How to Speed Up Your DA

by Urbane Property

For the lucky few, dealing with council can be a straightforward process; for others it can become a painful, lengthy and costly experience. But it needn’t be that way!

So you’ve bought your new house and all it needs is a few little changes to turn it into your dream home? That’s when those two little letters, DA, start to take on meaning.

Did you know that a Development Application (DA) for a new home is supposed to be processed within 40 days in NSW? If it isn’t, you can take your case to the Land and Environment Court. However, this costs an absolute bomb and is beyond the reach of your average ratepayer, so it hardly ever happens. In NSW the average time taken by council is 71 days. Urban councils generally take even longer.

There is some good news, and it’s called ‘Complying Development’. Under this option, if your application meets all the regulations and doesn’t involve heritage or any other complications, council should deal with it in 10 days! They probably won’t, so you might want to look at getting approval from an accredited private certifier. A third of all approvals in NSW are now done this way, simply because it’s a lot more efficient (ie, faster).

If you have a fairly minor development plan, such as a deck or car port, you may be able to get it approved under ‘Exempt Development Legislation’, which is even easier.

And what can you do to my house without any kind of approval at all? As a rule of thumb, if you have a relatively new property and the changes you want to make are internal and can’t be seen from the street, you can probably go right ahead. Most fences and pathways also do not require approval.


But assuming you are required to submit a DA to council, here are a few ways you can make the process easier on your wallet, and your sanity.

1 Look at what’s already been done in your street. Council always looks for a premise and if your neighbours have already done something similar, this can be very persuasive.

2 Get the neighbours onside. Talk to people in your street before you lodge your application. Better still, have them over for drinks. Explain your plans and try to head off any objections before they become official.

3 Find out the inside info. There are always things council is keen to encourage. For example Inner West Council encourages sustainable design principles. If you can incorporate these into your plans, well, it can’t hurt. And you’ll make your home more liveable, economical and healthy, to boot.

4 Consider the state. If your house is structurally unsound or considered beyond economic repair, you’ll have a stronger case for permission to start over.

5 Get some free advice. Call the council and take advantage of the development advisory services before submitting the paperwork.

6 Get the paperwork right. Provide all the required documentation: plans, survey, statement of environmental effects, etc, and make sure it all complies.

7 Never miss a deadline. This is cited by council as one of the main reasons for delays on DA approvals.

8 Ask an expert. Preparing a DA is a complex process so unless you have a good knowledge of legal requirements and planning controls, enlist the services of an architect, draftsman, engineer or qualified consultant.

Happy renovating! For some easy and eco-friendly updates while you wait for your DA to be approved, take a look at our Six Quick Steps to Reduce Your Homes Eco Footprint blog post.

NOTE: The information here is of a general nature. Visit your local council website for details on how to proceed with a DA.

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