Council Approval Guide

How To Get Building Approval For A Steel Building

Are you wondering whether you need council approval for your shed? I’m sure you will agree with us when we state: the council approval process can be incredibly confusing. 

In this guide, we outline what you need to know to get approval for your steel building.

Do You Need Council Approval For A Shed?

Council requirements for approvals can vary widely throughout Australia. On top of that, state and territory-based laws regarding design and placement can differ greatly. Because of this it is always a good idea to speak to your local planning authority.

There are 3 different processes when it comes to council approval. It will depend on the location, size and use of the building as to which process applies to you. The processes are:

  • Exempt development: No council approval needed.
  • Complying development: Complies with standard building codes but the local council needs to be notified of and records the development.
  • Development Application and Construction Certificate – Process needed if the development doesn’t fit inside the standard building codes and regulations.

There are also separate requirements within the 3 main processes that apply to Farm Buildings and Industrial/commercial developments.

In NSW, you will need to understand the differences between exempt and complying development and what they mean to you.

Council Approval For Shed

Exempt Development

Exempt development covers minor, low impact developments that are built on certain rural properties. If your building meets specific development standards, any further planning or building approval is not needed.

This means any construction that does not require a full assessment by council can be done quickly and with lower costs.

Examples of exempt development standards can apply to many farm buildings and sheds less than 200m2. Further details of what structures are exempt can be found here.

Exempt Development

Complying Development

Complying development involves a fast tracked approval process for straightforward rural, residential, industrial and commercial developments, provided that your building meets specific development standards.

If you have identified that you building fits within the complying development code, you can lodge for a complying development certificate (CDC) with your local council or accredited certifier. The council or certifier will assess your complying development application. If your plans meet these requirements, you will receive a complying development certificate. 

Some benefits of complying development include:

  • Streamlining the approval process​
  • Provides you greater certainty to the approval process.
  • Saving you time and money
  • Also frees up council resources of for larger and more complex development applications (DAs)

You can find out these specifics for farm buildings here and industrial buildings here.

Once your application has been lodged, a council or private certifier will assess your proposal. If your development meets building standards such as height, setbacks and landscaping your complying development certificate can be approved in as little as 20 days, saving you thousands of dollars depending on your project.

When applying for complying development, the development must comply 100% with the development standards, which include:

  • Maximum building height;
  • Minimum setbacks;
  • Maximum gross floor area and;
  • Minimum landscaping;
  • Privacy.

If you don’t fall within the standards for complying development, then you must submit a Development Application, which we discuss further below.

The requirements for complying development are designed to strike a balance between your rights to building on your land, while minimizing the structure impacts the surrounding areas.

Building Without Council Approval NSW

Development Application

 A DA (Development application) is an application process where you provide some basic plans outlining the project and its environmental effects. The council will assess your application and issue approval to proceed with the final planning of your your development. Along with the approval there will be a list of criteria specifying the conditions of the approval.

The Development Application process can be very time consuming, so make sure to consider this in your project timeline.

You will then need to provide further documentation showing how your building development will comply with the criteria specified by the council.

The documentation that you will need to provide will vary between projects, but could include:

  • Architectural design
  • Soil reactivity reports
  • Engineering design for the civil and structural works
  • Plans for stormwater retention and runoff
  • Carparking and traffic flow studies
  • Landscaping plans
  • Fire escape and retention plans
  • Statement of Environmental Effect (SEE)
  • Wildlife impact studies
  • Development budgets

You will often need the services of Architects, Town planners, Engineers, building contractors, surveyors and other consultants to prepare this documentation. At Techspan we have a great network of people that can help out in each area so please reach out for advice and we can point you in the right direction.

Once your design documentation is complete you can apply for a construction certificate.

Construction Certificate

As part of receiving you DA it is normal for the council to request some further information. This information must be supplied before you start any construction. After providing this information you will receive a construction certificate. A construction certificate shows that the proposed development meets the Building Code of Australia and the criteria stipulated in the design approval.

This certificate can be prepared by the Council or a Private Certifer and the benefits of each are described below in the next section

The Construction certificate is the approval to build, so let the fun begin.

Complying Development

During construction there will then be intermediate and final inspections carried out by the certifying authority to ensure that the building is built in accordance with the requirements on the constructions certificate.

What’s The Difference Between Council And An Accredited Private Certifier?

A private certifier is someone who can approve a project on behalf of a council. Their job is to ensure that the development conditions are met. These condition can  be either the predefined conditions of a Complying Development or the more detailed conditions as stipulated by a  DA

The main difference with between lodging with your local council or a private certifier is the time it will take. Both will charge fees, however the private certifier will normally be quicker.

Development Application

A Basic Guide To Getting Council Approval

Here are the common steps involved in the Permit Process

  1. Acquire your copy of the certificate of title and title plan.
  2. A site plan of the land will then be prepared. This shows the boundaries, nearby roads and waterways, and any existing buildings and sheds within the property boundary.
  3. Check for Exemption. This will involve checking the building codes. If you are exempt you are good to go.
  4. Once you have a basic idea of what you wish to build you can organize a pre-DA meeting with the council or private certifier. The result of this meeting will tell you whether you should aim for a Complying Development or a Development Application. It is not conclusive, more of a verbal heads up.
  5. If a Development Application isn’t required then a Complying Development Certificate can be applied for.
  6. If a Development Application is required an application form needs to be completed, and sent to your council with the required documents. This can then take around a 4-10 weeks to be processed.
  7. Once the development application is through, the construction certificate can be applied for.
  8. When the construction certificate is approved, the on-site work can begin.

Be thorough and deliver all materials by the requested dates. Resubmissions and extensions can result in extra costs.

Building A Shed Without Council Approval

Double check that your have all your paperwork is in order. Even if you believe you don’t need to seek planning or building approval, you should get in touch with your local council to check that you are meeting all their guidelines.


Need More Assistance

Double check that your have all your paperwork is in order. Even if you believe you don’t need to seek planning or building approval, you should get in touch with your local council to check that you are meeting all their guidelines.

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