Sheds, Councils and Private Certifiers

Exempt,complying or DA required?

In most circumstances the building of a new shed will require either a Development Application from your local council or a Complying Development Certificate. Some small sheds and carports and some sheds on rural properties depending on the use of the shed may qualify for what is known as an Exempt Development.

The information provided here is general in nature and should be treated as a guide and will vary from state to state and council area.


Exempt Developments

Some development rules allow small sheds and carports up to 20 square metres be classed as an exempt development and so long as they are properly constructed and the water from the roof of the shed is dealt with so that it does not affect your neighbours may be erected without consent. This is usually applied to Garden sheds.

Farm Sheds: Despite urban or perhaps even rural myth that sheds on rural property are “exempt from council” this is not the case in all circumstances. This myth can often be perpetrated by uneducated Real Estate agents or even shed dealers who don’t wish to entertain the council process. A good shed dealer will know the local regulations on Farm Sheds and will be able to suggest the view council will take on your building. In most circumstances to qualify as an exempt Farm Shed the shed should be a pre-engineered steel building for Agricultural purposes only. After that various other regulations are applied like size, distances from boundaries and houses so check with your council or State Governments SEPP (State Environmental Protection Policy). Technically, if your farm shed is for the cars, a workshop, hobbies, temporary accommodation then it is not an exempt development even if you’re on 100 acres.

Complying Developments

Private Certifiers can do Complying Developments

If the shed you want to build falls outside of what is considered to be exempt development, it may fall into the category of a complying development. A Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval in one and is usually a fast track, 10-day approval process where if a shed meets all of the predetermined standards established in either a State or local council planning document then you will receive a Complying Development Certificate which is permission to proceed.

The standards or rules that the shed must comply with are numerical, meaning that the design of the building will exactly meet the numbers in the rules. For example, a complying development may require the shed be 900mm from side and rear boundaries, behind the building set back line of the street and be no larger than a specified floor area and height. What standards you need to meet can depend on your lot size, council zoning and location of shed. These standards can be obtained from your local council or in some cases your State Governments SEPP. A complying development certificate can be issued by either your local council or an accredited certifier.

Development Application and Construction Certificate (DA & CC)

If your building does not meet the rules for exempt or complying development then there is a final planning approval option – a Development application or DA. A development application is a planning approval which can only be approved by a local council or for very large, State-significant development proposals, the State Government. A development application needs to be prepared and it will be assessed in accordance with the development standards established by a council. You can get these forms from your local council and your shed dealer should be able to help you fill them out and provide you with the necessary documents to accompany your DA.

Development standards include “merit” considerations, which mean that when the application is being assessed, a building that does not exactly fit the development standards can still be approved “on its merits”.

Once you have an approved development application you will need to lodge an application for a construction certificate (CC) which provides the construction approval. This is the process that checks your sheds engineering, slab details and organises the inspections during the building process. Building work cannot commence until you have both an approved development application and a construction certificate. Usually to speed up the process most people apply for the Construction Certificate at the same time as the DA.

A DA gives approval to a project, the CC approves the construction. Just having a DA does not give you the right to start constructing your shed. Your accredited Shed reseller can explain this if you’re not sure.

What your chosen shed supplier should provide

Any quality shed supplier should provide you with the following for the council or certifying process.

1.   Engineering

2.   Engineering schedule

3.   A certificate of adequacy from the Engineer.

4.   Floor Plan and elevations

5.   Slab and or footings drawing

6.   Assistance with filing paperwork with council

7.   Some may produce the site drawing for you

If your shed supplier is also a licensed builder they may take care of the whole council process for you from beginning to end including lodging paperwork to drawing the site plan.

What if I want to live in a shed home?

Permanent Shed Dwellings

To have a shed passed as a habitable dwelling this would usually be on rural zoned property we suggest engaging a licensed builder to assist with the process. You will need as a minimum to provide

  • Class 1 Habitable dwelling engineering
  • A Basix Certificate (NSW)
  • An approved waste management system
  • Proper toilet, bathroom, kitchen

With the right processes a Shed can be a permanent Shed Home.

Temporary Dwellings

Consult your local council or private certifier for advice on using a shed as a temporary dwelling whilst you build your home.

The use of a transportable building, caravan or converted shed for a temporary dwelling is usually discouraged and is usually only be permitted once a building permit has been issued for a permanent dwelling on the land.

The use of a transportable building, caravan or converted shed for a temporary dwelling is usually limited to a maximum period of 2 years or completion of the permanent dwelling, whichever happens sooner.

The types of building used as temporary dwellings include:

  • Purpose built buildings (kit homes, a building later converted to a studio, home office etc)
  • A shed converted to or fitted out as a dwelling
  • Transportable building
  • Caravan

The many circumstances under which people live in a temporary dwelling vary. Temporary dwellings can usually occur on rural or rural residential properties typically for the following reasons:

  • The residents can’t afford to build the permanent dwelling for a period of time.
  • To minimise costs (eg: to avoid renting accommodation) during construction of the permanent dwelling.
  • Security of the building site during construction of a permanent dwelling.

NOTE: Where a temporary dwelling is constructed or occupied without planning, building or health approval, action may be taken by councils to cease the occupation of the temporary dwelling.

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