Do I Need Approval for Building Works?

Many residential and commercial building developments and works are illegal without Council approval. Whether you need approval for your project depends on the type of work you want to do and any zoning or development restrictions in the area where the property is located.

Finding out whether you need to apply for approval isn’t the daunting and complex process many fear. Remember: if in doubt, contact us ( (02 6023 8111). Don’t risk unintentionally breaking the law – talk to us about what you want to do and whether you need approval.

What building works require approval?

Most types of residential and commercial building works need some kind of Council approval or certification.

Residential works

Residential works are building projects in and around the home, including:

  • new homes – single houses, dual occupancies and multiple dwellings
  • extensions, raising and renovations
  • demolition, removal and relocation
  • other structures – sheds, garages, carports, decks, satellite dishes etc.
  • landscaping­
  • fences and retaining walls
  • pools and spas
  • rainwater tanks
  • outdoor lighting
  • plumbing and drainage.

Before you start any residential project, it’s important to consider the potential adverse effects these works can have on you, your neighbours and the environment.

We can provide the information you need to successfully complete common residential projects and avoid the potential pitfalls.

Commercial works

Commercial works are those that relate to any large or small business – from setting up a home based office to constructing a multi-storey office block.

We can provide or direct you to all the information you need for a successful commercial building project.

Zoning and development restrictions

To find out whether you need approval for your building project, you will need to know:

  • the land use zone the property is located in – this may restrict the types of works that are allowed on your property
  • any other restrictions on development in the area (e.g. neighbourhood (community) subdivision, bushfire-prone land, covenants).

You can get this information by applying online for a Planning Certificate (Section 149(2)). There is a fee for this certificate.

Approval types

In NSW there are different types of approvals for different types of developments.

Exempt development

Exempt developments are minor works that don’t need Council approval. For information on commercial and residential works that are exempt developments, see the Exempt Development Guidelines.

Complying development

Complying developments are minor works that need certification from either Council or a private certifier. See the Complying Development Guidelines for more information.

More information

Residential development work:

Commercial and industrial development work: