When I worked at Council one of our biggest enquiries I received was “Do I need to apply for a Development Application for a deck…or carport….or shed… or fence etc. It is a common question for Council duty planners and on the flip side the sentence “I didn’t know I needed approval to build that…” is one of the most common sentences heard by Council compliance officers. I have worked on both sides of these questions, assisting residents to understand what they can and cannot build and also helping those people that have built things they shouldn’t have to obtained approval.
The first thing that people don’t realise is that most builders and other tradesmen are not town planners and don’t know the legislation (it is noted however that there are a number of very knowledgable tradesmen that keep up to date with the relevant provisions within the legislation). Never trust them with what they say without checking it out for yourself. Do some research and don’t assume they are telling you the correct information. When I was at Council one of the most common stories I heard from people caught up in a unauthorised works matter was that the builder said they didn’t need approval.
So how do you know if you need approval? One of the easiest ways is to call the local duty planner at Council. They should be able to quickly send you through the documentation that specifies the deck/shed/carport etc that you can do and the rules you need to follow. Alternatively you can keep reading and I will try and give you the answers and hopefully save you some time.
In the planning world EXEMPT DEVELOPMENT is another term for “things I can do without Council approval”. This is a list of minor developments that you can do without the need for any Council approval so long as you comply with the development standard. To view this list you can go to the following website Exempt and Complying Legislation and then go to Part 2 Exempt Development Codes this will provide a list of the different types of developments that are considered exempt development.
Understanding the exempt provisions under part 2
The first thing you need to know is your zoning. You can look this up by searching your property on the NSW Planning Portal otherwise, if this is too difficult, you just need to know if you are residential or rural. Once you understand this then you will be able to generally figure out the exempt provisions.
Please note that if you are residential then your zoning is one of the following:
R1, R2, R3, R4
If you are rural then your zoning is one of the following:
RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6, or R5
Please note that you might be residential but have a zoning of E4 (environmental living), this is considered to be a residential zoning for exempt development.
The following types of developments are the most common:
A shed is one of the most common exempt development questions we received. Whether it is a shed to store your garden tools, a man shed, a rural shed for your tractor this is one of the most common enquiries I received in my days as a duty planner at Council. Sheds come under Subdivision 9 Cabanas, cubby houses, ferneries, garden sheds, gazebos and greenhouses of exempt development. Below is an extract from the Legislation website taken on the 7th May 2020. Please note that the legislation changes and this might not be the most recent version of the exempt provision.
The construction or installation of a cabana, cubby house, fernery, garden shed, gazebo or greenhouse is development specified for this code if it is not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item, on land in a foreshore area or in an environmentally sensitive area.
2.18 Development standards
(1) The standards specified for that development are that the development must—(a) (Repealed)
(b) not have a floor area of more than—(i) on land in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5—50m2, or
(ii) on land in any other zone—20m2, and
(c) be not higher than 3m above ground level (existing), and
(d) be located at a distance from each lot boundary of at least—(i) for development carried out in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5—5m, or
(ii) for development carried out in any other zone—900mm, and
(e) if it is not on land in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4 or RU6—be located behind the building line of any road frontage, and
(f) not be a shipping container, and
(g) be constructed or installed so that roofwater is disposed of without causing a nuisance to adjoining owners, and
(h) to the extent it is comprised of metal components—be constructed of low reflective, factory pre-coloured materials if it is located on land in a residential zone, and
(i) if it is located on bush fire prone land and is less than 5m from a dwelling—be constructed of non-combustible material, and
(j) if it is constructed or installed in a heritage conservation area or a draft heritage conservation area—be located in the rear yard, and
(k) if it is located adjacent to another building—be located so that it does not interfere with the entry to, or exit from, or the fire safety measures contained within, that building, and
(l) be a Class 10 building and not be habitable, and
(m) be located at least 1m from any registered easement, and
(n) in relation to a cabana—not be connected to water supply or sewerage services.
(2) There must not be more than 2 developments per lot.
Summary of Exempt Sheds
For all zones:
The maximum height of the shed can be 3m above ground level.
If you are on a rural property:
Maximum size of the shed can be 50 square metres and must be located at least 5m off any boundary.
If you are on a residential property:
The maximum size of the shed can be 20 square metres and must be located at least 900mm off a boundary.
The construction or installation of a carport is development specified for this code if it is not constructed or installed on or in a heritage item or a draft heritage item or on land in a foreshore area.
(1) The standards specified for that development are that the development must—
(a) not result in a building classified under the Building Code of Australia as class 7a, and
(b) not have a floor area more than—
(i) for a lot larger than 300m2 in a rural zone or Zone R5—50m2, or
(ii) for a lot larger than 300m2 in a zone other than a rural zone or Zone R5—25m2, or
(iii) for a lot 300m2 or less in any zone—20m2, and
(c) be not higher than 3m above ground level (existing) or, if attached to an existing single storey dwelling, be not higher than the roof gutter line, and
(d) be located at least 1m behind the building line of any road frontage, and
(e) be located at a distance from each lot boundary of at least—
(i) for development carried out in Zone RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4, RU6 or R5—5m, or
(ii) for development carried out in any other zone—900mm, and
(g) to the extent it is comprised of metal components—be constructed of low reflective, factory pre-coloured materials, and
(h) not involve the construction of a new driveway or gutter crossing unless the consent of the relevant road authority for each opening of a public road required for the development has been obtained under the Roads Act 1993, and
(i) be constructed or installed so that any roofwater is disposed of into the existing stormwater drainage system, and
(j) if it is connected to a fascia—be connected in accordance with a professional engineer’s specifications, and
(l) if it is located on bush fire prone land and is less than 5m from a dwelling—be constructed of non-combustible material, and
(m) if it is constructed or installed in a heritage conservation area or a draft heritage conservation area—be located in the rear yard, and
(n) be located so that it does not reduce vehicular access to, or parking or loading or unloading on, or from, the lot.Note.
See the definition of carport in clause 1.5(1) that sets out additional requirements for carports.
(2) The roof of the development must be located at least 500mm from each lot boundary.
(3) There must not be more than 1 development—
(a) per lot if there is a dwelling on the lot, or
(b) per lot or per each separate occupation of premises on the lot, whichever is the greater, in any other case.
This is one of the most common ways people run into issues with Council compliance officers where they undertake home renovations without check whether they need Council approval. Builders and other trades will tell you that you don’t need any Council approval for the renovations but just know, these people RARELY know if you need approval. Generally as a rule of thumb, if you are removing any walls, windows and doors and not replacing it with EXACTLY the same dimensions, then you need some kind of development approval.
You can do minor works such as bathroom and kitchen renovations (as long as you don’t move any plumbing fixtures or install any new plumbing), change flooring, change colours, replace broken or deteriorated parts of the house (like for like) but generally any major changes will need either a development application or a complying development certificate.
Visit the following pages for details on what can be done without approval:
Building a deck at your house is often seen as a rite of passage for any home owner and we have seen it get people into trouble many times! Once again this is one of those development types that builders and tradesmen insist don’t require an approval as it can delay a job for them and also add to their costs. The other trap that people get themselves into is rebuilding an existing deck, we have had many clients who have rebuilt an existing deck due to dilapidation only to have the Council issues fines as the original deck had no approval or they make some minor changes to the size of the deck.
The general thing to know is that if a deck is BIGGER than 25sqm then it requires some type of formal approval.
Please see the link below to find out the most recent information relating to decks, pergolas and balconies.
We offer a $200 Exempt Development assessment for any future projects. We can provide advice for any type of development you are wanting to do without approval and advise whether what you are wanting to achieve is permissible without approval or if a Development Application (DA) or a complying development certificate (CDC) might be required.
The wonderful world of Town Planning can be a nightmare for even the most skilled and experienced town planner. If you have a question or thought about whether something is exempt development please feel free to get in contact with us.
The exempt provisions of the NSW legislation do not allow for a lot of development to be permissible without any form of approval!
There is a stigma attached to development applications and dealing with Council. There is a fear of the unknown or a general fear of Council!
Council is nothing to be feared!
The only issue with having to obtain approval through Council is the timeframe (generally 3+ months) but even this can be cut down with a good town planner running your application.
Contact us today to help get your development application approved!