The approvals process for a renovation or build can be a minefield of confusion; does my project need a DA? Or can I submit a CDC? Or is it even Exempt Development? And what do all of these actually mean?!!

Renovating Mums chatted to Gregg from Rapid Plans on what each of the different development approval paths mean >>>

Which approval path would suit my renovation?

When preparing a design proposal for building works, there are traditionally two different ways available to achieve building approval.

Firstly there is a DA or Development Application; this is where your renovation or build is assessed for approval by local council.
The second option available is a CDC or a Complying Development Certificate; this is where your renovation or build is assessed against a list of legislative requirements provided by the state government called the SEPP codes or State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes). 

How do I know if I need a DA, CDC or if my renovation is Exempt?

The council assesses a DA application through a merit-based assessment that considers the Local Environmental Policy (LEP) and the Development Control Plan (DCP), but it does not end there for a DA. Once the DA has been approved, you are then required to submit a CC or Construction Certificate through either the council or a private certifier. A CC considers the construction requirements of the build and is required before undertaking any building works.

A CDC is a combined approval and is designed to be fast-tracked. It combines both the assessment and construction aspects of the approval and can be conducted by either the local council or a private certifier. There are different SEPP codes available for submissions ranging from codes applicable to general housing through to boarding houses and affordable housing. All of these have different control criteria depending on the project.

For home renovation, In order to determine whether you need to do a DA or a CDC, you firstly need to check whether a CDC is permissible for your site. Some  sites have restrictions that do not allow for CDC to be undertaken for example a heritage conservation area. This information can be obtained through the local council via a 10.7 Planning certificate. This certificate contains information on how the property can be developed and any restrictions. These restrictions can range from Bush fire-prone lands to critical habitats or environmental and heritage zones.
Rapid Plans can obtain this certificate on your behalf as part of our planning process.

What does this mean for you?

If you have no restrictions listed on your 10.7 Planning Certificate, then the next step is to  determine if your proposed renovation or build will meet the required controls of a CDC found with the SEPP code. CDC SEPP codes have a strictly defined list of planning controls that must be complied with. Failure to meet every one of these requirements will result in the CDC not being approved. 

If your renovation or build does not comply with the CDC SEPP codes, don’t despair! You just need to go down the path of submitting a DA to your local council. Note that council also have controls that require compliance but council do have discretion of approving your project even if it falls outside of the council guidelines.

Rapid Plans can provide advice which approval path is appropriate for your design and adjust your plans accordingly to comply with whichever path you choose is best for your situation. 

Exempt Development.

You do not always need planning approval for smaller renovation projects. Many smaller projects fall under Exempt development. This means that Council approval is not needed as long as your project meets specific development standards. The standards you must comply with for most exempt development works are in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy). This code lists all the works available under exempt development and what is allowed in terms of work under these codes.

These works can include but are not limited to the following:

NOTE: There are development standards specified that MUST be complied with. Please check the links above for the most current regulations. 

How long do these approvals take?

While there can be many technical differences between Exempt Development, CDC and DA, the time taken to provide the approval is the main difference.

Rapid Plans are council and CDC experts and has successfully completed over 800 approvals; we can advise that generally speaking, you should allow 3 – 6months for a Development Application and even longer for more complicated projects, Whereas a Complying Development Certificate can generally be approved in 3 weeks, with exempt development able to be undertaken straight away.

Thank you Gregg & Rapid Plans for your advice!

If you would like more information or would like to chat to Gregg about your project and which path would be best for you, then please contact Gregg and his team on (02) 9905 5000

Rapid Plans 30 years of experience as Qualified Builders, Building Designers, and Expert Planning advice can determine which one of these approval paths will be the best fit for you.  Rapid Plans has a deep understanding of all the relevant codes and controls that will affect your project and can guide you through the maze so you can achieve the home you have been dreaming of.

For more tips and advice on renovations check out our most recent blogs OR get social  with our amazing FB community

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  1. Chelsea

    Hi Gregg, hope you are well.
    I’ve got one question for you about CDC when my cafe front door will be replaced to other bi-folding glass door. I will remove the current door attached to the both tile walls, and will do whole shop fitting out. In this case, is there a requirement for the CDC from council??