Welcome to the Nigel Parsons and Associates Architects blog.  In this section of the website you will find a variety of information on NPAA, architecture, the building and construction industry, and the occasional piece of gossip or rant.  I thought I would start with one of the most common questions asked, “Do I need a DA?”

The question is not surprising considering the plethora of legislation which, if you manage to comprehend, happens to change from Council to Council, and from suburb to suburb, even from house to house. So, just because your neighbour did some work, don’t presume you can do the same.

Firstly, you need to understand your own property.  Is it heritage listed or in a conservation area?  Is it a draft heritage item?  Is it on bushfire prone land or in a foreshore area?  Any of these conditions will most likely mean your development, however small, requires a DA.  You can find out what restrictions a property has by obtaining a 149(a) or 194(e) certificate from your local Council.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (referred to in this blog as “the code”) is a piece of legislation with state-wide application describing when development is Exempt, meaning it needs no approval, or Complying, meaning a Complying Development Certificate is required.  In both cases a DA is usually not required.  However, if the property is heritage listed, has a draft heritage listing, in a foreshore area, or has another limitation as prescribed by the code, then a DA will probably still be required.

The three most common examples I encounter are car ports, demolition and minor internal alterations.  Under the code, each of these needs a DA if the property is a heritage item or a draft heritage item.  Further, demolition requires a DA if it is carried out in a heritage conservation area or draft heritage conservation area and car ports require a DA if they are to be located on land within a foreshore area.

Myth: “I don’t need a DA if the work is less than 10% of the building area”.

I client once said that to me, truly.  To clear things up, there is no legislation exempting development based on it being less than a certain proportion of the building or site.  You cannot build or renovate 9% at a time and avoid the need for relevant approvals.  It’s a myth.

Myth: I don’t need a DA if the work is internal.

Almost true.  Under certain circumstances you may need a DA for internal work.  For example, building internal office partitions, demolishing a single wall, renovating the bathroom or kitchen, or changing the carpet all need a DA if the building is heritage listed or a draft heritage item.  This holds true EVEN if the heritage listing relates to only part of the building or another building on the same site.  If your site is heritage listed, you need a DA.

Myth: I don’t need a DA if no one will see it.

Another myth.  Whether or not the work can be seen from the street, a neighbour, the air, or is deliberately consealed, is not reason for Exempt development in the code.   For example, using a building or part of a building as a place of worship requires a DA, even if no actual construction work will be carried out.

In summary, the code describes what development is Exempt and when it is Exempt.  If both of those conditions are satisfied you can go ahead and carry out the work.  The code also describes what development is Complying and when it is Complying.  If both of those conditions are satisfied you must still have plans and specifications prepared which are then assessed by Council or a Principal Certifying Authority, who will issue a Complying Development Certificate.  You can then undertake the work.

If you’re property is heritage listed, in a conservation area or foreshore area or you are still not sure,  then give us a call.  We are always ready to help.

Comments are closed.