Our Essential Guide to Complying Developments and Outdoor Patios

Want to build a new patio or outdoor room but have no idea where to start with council approval?

It’s hard to understand building regulations and complying development terminology when you have no background on the topic.

That’s where we come in.

Our HV Aluminium team have been helping property owners all over Newcastle, the Central Coast and Hunter Valley build their dream patios and outdoor rooms. To get started, we’ve created a handy, easily-digestible guide to complying developments.

For smaller projects such as patios, you can generally bypass the complying development certificate process. But what happens if your dream patio or outdoor room isn’t exempt?

Don’t stress, we’ve included advice and plenty of resources to get you started.


Does my project need a complying development certificate?

Getting approval from the council can be difficult, even at the best of times. Finding the right forms online and knowing where to submit them can be a daunting process. The inevitable mountain of technical jargon can be confusing and ends up slowing you down.

You will need to take a different development application approach depending on the vision of your dream home and how much building work is involved.

Depending on your vision for your dream home, you will need to determine which development application route is required. This is largely determined by how much building work needs to be done.

There are three approaches:

#1: No approval needed – A good portion of pergolas, patios and decks fall under the New South Wales government’s ‘exempt development’ list meaning you don’t need approval for these minor renovations. Read the full list of development standards before starting your project.

Before you read the second point, check out our article ‘How to get NSW council approval for your patio, pergola, or deck.’ You may find you don’t need a complying development certificate and can bypass to the end of this article! Read on, if you don’t fall under the no approval needed category.

#2: Complying Development Certificate (CDC) – If your outdoor room or patio doesn’t meet the ‘exempt development list’ then you can often take the fast-tracked process by gaining a Complying Development Certificate.

The certificate is usually issued by either the Council or an Accredited Certifier (Yes, at HV, we can organise a CDC through a certify body or council for you!).

The standards applying to complying development mean the building design is required to meet all prescriptive requirements, variations are not permitted.

The CDC typically has fewer forms involved and the turnaround time is shorter. So if you don’t fall into the except category make sure you talk to us about a CDC before taking the longer full development application approach. This will help your friends enjoying your new patio much quicker.

#3. A full Development Application (DA) – If all else fails then you still have the DA approach. It’s more lengthy and takes several steps. But if it means building your dream outdoor room or patio then the process will be worth it.

The City of Newcastle Council wrote a handy guide to each of the steps.

  1. Prelodgement
  2. Lodgement
  3. Submitting an Application to the Council
  4. Notification and Public Comments
  5. Assessment
  6. Determination
  7. Post DA

We suggest taking a look before beginning the application process. Understanding what you need to file the application will save you heaps of time and fuss.

We’re going to take you through the CDC submission process to reduce the stress involved and get your new patio or outdoor room underway.


Guide to navigating the Complying Development Certification process

Here’s a list of helpful resources according to the council to get you started on your outdoor patio or room. Most of the information is similar so you can look around the various council documents for a greater resource pool.



Complying Development Certificate Application

Complying Development Checklist



Application for Complying Development Certification

The full list of Planning and Application Certificates


Lake Macquarie

The Building and Development process

Complying Development Certificate


Port Stephens

Complying Development Certificate Application Form

Development application process

Types of development including exceptions



Development application process

Building Certificate Application form

Exempt projects



Complying Development Certificate

Exempt developments



Complying Development Certificate

Exempt development


Contact our HV aluminium team or get in touch with your local council if you have any further questions about whether you need a complying development certification or the process.

Do you need a complying development certificate?

Depending on the size of your development, you may or may not require a complying development certificate. On most occasions when you’re adding a small extension such as a patio, the approval will be exempt. However, you may have to jump through a few hoops for different kinds of extensions.

To get started, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Do you know which category you belong in?
  • Do you know the components of that category?

Depending on your requirements, HV can help you throughout the complying development certificate process.


Live in Newcastle, the Central Coast or Hunter Valley and have questions about complying development for your new outdoor area? Talk to our expert HV Aluminium team.

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