New dwelling houses, renovations and extensions

Complying development is a fast track planning and building approval which can be issued within 20 days, and save homeowners up to $15,000.

The Housing Code allows:

  • the construction of a new single or two-storey home;
  • alterations and additions to a home;
  • attached development (including garages and balconies); and
  • detached development (including detached garages and sheds) (see Division 4 of the Housing Code)

to be carried out as complying development provided the proposal meets the relevant development standards set out in the Housing Code under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy), including maximum building height, minimum setbacks and minimum landscaping requirements.

Where does the Housing Code apply?

Development under the Housing Code is only applicable in zones R1, R2, R3, R4 and RU5.

Development under the Rural Housing Code may be carried out on zones R5, RU1, RU2, RU3, RU4 and RU6. If you are located in a rural zone, please refer to the Rural Housing Code. The following summary tables do not apply to the Rural Housing Code.


Summary Tables - Development Standards

For a summary of the development standards that apply to dwelling houses and attached development under the Housing Code, select the Summary Table which describes your lot type (see Figure 1 for each lot type):

  • Standard lot means a lot that is not a battle-axe lot, a corner lot or a parallel road lot.
  • Corner lot means a lot that has 2 contiguous boundaries with a road or roads that intersect at an angle of 135 degrees or less (whether or not the lot has any other boundaries with a road).
  • Parallel road lot means a lot that has boundaries with 2 parallel roads, not including a lane.
  • Battle-axe lot means a lot that has access to a road by an access laneway.

Figure 1: Diagram showing the lot types

If the proposal cannot meet the requirements in the Housing Code, a development application will need to be lodged with the local council.

Please note that the summary tables are provided for guidance purposes only and must be fully read in conjunction with the Housing Code.

The information on this website, including any summary tables, is intended to be general information only and does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. No liability is accepted for reliance on any information that is provided. You should seek independent professional advice and refer to the relevant legislation, including the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 before taking action.  


Building Height

Under the Housing Code, the maximum allowable building height is 8.5m. A uniform approach to building height is applied within the Housing Code to provide clarity and consistency for houses.

The height of a dwelling house is measured from the existing ground level, which is the ground level of a site at any point, before any earthworks (excavation or fill) have taken place, as illustrated in Figure 2.

Figure 2: Measuring the height of a dwelling house.

Scenario: Building Height

Sam is looking to undertake a renovation to his home which would include a first floor addition. In accordance with the requirements the first floor addition to the house would not be able to exceed 8.5m in height from existing ground level. Note that the definition of “storey” does not include an attic.

Side Setbacks

Setbacks are in place to provide space between boundaries and to limit amenity impacts such as overshadowing. Figure 3 identifies how side setbacks need to be calculated to meet the requirements of the Housing Code.


Figure 3: Calculating the side setbacks

Scenario: Side Setbacks

Susan’s proposed house is located on a 15m wide lot. The side setback for Susan’s proposed house needs to be 0.9m up to 4.5m and then increased as the house gets higher.

For example, at a height of 7m, the calculation for the side setback would be (building height – 4.5m) divided by 4 + 0.9m. In this case, the side setback would need to be 1.53m.

Landscaping Requirements

Landscaping requirements also need to be met when either building a new home or making alterations and/or additions to an existing home that either:

  • increases the footprint of the dwelling house (or attached development); or
  • decreases the existing landscaped area on a lot.

Under the Housing Code, landscaping requirements are based on lot size. Landscaped area on a site requires a minimum width and length of 1.5m. Figure 4 provides an explanation of landscaping requirements under the Code.

Figure 4: Explanation of landscaping requirements under the Code

Scenario: Landscaping Requirements

James is proposing to build a new house on his 450m2 block of land with a lot width of 9m measured at the building line. As part of the development, James is required to have a minimum landscaped area in accordance with Clause 3.13 of the Housing Code.

As his lot is more than 300m2, James will be required to provide a minimum landscaped area of 125m2. In accordance with the Housing Code, the calculation requires 50% of the total lot area minus 100m2 to provide the minimum landscaped area (0.5 x 450 – 100).

Land included in the landscaped area will need to be a minimum width and length of 1.5m with 25% of the total landscaped area forward of the building line. At least 50% of the minimum landscaped area is also required to be behind the building line. [CA8] 


Gross Floor Area Calculation

The development standards for gross floor area is important to control the bulk and scale of the development.

Gross floor area under Housing Code means the sum of the floor area of each floor of a building measured from the internal face of external walls, or from the internal face of walls separating the building from any other building, measured at a height of 1.4m above the floor, and includes habitable rooms in a basement or an attic.

The calculation of gross floor area excludes:

  • any basement which is for the purposes of storage;
  • vehicular access, loading areas, garbage and services;
  •  1 car parking space and access to it;
  • terraces and balconies with outer walls less than 1.4m high;
  • voids above a floor at a level of a storey or storey above.

Figure 5 below indicates components that are included in gross floor area calculations.

Figure 5: The components included in gross floor area calculations


Additional requirements under the Housing Code

  • The area of the lot must not be less than 200 square metres and the width of the lot must not be less than 6m measured at the building line.
  • Only 1 dwelling house is permitted on the lot (restriction does not apply to a secondary dwelling with approval).
  • If the development is on a battle-axe lot, the lot must be a minimum of 12 metres by 12 metres (not including the access laneway) and must have an access laneway with a minimum width of 3 metres. When calculating the area of a battle-axe lot, the area of the access laneway is excluded.
  • Development standards for detached development are provided under Division 4 of the Housing Code.
  • Development standards for excavation, fill, retaining walls and structural supports, drainage and protection of adjoining walls associated with dwelling houses are provided under Division 5 of the Housing Code.
  • Development standards for dwelling houses on bush fire prone land and flood control lots are provided under Clauses 3.4 and Clause 3.5.
  • Setbacks of dwelling houses from protected trees are provided under Clause 3.33 and exceptions to setbacks under Clause 3.11.


What else do I need to consider? 

  • 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 in 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.
    • You can carry out complying development on bushfire prone land, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.4 sets out the bushfire prone land requirements under the Housing Code). 
    • You can carry out complying development on flood prone lots, subject to the requirements of the relevant Code (clause 3.5 sets out development standards for flood control lot under the Housing Code).