Are you looking to build in New South Wales?

The building approval process in New South Wales offers three pathways:

  1. Exempt Development
  2. Complying Development
  3. Development Application

Here is a Basic Overview of the Approval System:

approval process

Exempt Development

garden shed

No Approval Required

Some structures do not require planning or building approval. As a result, this type of development is classed as Exempt Development.

To be Exempt, the project must meet specific requirements that are set in the NSW planning policy.

Learn More:

Exempt Developments

Complying Development (CDC)

Complying Development is also known as the “fast track” approval process. If the project meets the specific criteria as set out by the New South Wales Government, your Complying Development Certificate (CDC) can be approved by Complete Certification. Therefore, your CDC is a combined Planning and Building Approval.
Similarly, to be a Complying Development the works must comply 100% with all of the relevant Development Standards. If the works do not comply with all the policy requirements, a Development Application must be lodged with Council.

Learn More:

CDC Requirements in Residential Areas CDC Requirements in Rural Areas

Fast Track Approval

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  • Front Setbacks

  • Side Setbacks

  • Building Areas

  • Height Limits

  • Design Criteria

Development Application

Development Application

Council DA

If your project doesn’t meet the prescribed requirements of an Exempt or Complying Development, a Development Application (DA) will need to be lodged with your local Council.

A DA is the “concept approval”.

Council will determine the impacts of your proposal upon the surrounding area and adjoining properties. Therefore, when Council is satisfied with the development as proposed it will issue approval with conditions of development. However, prior to works commencing you will require a Construction Certificate and that is where Complete Certification can help you.

Construction Certificate (CC)

When you’re DA is released from council, a Construction Certificate (CC) is required before building can commence.

Therefore, the CC is required to ensure the building satisfies all construction requirements. For example in the Snowy Mountains, engineering plans showing that the building can withstand wind and snow loads is required to prove that the building will be structurally adequate.

Likewise, all of the conditions on the DA must also be addressed before the CC can be issued.

In addition to this, if the cost of works is more than $20,000 then Home Building Compensation Fund (HBCF) Insurance from a licensed builder is required. Alternatively, you may obtain an owner builders license. An owner builders license is required if the value of works is more than $10,000.

​Likewise, if the value of the works is more than $25,000 then payment of Long Service Levy is also required.

Once all requirements have been met you will be issued your Construction Certificate. At this point, you will need a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA) such as Complete Certification, who will undertake all inspections and issue an Occupation Certificate on completion.

Construction Approval


Learn More:

HBCF Insurance Owner Builder PermitsLong Service Levy



Inspections During Construction

Complete Certification undertake the “Critical Stage” Inspections at the following stages during construction:

  • Commencement
  • Footings/Slab
  • Frame
  • Waterproofing
  • Additional Inspections (If Required)
  • Final

​This ensures your development:

  • is being constructed in accordance with the Approved Plans.
  • that the building will satisfy the provisions set out in the National Construction Code and Australian Standards.
  • that your building will satisfy requirements to receive and Occupation Certificate

Occupation Certificate

An occupation certificate is a certificate that enables an owner or occupier to legally occupy or use a building or part of a building. An occupation certificate may be issued upon a satisfactory final inspection and receipt of the Application for an Occupation Certificate form.

Learn More:

How to Apply for an Occupation Certificate