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4 steps to acquiring a Construction Certificate and Development Application approval in Sydney - 2 Feb, 2021

If you have decided on building a new house or renovating your current property in Sydney, then you will have to submit a Development Application (DA) to acquire development approval and secure a Construction Certificate (CC). The DA process can be overwhelming, intimidating and confusing, especially if you are not familiar with construction approval processes. However, it is required that you secure DA approval and a CC before you begin construction, so it’s a necessary step that you must take before you begin your project.


Because DA approval and a CC are required, it is crucial that you prepare your documents accurately and that your plans are within the council, state and national requirements. Regulatory guides like the Building Code of Australia (BCA) can change every year, making it difficult to keep up with the requirements for your home or renovation. This is one of the main reasons why it is important to have a checklist; it ensures that you stay on top of everything that is required for your approval and certificate.

The acquisition of both the DA approval and CC go hand-in-hand, which is why we are merging them and creating one checklist that will help you to attain both. While the checklist is certainly helpful and will guide you through the process, it should be noted that ES Design will guide you through each step and ensure that your designs and plans are in alignment with all regulations and legal requirements.

During this stage, an initial concept design will be done by ES Design during which, the following will be done:

Step 1: Design

Above everything, an Occupation Certificate should be sought as a means to ensure the health and safety of a building’s occupants. If a building is found to be unfit for its purpose, this can not only be extremely dangerous, but can open a can of worms in the future. If issues arise, those involved in the building process may be implicated, so it is in everybody’s best interest to obtain an Occupation Certificate.

  • Refinement of the design

  • Completion of drawings with dimensions (these provide the site and floor plans, sections and 3-D modelling)

  • Preparation of statement regarding environmental effects

  • Scheduling of materials, finishes and colours (this occurs after client feedback).

This process includes client feedback which allows for refinement of the initial designs with additional details that increase the level of certainty about the project and its design. A BASIX assessment is also completed in this step to ensure that the design meets the required energy efficiency criteria that are required by the NSW Government.

Step 2: Development Application

This formal application facilitates the approval of your property’s design (whether it is a new-build or renovation). If approval is granted, bear in mind that it is not permitted to begin construction (you need the CC for this). It simply means that the Council is satisfied with your design plans. The Council will consider design aspects such as compatibility with streetscape or vehicle parking and access. They do not take technical aspects into account as sufficient information about the construction is not normally included.

Step 3: Construction document preparation

After the design is approved by the client and local council, you will then move on to the preparation of construction documents which will allow you to obtain a CC.

To obtain a CC, you will have to submit documents to Council or a private certifier that show the method of construction for the following:

  • Structural system

  • Floor and wall (complete with materials)

  • Internal finishes for bathrooms and kitchens

Any other built-in joinery that applies to your project should also be included. The documents themselves will include written specifications as well as drawings of the site plan, floor plan, elevations, sections and other important details. These documents will show the technical construction details that were not included in the DA.

Step 4: Construction Certificate

As mentioned previously, a CC is needed to begin construction on one’s home. However, many homeowners are not aware of this and may sometimes begin building or renovating of just a DA approval.

It’s important that you make the distinction between a CC and DA so that you submit the accurate documents and avoid unnecessary delays and confusion. The Council will compare your plans to governmental regulations and requirements like the BCA to ensure that your construction plans are safe and consistent with development consent.

We hope that this article provided clarification around the complex process of acquiring a complying development approval. At ES Design, our team will guide you through the process and ensure that your application is thoroughly completed with all of the relevant documents. We know how important projects are, whether it's the addition of a beautiful swimming pool or a long-awaited renovation. Our team will try our hardest with your project. To find out more about our services, call us on (02) 9787 2000.