What Approval Is Needed To Construct On Your Own Home?

Council Planning Schemes regulate how a property can be used, including the building constructed on the land, its size, and the materials used. Zoning regulations may also require a minimum size for residential dwellings, and variances may be permitted on application. You should always review your planning scheme and consult your local Council’s planning department about the regulations that apply to you. The two main council approvals required for constructing a small house are a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) and a Development Application (DA).

What Is A Complying Development Certificate?

A CDC is a much quicker method of approval than a Development Application. Government legislation states that your private certifier must issue the CDC within ten days of lodgement. This is assuming that all correct documentation has been lodged with the application. Depending on what you are building, the required documentation for your application may differ.

In most cases, you will require:

  • Site plans
  • Elevations and floor plans
  • Engineering plans
  • Approval by your local water company
  • A drainage plan
  • Basix certificate

Updated Section 149 Certification from Council. To be eligible for a CDC, your site must comply with set legislative criteria such as minimum boundary setbacks, minimum lot sizes and street frontages. If your development does not meet these requirements, you will need to lodge a DA.

FAQs About Approval Is Needed To Construct Home

Yes, you can build your own home in Australia if you want to cut costs and save money. However, you’ll have to do an owner builder course if you’re working on a project which costs over $12,000. Owner builder duties include: Supervise other contractors working under you.

Permission You Require

You can build the property only when the city authority approves your building plan. In addition, you need a clearance certificate from the development authority, apart from clearances from other state departments such as fire safety, environment and transport departments.

Although it is recommended that you first try to resolve any problems by talking the issue through with your neighbour, or by using mediation, your local Council has to investigate noise from a building project if it is deemed to be damaging to health or a nuisance, known as a statutory nuisance.

In general, your neighbour only has the right to build up to the boundary line (line of the junction) between the two properties, but there are circumstances when they can legitimately build on your land. For example, you can consent to build a new party wall and foundations on your land.

For most projects, you’ll need the following types of construction drawings to apply for planning permission or a lawful development certificate:

  • Existing floor plans. These are accurate drawings of what the building looks like as it stands today.
  • Design floor plans.
  • Elevations.

The major steps to buy land and build a house include: finding land for sale, arranging financing, understanding zoning restrictions, determining whether your lot is suitable to build on, evaluating the cost of adding utilities and getting quotes from local home builders.

If you plan to install a new fence on your property or repair some areas of the house, you might be asking yourself whether you need building approval for a minor construction project. Of course, it’s a valid question. However, not all types of construction or renovation projects require a building approval or permit. Queensland and New South Wales have regulations identifying which construction or renovation projects do not require building approval.

A building permit or approval is issued by your local Council or a private building certifier to homeowners and property developers after proper inspection of building plans and construction sites. It indicates that the project meets the regulations defined by the Building Code of Australia. Building approvals are given to ensure safety and structural stability.

What Is A Da?

A Development Application (otherwise known as a DA) is the application made to your local Council seeking consent to carry out a development. This type of approval is the most common way of getting consent in NSW. Development Applications are suitable for more complicated building projects that don’t meet the requirements for Exempt Development or Complying Development. A Development Application consists of a collection of documents (including application forms, site plans, consultants’ reports and the like) and is submitted to your local Council.

Development Approvals

New development, which includes new development on an existing property, may require approval (DA).

The purpose of a DA is to make sure the design of your project:

  • is appropriate to the area
  • conforms with any lease requirements
  • meets Territory Plan codes
  • meets planning regulations
  • complies with specific development conditions for the land

Some development is prohibited in the ACT. It is also not permitted to construct some structures, such as retaining walls and letterboxes, over the front boundary titled development. Find out more about encroachments. If you’re developing your land, you may need to notify your neighbours about the proposed development. Find out more about pre-DA consultation.

Building Approvals

romain dancre doplsdelx7e unsplashUnless exempt, all building work requires a building approval (BA). ABA makes sure the proposed building work conforms with the Building Act building code requirements, including that the building will be structurally stable.

The landowner must appoint a licensed building surveyor as the building certifier for work that needs a BA. The building certifier decides whether to issue the BA. If you are the landowner, it is first your responsibility to ensure the appointment of a building certifier. You can also authorise someone else in writing to appoint a certifier on your behalf.

If a licensed builder must carry out building work, the builder you appoint will also need to apply to the building certifier and be given a commencement notice before the building work starts.

Other Approvals You May Need

You may also need to get separate approvals for:

  • building works involving driveways, stormwater easements, disposal of demolition and excavation waste, and verges
  • removing trees or work on land that may damage trees
  • works that may have significant environmental or heritage impact
  • unit titling
  • changing a concessional lease
  • changing a Crown lease
  • designated areas under the control of the National Capital Authority (NCA)

Remember, even if your project is exempt from a DA or BA, it may still need other types of approvals. For example, building projects are done for, or on behalf of, the Commonwealth may not require approvals under ACT laws but may be subject to Commonwealth controls.

Get Started

  • Check whether you need a DA, BA or other types of approval.
  • If a DA is required,
  • prepare the approval application, including plans of the work
  • Apply for a DA and pay the fees.
  • If a BA is required, appoint a licensed building surveyor as your certifier.
  • Prepare a building approval application, including plans and specifications for the work.
  • Apply for building approval and pay the fees.
  • For work that needs a licensed builder, engage a licensed builder or become licensed as an owner-builder (there are eligibility restrictions on owner–builder licences).
  • Arrange for any other required approvals

Owner-Builder Approval

You will need this approval if you intend to carry out building work on your property on projects valued over $20,000. Owner builders can build, renovate or extend the following building types:

  • Class 1a(i)
    • a single-residential detached house or habitable building on the same property but separate to the main house, such as a granny flat
  • Class 10
    • a non-habitable building or structure, such as a private garage, carport or shed
  • small commercial building
    • A one or two-storey building with a floor space of less than 500 square metres is not a Class 1a(i) detached house, Class 10 building or a farm building.

Service Type

  • Licence
    • A licence defines the need to obtain recognition/certification and registration to undertake a certain business activity.

Eligibility Requirements

  • To be eligible for approval, you must:
    • be a natural person
    • own or have interest in the property
    • intend to live, occupy or use the property
    • hold a relevant insurance policy
    • Have completed the required training course or be a registered building practitioner.


  • This approval will expire six months after it is granted unless the owner-builder is granted a building permit, in which case the approval will expire when the building is completed. If the building permit is not granted, the approval will expire simultaneously.

    The Rules In Queensland

    Accepted Development

    sebastian herrmann nbtidofkgo8 unsplash (1)Some minor building works in Queensland, like home repairs and renovations, do not require building approval. These are called ‘accepted development’ and are set out in the Planning Act 2016. Some examples of accepted developments include:

    • Small tool sheds, stables and similar structures up to 10 square metres
    • Fences with a height of two metres and below (excluding swimming pool fencing)
    • Retaining walls with a height of one metre
      • Although these minor building works do not require building approval, the owner must make sure that they still comply with any applicable building standards. Some of these standards include size limits, structural sufficiency, and the City Plan (Queensland Development Code).

    To comply with Queensland’s City Plan, owners must make formal enquiries with the City Council before any construction or renovation. Some building works that are required to comply include:

    • Fixing of minor attachments to a building like a sun hood with an area of less than two square metres
    • Construct playground equipment up to three metres high from their natural ground surface.

    Other building works at home that does not require a building approval include the repair or replacement of the following:

    • Fixtures and lining of walls or ceiling
    • Kitchen cupboards
    • Vanity units or floor coverings

    However, homeowners still need to make sure that all materials that are to be used for these building projects adhere to relevant Australian Standards. The lining must also be fixed according to the installation instructions from the manufacturer.

    The Rules In New South Wales

    Exempt Development

    In New South Wales, some minor building projects and developments may not require a building permit or approval as long as they comply with the applicable standards. These are classed as “Exempt Development”. These include the construction and installation of the following:

    • Access ramp, animal shelter, and aviary
    • Aerial, antenna or a satellite communications dish (including any supporting mast) as long as the construction or installation does not comprise fire alarm communication works within the scope of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
    • Air-conditioning units and ATMs
    • A roof-mounted evaporative cooling unit
    • Awning, canopy, or blind over a window or door opening
    • Balcony, deck, patio, pergola, terrace or verandah
    • Barbecue or other outdoor cooking structure
    • Carport, pathway or paving, a bollard, a garbage bin storage enclosure
    • Cabana, cubby house, fernery, garden shed, gazebo or greenhouse.
    • Charity or recycling bin
    • Clothes hoist or clothesline
    • Reverse vending machine, mobile reverse vending machine, or a container collection cage
    • Driveway and a hard stand space
    • Walls or other forms of structural support
    • Farm building, a fowl, or poultry house
    • A fence on land or in a business and industrial zone
    • Free-standing flagpole
    • Above-ground fuel tank or gas storage facility for agricultural activities
    • Home business, a home industry, or a home occupation
    • Water heater or hot water storage tank
    • Landscaping structure or letterbox
    • Playground equipment, portable swimming pool or spa, or a child-resistant barrier
    • Privacy screen, roller shutter door, and rainwater tank
    • A shade structure of canvas, fabric, mesh or the like
    • Skylight, roof window or ventilator

    The construction and installation of these structures are considered exempt development as long as the structures are done on or in a heritage item, a draft heritage item, on land in a foreshore area, or in an environmentally sensitive area. Minor internal and external building alterations also do not require building approval, and neither are the demolitions of all mentioned exempt developments.

    When Do You Need To Get A Building Permit?

    Most forms of major domestic building projects will require building approvals or permits. This includes the construction of new homes and renovation and extensions to existing homes. You must secure a building permit which can be obtained through a licenced private building certifier before proceeding with the building work or face the penalties as proposed by the Building Industry Fairness Act 2017 (BF Act).

    Penalties For Not Getting A Building Permit

    Penalties for any unlicensed building work may include the following:

    • notices and orders, such as stop-work notices or enforcement notices
    • prosecution for criminal offences
    • fines of up to $44,000
    • injunctions to restrain or remedy serious breaches (court orders).

    The Council can also order demolition of the building works. Aside from the penalties, not getting the required building approvals could affect the future sale of the property and affect the validity of the home’s insurance policy.

    How Do You Get Planning Permission To Build A House?

    When you get planning permission, the local authority grants you the rights to build a certain property of a certain size on a certain plot. To obtain planning permission for a newly built house, you’ll need to submit a planning application with the help of professional architects and planning consultants.

    What Is The Cost Of Planning Permission?

    The cost of a planning application is $206 in Australia. This is the new cost for a householder application, and it applies from 2018 onwards. Householder applications are appropriate for alterations to single houses, including extensions and alterations.

    How Long Does Building Approval Take?

    Although timeframes vary, a rule of thumb is that planning approval can take up to 30 days.


    Remember, even if your project is exempt from a DA or BA, it may still need other types of approvals. For example, building projects are done for, or on behalf of, the Commonwealth may not require approvals under ACT laws but may be subject to Commonwealth controls. A building development approval (or building permit) is needed before construction can start on most types of domestic building work. You can get building approval from your local government or a building certifier. The building approval sets out the mandatory inspections required at various stages in the construction process. This guide has information about the role of building certifiers, competent persons and cadets, when you need approvals, and the various inspection stages.

    You may think it’s fine to continue with your building project without getting a permit. However, regardless of the type of work being carried out, it’s highly advisable that you still play it safe and contact a professional for advice. An experienced building certifier will determine if the work you are planning to do requires a permit and will ensure that you comply with all building and construction laws in your state. It will also help you avoid any hefty fines or other penalties if you are, in fact, in the wrong. 

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