Note: If your project is anywhere other than the Australian state of NSW, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 02 9844 5847 and we will happily inform you of the process in your particular region. Given most of our projects are in NSW, the information below is relevant to that area.
In order to have your proposed plans construction ready, you must first gain approval from a relevant government body. For most residential projects and secondary dwellings 2 options will be available. The first is a one step process known as a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) and the other is a two-step process known as a Development Application (DA) and Construction Certificate (CC).
What is a Complying Development Certificate? – A CDC is a form of approval available on most residential sites that do not have special hazard zoning such as landslip or flood prone land. It can be applied to proposed new homes or alterations and additions.
A CDC offers an alternative to the traditional council assessed DA (Development Application) and CC (Construction Certificate) method.
To achieve a CDC, a private certifier is engaged to assess the proposal against a legislative document known as a SEPP (State Environmental Planning Policy). The SEPP will outline numerous clauses that the proposal must comply with such as minimum boundary setbacks, minimum landscaped areas and maximum building heights.
The proposal must be 100% compliant to that instrument and no deviation is permitted.
What is a Development Application? – A DA seeks approval for development through the local council. Unless zoned under special circumstances, most residential lots will have an applicable Local Environment Plan (LEP) & a Development Control Plan (DCP).
A DCP is a large planning document, written by local council that outlines their preferences for all design and construction types across all zones in their shire. It is not legislation; therefore, it is acceptable, but not advised to challenge the clauses outlined in the DCP (within reason). The best course of action in this circumstance is to have a pre-lodgement meeting to gauge councils’ attitude on the proposal. An application may still be refused if it does not adhere to DCP guidelines.
The LEP is a legislative document and must be complied with unless the client is willing to take the matter to court.
If the proposal is approved, a Development Application will be granted. This does not yet permit the applicant to start work. The applicant may choose to hold onto the approval to proceed with the next stage later, proceed immediately with the CC stage, or alternatively they can sell their house and advertise it as having an approved DA.
What is a Construction Certificate? – After a DA is granted, a CC issued by a private certifier is necessary to break ground. A CC submission includes detailed plans with Engineer’s and other specialists’ overlays and the council conditions of consent marked on the architecturals.. This is a more straight-forward process than the DA application and is normally approved within a month. Once a CC is issued construction can start.
Note: A CDC incorporates the necessary work of a DA and a CC into one application.
DA/CC or CDC which is better? – This must be assessed on a case by case basis. Sometimes there will be no choice in the matter depending on the zoning, and sometimes the better choice is not known until the design is started. There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
We tend to seek DA approval more frequently in larger more complex projects where discussion is more open and compromises are possible. On simpler and smaller projects we find CDC’s are more common. We will help assess which is best once determining your brief, or after the initial round of sketches are done.