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.
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:
- State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008
- Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation 2000.
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.
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
If you want to understand more about the exempt development pathway, you can read the following fact sheets:
- Understanding Exempt Development (PDF, 243 KB)
- Air-conditioning units (PDF, 183 KB)
- Balconies, decks, patios, pergolas, terraces and verandahs (PDF, 113 KB)
- Fences (PDF, 233 KB)
- Carports and garages (PDF, 643 KB)
- Driveways, hardstands, pathways and paving (PDF, 395 KB)
- Home-based enterprises (PDF, 403 KB)
- Advertising and Signage (PDF, 994 KB)
- Aerials antennae and communication dishes (PDF, 184 KB)
- Boundary adjustments and strata subdivisions (PDF, 268 KB)
- Cabanas cubby houses ferneries garden sheds gazebos and greenhouses (PDF, 370 KB)
- Demolition of buildings (PDF, 318 KB)
- Hot water systems and rainwater tanks (PDF, 510 KB)
- Waterway structures (PDF, 519 KB).
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:
- Arabic (PDF, 678 KB)
- Chinese Simplified (PDF, 457 KB)
- Hindi (PDF, 675 KB)
- Korean (PDF, 339 KB)
- Vietnamese (PDF, 723 KB).
Page last updated: 23/11/2022