To make sure that you’re building project runs smoothly, check with your local council or an accredited private certifier for the approvals your building work needs. We’ve provided some information below but we recommend doing extensive research before you consider starting work.
First, find out if you need any approvals on the NSW Planning Portal.
Types of approval
Development consent or Complying Development Certificate (CDC)
If you want to build or change your property, you probably need to get development consent from your local council. This can be a long approval process. Go to the ServiceNSW website to find out more about the application process. In comparison to the development consent, complying development is a fast track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. If a CDC is permitted for the type of development you propose under the council’s local plan, it can be issued by either your local council or an accredited certifier. Find out if you have a complying development.
A construction certificate confirms that your construction plans and development specifications are consistent with the development consent, and comply with the Building Code of Australia. A construction certificate can be provided by either your local council or an accredited certifier. You do not need a construction certificate if you have a CDC. Go to the ServiceNSW website to find out what is required before you contact your local council.
If you’re building work needs development consent, it cannot start until:
- A construction certificate has been issued, either by an accredited certifier or the local council, for the plans and specifications. This certificate covers compliance with the Building Code of Australia and consistency with the council’s development consent. Note: If a construction certificate is issued after the commencement of the work to which it relates, it will be invalid and will prevent an occupation certificate from being issued.
- You have appointed a Principal Certifying Authority (PCA), either an accredited certifier or the local council, to undertake critical stage inspections of the building work during construction, and to issue an occupation certificate upon completion of the work. This certificate is to the effect that the building meets required standards, and is safe to occupy and use.
- You have notified the PCA of whether the work is being undertaken as an owner-builder, or by a licensed contractor, and the name of that contractor.
- The PCA has notified the consent authority (who issued the development consent) and the local council of his/her appointment at least two days before that work commences.
- You have notified the contractor of any critical stage inspections and other inspections the PCA requires, that are to be carried out in respect of the work.
- You have notified council of the intended date for commencing the building work at least two days before the work commences.
Choosing a certifying authority
If your work required approval (either development consent or complying development) you will need to apply to your council or an accredited certifier to issue the construction certificate or complying development certificate. You also need to engage a PCA before work starts Whether you choose council or an accredited certifier to be the PCA, they are working for you and the community to make sure that the building work is safe and meets relevant building standards. Go to the what certifiers do page to find our more information.
You can appoint one accredited certifier or the council to issue the construction certificate (or CDC) and a different accredited certifier or the council as the PCA. The certifier should be independent from your builder. Your architect, builder or draftsperson may recommend someone but it is your decision who you choose and the contract should be between you and the PCA. The builder is not allowed to do this on your behalf and you should not feel obliged to engage the certifier suggested by your builder.
Go to the finding and appointing a certifier page for more information and how to choose the best certifier.