NSW Department of Planning and Environment

Exempt development

What is exempt development?

Some minor building renovations or works don’t need any planning or building approval. This is called exempt development. Exempt development is very low impact development that can be done for certain residential, commercial and industrial properties. A few examples of development that can be exempt development are: decks, garden sheds, carports, fences, repairing a window or painting a house. As long as the proposed works meet all of the development standards (identified in the State Policy for exempt and complying development), approval may not be needed.

Relevant legislation

The majority of exempt and complying development types and their development standards are found in the State Policy for exempt and complying development. You can view the policy on the NSW Legislation website:

The NSW Planning Portal

The department provides free information, advice and tools for everything from adding a deck or garage to building a new home.

You can use the online planning tools on the NSW Planning Portal to prepare, lodge and track development applications for straightforward residential developments known as ‘complying development’ or check the requirements for small home improvement projects known as 'exempt development' that do not require a planning or building approval.

Visit the NSW Planning Portal or email codes@planning.nsw.gov.au, for more information.

Animations and fact sheets

The department has developed a suite of tools to provide more information on exempt development.

The following animations provide guidance for air-conditioning units, balconies, decks and patios and fences.

Balconies, decks and patios

Air-conditioning units


If you want to understand more about the exempt development pathway, you can read the following fact sheets:

The department will publish more animations and fact sheets for other development types if required.

Other development assessment systems

There are nine different planning approval pathways in NSW including complying development.

Find information on exempt development in your preferred language:

More information

Page last updated: 01/03/2023