Internal and external alterations

You can get fast-track  approval (complying development) for certain internal and external housing alterations, provided the proposal meets the relevant development standards set out in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 State Policy.

Internal alterations

Some internal alterations to existing dwellings and ancillary development may be carried as complying development. This includes:

  • new openings
  • doors and
  • changes to the internal floor layout.

To be complying development, internal alterations must not result in any of the following:

  • a change in the building classification under the Building Code of Australia (BCA)
  • an additional separate dwelling
  • the creation of an additional floor within a dwelling
  • the erection or conversion of a basement for residential uses.

Please refer to these provisions in the State Policy for a full list of development standards relating to internal alterations as complying development.

External alterations

Some external alterations can be carried out as complying development to existing dwelling houses and ancillary development.

If the dwelling house is in a heritage conservation area (or a draft heritage conservation area) external alterations must:

  • not be to a wall facing the primary wall or any wall that connects to a wall facing the primary road
  • not result in an increase to the height of the dwelling.

The walls of a dwelling house in a heritage conservation area that cannot be altered are show in red in the figure below. 

External alterations in heritage conservation areas and draft conservation areas

External alterations to residential accommodation other than dwelling houses

External alterations to residential accommodation that is not classified as a dwelling house (and development ancillary to this residential accommodation), may also be carried out as complying development if the proposal meets the relevant standards set out in the State Policy.

However, external alterations to residential accommodation, “other than dwelling houses” may not be carried out in the following circumstances:

  • if the land is in a heritage conservation area (or draft area); or
  • on a flood control lot.

Please refer to these provisions in the State Policy for a full list of development standards relating to external alterations as complying development.

Attic conversions

The conversion of attic space in an existing house into a room may be carried out as complying development if the proposal meets the relevant standards set out in the State Policy.

All attic rooms must be contained within the existing roof space and the pitch of the existing roof cannot be changed.

Please refer to these provisions in the State Policy for a full list of development standards relating to external alterations as complying development.

Other considerations

  • All works must be structurally adequate, installed in accordance with manufacturer’s specifications and comply with the Building Code of Australia (BCA).
  • If you propose to remove or prune any existing trees or vegetation, you should contact your council first to make sure you don’t need approval for this.
  • Any structures that would be located on public land or on or over a public road (including temporary structures) require separate approval from the relevant council or Roads and Maritime Services under the Roads Act 1993 and the Local Government Act 1993.
  • Generally, complying development cannot be carried out on:
  • land within a heritage conservation area, or a draft heritage conservation area (there are some exceptions, please check the relevant development standards for more information)
  • land reserved for a public purpose
  • class 1 or 2 land on council’s acid sulphate soils map
  • land in a buffer area
  • land in a river front area
  • land in an ecologically sensitive area
  • environmentally sensitive land
  • land in a protected area
  • land affected by a coastline hazard, coastal hazard or coastal erosion hazard
  • land in a foreshore area
  • land in the 25 Australian Noise Exposure Forecast (ANEF) counter or a higher ANEF counter
  • unsewered land in a drinking water catchment identified in an environmental planning instruments
  • land declared as a special area
  • land in an environmentally sensitive area.
  • In addition, complying development cannot be carried out on land that:
  • comprises an item that is listed in the State Heritage Register (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
  • is subject to an interim heritage order (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
  • is identified as an item of environmental heritage or a heritage item in an environmental planning instrument (unless an exemption under section 57 of the Heritage Act 1977 has been granted)
  • Is a critical habitat under the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995
  • Is a wilderness area under the Wilderness Act 1987.