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CDC Approval Process: What is it & How Much Does it Cost?

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development. Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason, a ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Provided the proposal fully meets specific development standards, it can be determined by a Council or accredited certifier without the need for a full development application.

What is Complying Development?

Complying development is a combined planning and construction approval for a development that meets predetermined development standards. Determination of a complying development certificate (CDC) relies on a code-based assessment. The local council or a private accredited certifier can issue a CDC. Where an application for complying development meets the specified development standards in the Codes SEPP (or council’s complying development controls), it must be determined within ten days of lodgement. If an applicant chooses to work beyond the development standards contained in the Codes SEPP (e.g. 3 car Garage), they will need to lodge a DA with the relevant local council in accordance with the merit-based rules for consideration.

Complying development generally includes larger building works than exempt development. For this reason, a ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.

Examples of complying development include: 

  • building a one and two-storey home
  • building a granny flat or secondary dwelling
  • building earthworks and structural supports
  • building a fence
  • building a swimming pool
  • building waterway structures
  • carrying out a strata subdivision
  • demolishing a building
  • establishing a home-based enterprise
  • removing and pruning a tree
  • renovating a home
  • temporary uses and structures
  • works to improve fire safety.

If your renovation or build is complying with development (or requires a development application through the council), you’ll need to apply for a BASIX certificate.

How to apply online

cdc approval process 1

  • Contact your council about applying for a CDC and which documents you will need. For more information, read our pre-application document checklist.
  • Register for NSW Planning Portal accounts to start your application.
  • Log in to complete the online application. You will need to submit a certificate of title, site plan, design plans, structural plans and building specifications, and any other documents the council or certifier requires.

Suppose the Online CDC application service is not yet available in your area. In that case, you can apply directly to your local council or search for an accredited certifier on the Building Professionals Board’s Register.

The Complying Development Certificate Process

A complying development certificate (CDC) is an approval that does not require a separate council development application approval or a Construction Certificate. However, strict guidelines mean some developments are not able to be determined as Complying Development. This depends on several factors which need to be checked at the start of the assessment process.

This entails an extensive check for any site restrictions such as zoning etc., or other factors that may prohibit the application as a Complying Development. The initial proposal is assessed against the following;

  • Complying with Development criteria for the council area using the relevant State Environmental Planning Policy;
  • The land titles search to check for any easements or encumbrances
  • Water Authority plan
  • 149(5) Planning Certificate
  • Building Code of Australia
  • BASIX requirements
  • A mandatory site inspection is undertaken by a Certifying Authority to determine factors not always evident on the plans, such as foliage, access, or other site constraints.

What you need before we can start CDC

cdc approval process

Prior to determining whether using the Codes SEPP is right for your project, there are some useful pieces of information you may need.

Section 149(2) Certificate

Councils in NSW are able to issue a planning certificate as to whether or not complying development under the Codes SEPP can be carried out for a particular lot of land. This is the easiest way to find out whether the Codes SEPP can be used on your land.

Applicants must obtain the full Section 149 (2) certificate. This will provide a comprehensive list of planning matters and constraints affecting the subject lot.

Certificate of title and DP plan

A certificate of title, including 88b instrument & copy of the DP plan that indicates the size of the lot and any easements or notations that may affect the lot. A certificate of title is available from or from your solicitor.

You will need to provide an authority signed by the owners of the land, allowing the builder to lodge plans on their behalf.

Who can issue a complying development certificate (CDC)

An application for a CDC can be lodged with either the local council or a private accredited certifier. The certifying authority must issue a CDC before building work commences.

Other legislative requirements

In addition to a CDC, there may be other legislative requirements for approvals, licenses, and permits that authorities may also require. For example, if a new driveway is proposed, a road opening permit from the council will be required prior to a CDC being issued.

Who came up with CDC compliance

The NSW Government is streamlining the development approval processes for low-impact and routine development proposals, freeing up the merit-based system for more complex and sensitive developments.

Under the NSW planning system, development consent is required in most instances. There are generally three pathways for development:

  1. exempt development covers certain types of minor work where no application for planning or construction approval is required. However, there are standards that must be met
  2. complying development covers work that meets certain predetermined development standards and can be assessed and approved by a certifying authority (council or private accredited certifier) in 10 days or;
  3. merit-based assessment, which requires a DA to be submitted to a consent authority (usually council) for assessment and results in a development consent, if approved.
  4. The principal aim of the Codes SEPP is to remove unnecessary complexity and red tape for homeowners constructing single or two-storey dwelling houses or embarking on low-impact renovations or improvements to their homes.

How much does CDC cost?

Along with architectural drawings, numerous other third-party consultants are required to support your application for approval to build. Below are some of the listed fees and consultant reports usually required that go into your Preliminaries


You will need a survey of your block of land currently if you are applying for DA (Development Approval) or CDC (Complying Development Certificate).

(Approximate Cost $1000-$2500)

Section 149 certificate

A Section 149 certificate is a zoning certificate that is generated by the local council and is specific to the property in question.

(Approx. cost $53)


A Geotechnical report is effectively a report on the soil make up of your block of land and is usually required for two reasons. 

  1. For structural engineering.
  2. For effluent management (if the land is not serviced by council sewer)

(Approximate Cost $700-$2000)

Flood Study/Hydraulics Engineer

The council may require a flood study if your block of land lies in a low-lying area.

(Approximate Cost -This can be quite expensive)

Bushfire Protection Assessment

Most councils have facilities on their websites to check if your block of land falls into a fire-affected zone. If it does, then you will need a “Bushfire Protection Assessment”. This report will be submitted with your DA and will recommend a ‘Fire Rating’; the higher the rating, the more special requirements that will be placed on your building project; these will increase the cost of building your house.

(Approximate Cost $500)

BASIX report

A BASIX report assesses both the energy and water consumption of your proposed building project. A minimum requirement must be achieved in both areas. Even though this may appear to introduce some restrictions on design and materials, it is a direct reflection of your ongoing “running costs”. This report will be submitted with your DA.

(Approximate Cost $500-$700)

Landscape plan

Some councils will require a landscape plan to be lodged with development application drawings. Check the subdivision requirements in your land sale contract, or you may wish to have a landscape plan drawn for your planning purposes.

(Approximate Cost $300+)

Council DA fees

In NSW, there are two processes through which a project passes before it is approved for building work to commence. The first of these is called a Development Application (DA) and is an approval process carried out by your local council. Fees vary from council to council and are related to project costs. Sometimes if the project is a ‘Complying Development’, the CDC, a private certifier, may carry out the process.

(Approximate Cost $1000-$6500). Note: DA fees run on a sliding scale that relates to the estimated project construction cost.

CC fees/Private Certifier

The second approval process is a Construction Certificate (CC) which may be carried out by a council or an approved certifier.

(Approximate Cost $500-$3500)

Long Service Levy

The long service levy is a fee payable to the Building Services Corporation and is 0.35% of the project value and must be paid before the CC can be released.

Drawing & professional fees

Depending on what you are building, The Perfect Space will organise necessary consultants such as Architectural drawings.

(Approximate Cost $5000+)

Structural Engineer

A structural engineer is a professional civil engineer that has a specialised understanding of the forces and loads in structures that include bridges, buildings and tunnels. Residential structural engineers specialise in the design of residential buildings, including houses and units.

(Approximate Cost is $1500+)


An arborist, tree surgeon, or (less commonly) arboriculturist is a professional in the practice of arboriculture, which is the cultivation, management, and study of individual trees, shrubs, vines, and other perennial woody plants in dendrology and horticulture.

(Approximate Cost $500-$2000)

The CDC application can be submitted directly to your council, or you can choose to engage the services of a private certifier. Because compliance has already been verified in the application, you could get fast-tracked approval within as little as a week, although 10-14 days are the norm with many NSW councils. We work with you and your certifier or council to ensure all the required paperwork is correctly provided. We create documentation, including floor plans and elevations, site plans and a BASIX certificate to make sure your development has a speedy and stress-free certification.

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