Obtaining Planning Approval for Building Construction

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It is very exciting to venture into building your own residential home or commercial business facility, however it is important to be aware of the planning approval you will legally need to obtain. By being fully informed regarding the laws and building regulations that are applicable to construction in NSW, your plans can develop properly and without any delays.

Construction in Australia is governed by the National Construction Code (NCC). This code was developed by the Council of Australian Governments (COAG), and incorporates all building and construction requirements into a single code. The National Construction Code is compromised of the Building Code of Australia (BCA), Volume One and Two; and the Plumbing Code of Australia (PCA), Volume Three.

The NCC details guidelines on the necessary requirements for health, safety, amenity and sustainability in the construction and design of new buildings throughout Australia.

Within the NCC there are three classifications of building;

    • NCC Volume One applies to Class 2 -9 – multi residential, commercial, industrial and public building
    • NCC Volume Two applies to Class 1 – residential buildings
    • NCC Volume Two also applies to Class 10 – non-habitable buildings


Before beginning construction, it is important to identify which volumes of the NCC will be applicable. If you are unsure, it is wise to speak with a legal professional or contractor to assist you in determining which set of regulations will define the parameters for your building.

Additionally, if you are constructing a building that is going to allow for public access, you will be subject to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). While the primary focus of this act is to protect the rights of the disabled within society, there is a specific section that is applicable to building codes. The section requires that the ‘design and construction’ of a building must allow access for persons with disabilities. These buildings include all public structures such as hotels, shopping centres, entertainment venues, hospitals, care facilities, libraries and religious institutions. The DDA does not have jurisdiction over private dwellings or multi-family living units such as flats.

If you are planning on building a residential structure you will be subject to the Home Building Act of 1989. This Act governs new residential structures as well as renovations to existing structures. The contractor hired to raise a residential structure must contain the required certifications, including;

    • A contractor’s license or
    • A qualified supervisor certificate within the area of specialty


Prior to hiring or working with a contractor it is crucial to determine if your contractor is properly qualified to do the job at hand. In addition, it is important that you ask the following questions;

    • What is your level of experience with building residential homes?
    • How many years have you been building residential homes?
    • What is the expected time frame of the job?
    • Are you fully insured?
    • How many people will be on this building team?
    • What are the specialty areas of your crew?
    • How long do you anticipate this job will take?
    • What is the cost for your services?
    • How are overage costs handled?
    • Do you provide customers with a written estimate?
    • What could cause the estimate to increase or decrease?
    • Can you provide me with 3-6 references of prior clients?


It is always best to seek referrals from friends or family who have had a successful building experiences with known contractors.

As you begin to research the legal building requirements for either a residential or commercial building, it is easy to become overwhelmed and confused. However, any questions or subsequent issues can be answered by those professionals in the construction and legal industry who are schooled and experienced in helping people realize their residential or commercial building dreams.

If you require any assistance with your construction questions please contact the offices of Owen Hodge Lawyers. At Owen Hodge, we are always happy to assist clients in understanding the full ramifications of any and all of your legal needs. Please feel free to call us at your earliest convenience to schedule a consultation at 1800 770 780.

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