying development certificates. The certificate must be obtained before any building work commences, including site works such as demolition and excavation.
You should enter into a contract with the builder and obtain either an Owner Builder Permit or the builder's HBCF insurance before work commences.
Examples of complying development include:
renovations to a home,
development of a granny flat,
building a swimming pool,
property extensions (up to two storeys),
building a garage or carport,
the construction of a new industrial building,
alterations and additions to industrial and commercial buildings, and
the demolition of a building.
To find out if your building project or renovation is complying development visit the Electronic Housing Code website.
Read more about lodging a complying development certificate.
If your renovation or build is complying development (or requires a development application through council) you'll need to apply for a BASIX certificate. Read more about BASIX certificates.
Some minor building renovations or works don't need any planning or building approval. This is called exempt development. Exempt development is very low impact development that can be done for certain residential, commercial and industrial properties. Providing your building project meets specific development standards, approval from your Council is not needed.
A few examples of development that can be exempt development are: decks, garden sheds, carports, fences, repairing a window or painting a house.
The standards you must comply with for most complying development works are in the State policy for exempt and complying development. The policy can be viewed at the NSW Legislation website.
Find out if your planned renovation or building project is exempt development using our Interactive Buildings tool.
Occupation Certificates (OC's)
Before you can occupy the building, you must apply for and obtain an occupation certificate from your PCA. An Occupation Certificate verifies that either the Council or a Private Certifier as the Principal Certifying Authority is satisfied that the building is suitable to occupy and/or satisfies the relevant requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA). The PCA will inspect the completed building work to determine if it is suitable to occupy.
Building Code of Australia (BCA) Reports
Have works been undertaken without consent? If so, a BCA Report can be carried out to ascertain whether or not your works are compliant with the Building Code of Australia. This report will identify non-compliances within the code and how they may be rectified.
Swimming Pool / Spa Compliance
Which swimming pools need to be certified and what does 'residential building' include?
Selling or leasing your property from 29 April 2016
From 29 April 2016, if you plan to sell or lease a residential property that has a swimming pool, you must have either a valid certificate of compliance or occupation certificate for the pool.
Alternatively, to sell the property you can have a certificate of non-compliance which will give the purchaser 90 days to make the pool compliant.
A valid occupation certificate is one that was issued within the past three years and authorises the use of the pool.
Multi-residential buildings excluded from sale and lease provisions.
The above provisions don’t apply to:
a lot that is part of a strata or community scheme of more than two lots
off-the-plan purchase of a lot that hasn’t been created when the contract is entered into (i.e. a lot within the meaning of section 66ZL of the Conveyancing Act 1919).
Obtaining a Quote
Obtaining a quote is simple, you will just need to provide the following to us via email:
For Construction Certificates:
1. A copy of the approved DA consent
2. A copy of the approved plans
For Complying Development Certificates:
1. A copy of your final plans
Hours of Construction
State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008
Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000
Building Professionals Act 2005
Building Professionals Regulation 2007
Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979
Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000
Guide to the Building Professionals Act 2005
Building Professionals Regulation: Regulatory impact statement July 2006
Building Code of Australia: see Australian Building Codes Board or view the Code by contacting your local council or public library
Home Building Act 1989 or its Regulation
Swimming Pools Act 1992 or its Regulation
Principal Certifier (PC) / Principal Certifying Authority (PCA)
Before any work can commence on your site, you must appoint a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA). The PCA will complete mandatory inspections throughout the course of construction and certify that works are progressing in accordance with the Building Code of Australia and the conditions of the development approval (DA). A PCA is the only person or body who can issue interim or final occupation certificates.
Only the person with the benefit of development consent (usually the landowner) can appoint the PCA; the builder cannot appoint the PCA, unless they are also the landowner.
Although a PCA is appointed, ultimately it is your responsibility to ensure conditions of development consent are met. The PCA should, however, check the builder is licensed and that home warranty insurance has been obtained.
Read the conditions of consent carefully, note which conditions must be met at different stages, and liaise regularly with your builder and PCA to ensure conditions are satisfied.
This will help you avoid delays, or worse – a fine from council, costly remedial work or an order to demolish unauthorised works.
Section J Reports
Section J Reports or Compliance Assessments are associated with Volume One of the Building Code of Australia ( BCA ), Class 2 to 9, and relates to Energy Efficiency measures of a building. The objective is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
About Private Certifiers
What a certifier does
Accredited certifiers issue development certificates to confirm they are satisfied the development meets legislative requirements. They inspect construction and subdivision work at critical stages, which differ according to the type of development.
Most states in Australia accredit private building surveyors. But in NSW, 'building surveyor' simply refers to a subset of the many different categories of certifiers.
Certifiers are regulated by the Building Professionals Board and are subject to strict accreditation criteria and legislative requirements.
Read more about the obligations of a certifier on our Forms page.
A certifier's work
Certifiers mainly determine applications for construction certificates and complying development certificates, and may be appointed as the principal certifying authority for the development (if they hold the appropriate accreditation). The principal certifying authority issues the occupation certificate at the completion of the development.
The principal certifying authority, or another accredited certifier, carries out critical stage inspections during construction to ensure the building work is in accordance with the development consent and legislative requirements.
At the end of construction, the property owner must apply to the principal certifying authority for an occupation certificate. The principal certifying authority will conduct a final inspection and issue this certificate if satisfied that the building is suitable for occupation or use. A building must not be occupied or used without an occupation certificate.
The guide to the building approvals process has more information about what a certifier does at each stage of construction. This and additional information can be obtained from www.bpb.nsw.gov.au
Types of certifiers
There are many different categories of accredited certifiers. Some are highly specialised and may be engaged to provide a report or compliance certificate for a specific aspect of a building or subdivision. For example, a fire safety engineer's report is required for some developments. Fire safety engineers are accredited by the Building Professionals Board under category C10.