Your project and the approvals process

Depending on the scope of your project, you may not require any approvals under ACT planning and building laws to build an external
deck or pergola.

There are two kinds of approvals that your project may require: development approval and building approval. Applications for both
kinds of approval are lodged with the ACT Planning and Land Authority (ACTPLA).

Development Approval

Under the Planning and Development Regulation 2008, decks are classified as non-habitable structures that are exempt from
requiring development approval by ACTPLA unless they exceed certain constraints. Depending on the deck’s location, height and dimensions
it may require development approval.

According to the planning provisions, the deck includes any stairs or ramps, external landing and retaining walls attached to the deck.

Building Approval

Similarly, the Building (General) Regulation 2008 sets out the exemptions for requiring building approvals. Building approval is needed
ensure building complies with building laws, including the Building Code of Australia. As with development approval, if building approval
is required it must be approved before construction begins.

A deck that requires development approval does not necessarily require building approval and vice versa, so follow this simple
questionnaire to see what approval your project will require.

Does my project require approval?

1.    Will the deck have a roof?

If yes, you are more likely to require development approval.

2.    Will any part of the deck (including the roof if it has one) more than 3m above natural ground level?

If yes, you will probably require development approval and will definitely require building approval.

3.    Will the height of the finished floor exceed 1m above natural ground level?

If yes, you will require both development and building approval.

4.  Will any part of the deck be situated between the front boundary of the block (that is, the boundary closest to the street/footpath)
and the building line?

If the deck won’t be rooved then no approval is required, but if there will be a roof development approval is required if we build in front
of the building line.

5.    Will any part of the deck be situated within 1.5m of a side or rear boundary of the block?

If the height of the finished floor is more than 40cm above the natural ground level for any part that is either between a front boundary
and a building line for the block, then you will require development approval.

6.    Will the deck impact any of the following:

˗         the structural integrity of any part of the house

˗         a fire-rated wall, ceiling or floor of the house

˗        a fire escape, emergency lift, stairway, exit or exit passage

˗        the natural light, the ventilation or fire protection system of the house

If yes to any of the above, you may require building approval.

8.    Does construction of the deck involve handling asbestos or disturbing friable asbestos?

 If yes, you will require building approval.

9.   Does the frame – if there is one – have an unsupported span of more than 4m?

 If yes, you will require building approval.

We hope this page gives you a rough idea about what sort of approval your project may require. But, because of the very
complicated regulation around building, we need to consider each project on a case by case basis before we can advise
you whether and what sort of approval will be required before construction can commence.