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Frequently Asked Questions - Building Services


How do I find out if I need to lodge a Development Application for my work?

The NSW Government’s Exempt and  Complying Development Codes State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) 2008  outlines what types of development does not need approval (exempt development); or may be classed as Complying Development, which is a fast track approval type development built to prescribed standards. Should your development be outside the guidelines set out in the code for either Exempt or Complying Development, you will require Development Consent from Council for your work, requiring the lodgement of a Development Application. See below for an explanation of Exempt and Complying Development.

Before preparing your plans you may wish to discuss your proposal with Councils Planning or Building staff as special circumstances may apply such as minimum floor levels, maximum building heights, bushfire requirements, floor space ratios and building line setbacks. After the Development Consent is issued, it will be necessary to obtain a Construction Certificate from Council or other private accredited certifier prior to commencement of work.

What is Development Consent?

It is the written approval issued by Council after the development application is determined. The development consent will often contain certain written conditions, which must be met before an Occupation Certificate can be issued. These conditions should be read carefully prior to commencing your development project.  Your builder should also be given a copy of the Development Consent prior to any works commencing on site.

What is the Ballina Local Environmental Plan (BLEP)?

It is Council’s overarching legal planning document that provides information as to what type of development or land use is permitted within the various zones within the Shire. The BLEP is available by clicking here.

What is Council’s Shire wide Development Control Plan (DCP) 2012?

Council’s Development Control Plans 2012 is the planning document which sets out certain controls and objectives that apply to your land, either specific to a type of development or an area, which are more detailed than the BLEP. Council's DCP 2012 is available for viewing by clicking here.

What is a Construction Certificate and when do I need to obtain one?

Where development construction work is proposed, you will need to apply for a Construction Certificate after the Development Consent is issued. Construction works on your development cannot proceed until you have obtained a Construction Certificate. Some conditions of development consent have to be complied with prior to the issue of a Construction Certificate.

The Construction Certificate often addresses compliance issues with the Building Code of Australia and relevant Australian Standards, certifying the building as being compliant with these requirements and the issued Development Consent. Prior to the issue of your CC, your construction plans have to be quite detailed demonstrating compliance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) requirements.

Who can issue a Construction Certificate?

Either Council or a private accredited certifier can issue a Construction Certificate. Council's Building Services section has over 50 years combined experience in the assessment of Construction Certificates. We provide a friendly, fast and efficient professional service and can assist you with advice in regard to compliance issues for residential, commercial or industrial developments. Please do not hesitate to contact us for a quote or advice by email council@ballina.nsw.gov.au or ph (02) 6686 1415.

What is Exempt Development?

Minor development that does not require any approvals are regarded as Exempt Development. For further information click here.

What is Complying Development?

Is low impact type of development, which can be approved by either Council or other accredited private certifier without notification of neighbours and with pre-determined conditions of consent. Council and other accredited certifiers can assess these applications and they have a 7-10 working day turn around time for approvals, subject to requirements of assessment. For further information click here.

What is an Occupation Certificate?

An Occupation Certificate certifies that the work has been completed in accordance with the plans, specifications, consent conditions and that the building is fit for occupation. An Occupation Certificate must be obtained by the applicant on completion of the building, or change of use of the building prior to occupation.  At times Council or other accredited private certifier may issue an Interim Occupation Certificate permitting the occupation of the building where minor matters are to be completed.

What fees are payable?

The fees which are required for a particular development are based upon the cost of works. To get a fee quote please contact Council's offices on (02) 6686 1415. Council is more than pleased to provide you with a competitive fee for our services, including the issue of the Construction Certificate, carrying out of the required progress building inspections and issue of Final Occupation Certificates.

What is needed when I lodge my application for development?

Council requires that at the time of lodgement you provide the following:

  • At least three copies of plans and specifications (one copy must be of A3 size), scale 1:200 site plan and 1:100 for floor plans/elevations;
  • Floor plans of all building levels;
  • At least one cross section of the building;
  • A detailed site plan indicating distances from all boundaries, existing buildings on the site and location of adjoining buildings;
  • Details of the location and level of public utilities within and adjacent the site (eg. sewer, stormwater easements and lines);
  • BASIX certificate where required;
  • Existing  site area, proposed total building floor areas and floor space ratio as defined in DCP 2012;
  • Council may require additional information such as shadow diagrams where overshadowing may occur;
  • We may require additional information and material depending on the complexity of your development, refer to DCP 2012 section 3.2.3.

Do I need council approval for demolition?

Some demolitions do not require Council consent and these are outlined in the NSW Exempt and Complying Development Codes SEPP. All other demolition works outside of the NSW SEPP for Exempt Development, either require Complying Development approval from Council or other accredited private certifier or Development Consent from Council.

Prior to commencing any demolition or lodging a Development Application you should consult with the WorkCover Authority to discuss the proposed works, particularly if there is any asbestos disturbance involved.

Will my application be publicly notified or will I be notified of my neighbour's development?

Notification of Development Applications is done in accordance with the requirements of the Ballina DCP 2012 Clause 3.2.4.

How do I object to a notified development?

The first step you should undertake to object to a notified development is to come in to Council Chambers and discuss the issues you are objecting to with Council's Building Services Section. One of Council's Building Surveyors will be happy to discuss the Development with you and explain any questions you may have. If you still have an objection, please submit this objection in writing to Council. Should you wish to remain confidential, please advise Council of this in your objection as objections are generally made available to the public.

Who will determine my application?

Each of Council's Building Surveyors generally has a separate area which they do the assessments for, allowing the Building Surveyor to become well acquainted with the requirements of their separate area and what development is occurring in that area. This will determine who assesses your application.

How long will it take Council to assess my Application?

Council typically takes between 2-5 weeks to assess a routine type Development Application depending on current work loads and the complexity of the application, whether it needs public notification or other referrals to NSW Government departments. For Complying Development Applications, the approval time is reduced to 7 to 10 working days.

Can I view how my application is going?

Yes. To access Council's DA Online service click here. This service enables you to track the progress of your application and provides details of the Council assessment officer.

How long does my Development Approval last for?

Typically, an issued development consent lasts for five years from the date of approval, however the expiry date will be nominated on the Development Consent. Once works have commenced in accordance with the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, there is no end date to the consent. For more information on this matter and what constitutes commencement works, please contact Council's Building Services Section on (02) 6686 1415.

When do I need Home Owner's Warranty (HOW) insurance?

NSW Fair Trading have information on their website about Home Owner's Warranty Insurance which is available by clicking here.

What do I have to do to become an owner builder?

You can access Council's information about becoming an Owner-Builder by clicking here. Alternatively you can access NSW Fair Trading's Owner Builder website by clicking here.

What building materials or roof colours can I use on my property?

Highly reflective materials or materials which produce high amounts of glare are not permitted within residential areas and are merit assessed on an individual basis for rural areas. Concessions may be given to this requirement where requested in writing under specific circumstances. Before committing to purchasing a product Council recommends you contact their Building Services Section on (02) 6686 1415.

What fence height can I build on my property?

Generally 1.8 metre high side boundary fences between adjoining neighbours don’t require any Council approval. Some smaller front fences (eg. 1.2 metre high open picket style) also don’t require any approvals under the NSW Exempt and Complying Development Codes SEPP which can be found by clicking here. For front fences that aren’t exempt, you should be aware of the building line for your property and consult our DCP 2012 CH4, where specific fencing requirements apply.
Dividing fences should be discussed with adjoining property owners and more information on this can be found by clicking here.

Do I have to fence my swimming pool?

Yes. New legislation under the Swimming Pools Act 1992 requires all swimming pools to be fenced or access restricted in accordance with Australian Standard 1926-1986 and the Act. For more information contact our Building Surveyors on 02 66861415.

What is BASIX?

BASIX is a mandatory building sustainability index which is used to assess the sustainability of particular residential buildings. More information can be accessed on the BASIX website by clicking here.

What inspections are required with my development?

The Environmental Planning and Assessment Act lists what mandatory progress inspections must be carried out on a building. This can differ from development to development, and where Council is the certifier, we will generally advise you in writing of what inspections are required.

What information is required for my on-site sewage management (OSSM) system?

Council requires an application for approval to install a new or upgraded OSSM system. With this application you must advise of the make, model and size of the proposed treatment device, the level of treatment you aim to achieve (primary/secondary/tertiary) and the method of disposal of the effluent (eg. evapo-transpiration beds, trenches, Aerated Wastewater Treatment System etc).

The design of any system must be in accordance with our Sewage management strategy; information can be found by clicking here.

Please Note: Ballina Council assesses all rooms which can be utilised in the future as a bedroom as such. This will influence the amount of daily flow and therefore the effluent disposal area required.

Depending on the characteristics of the site and the amount of hydraulic flow, Council may require a report to be prepared by a suitably qualified consultant. OSSM systems in areas which are within environmentally sensitive areas such as water catchment areas must be accompanied by a consultant's report which may be referred to other NSW Government bodies for concurrence. This may result in further requirements being placed upon the system.

What are the steps in lodging my application?

An overview of the steps involved in the Development Assessment process can be viewed by clicking here.

Do I need structural engineer's details for my development?

This depends on the size, scale and type of the proposed development. All new dwellings, residential unit developments, swimming pools and commercial/industrial development will require details prepared by a structural engineer.

A timber framing span table can usually be accessed through your timber supplier and it is worthwhile to take your plans with you when purchasing timber to discuss the timber spacing, spans and sizing to determine which would be most cost effective whilst still providing adequate support and structural stability.

What is a Building Certificate?

This is a Certificate of non-action by Council stating that Council will not require the demolition or rectification of structures outlined in the Building Certificate.  Often the certificate is requested on the sale or purchase of a property. The certificate is not a Development Consent and in the case of illegal building works, additional fees to accompany the Building Certificate application may be required to be paid to Council. The certificate also does not represent a detailed building inspection report but rather addresses any illegal building works or major structural matters that may require the building to be upgraded, altered or demolished. An application form for a Building Certificate can be accessed by clicking here.

Illegal and unauthorised additions?

Illegal building works can result in heavy fines from Council and possible further legal action. Additionally they may null and void any insurance policy taken out for the building.  Complications invariably arise on the sale of a property with unauthorised building works where sale contracts can fall through.

Termite Protection, why is it important and what can I do?

An information sheet on termites prepared by the Federal Government is available by clicking here.

How can I save water and energy consumption in my house?

The Australian Greenhouse Commission has set up a website about this matter. Ways to reduce water consumption can be accessed by clicking here. and ways to reduce energy consumption can be accessed by clicking here. An introduction to their fact sheets can be accessed by clicking here. This is an important issue and can also save you large amounts of money each year.

Why is adequate shading and ventilation important in the Ballina Shire?

With Ballina Shire being located in a sub-tropical climate, one easy way to reduce the amount of power used for cooling purposes is by installing shading for the windows and were possible the walls, especially for east and west facing glazing. By shading east and west facing glazing, the amount of heat created by these is significantly reduced, thus reducing the amount of cooling that is required to make the building comfortable. Whilst this may be costly in the short run the power savings will more than account for it. Designing homes with adequate cross ventilation is important in Ballina Shire.

Can I build over an easement?

Council does not generally permit the construction of any structure over or within a registered easement, except driveways and lighweight fencing. It is generally permitted to build up to the easement. General advice can be obtained from Council's Civil Services section on 02 6686 4444.

What restrictions are there with building near sewer mains?

Council does not generally permit the building of structures over sewer mains and setbacks from existing mains often apply, depending on the depth of the main and existing soil conditions. For further advice contact Council's Civil Services section on 02 6686 4444.

Can I remove vegetation on my property?

Council’s DCP 2012 Chapter 2A addresses vegetation removal throughout the Shire. Click here to access Council’s DCP 2012.