Frequently Asked Questions

What is the process from Start to Finish?

For someone who is not in the industry it can get very confusing to know what is involved. Action Plans act as a One-Stop-Shop and will walk you through the entire process from Start to Finish. Below gives you a rough rundown of the process on a typical project.

Step 1 – Initial Consultation

When you first engage Action Plans Building Design we will take your brief of what you are planning to do and provide you with a Complimentary Quote and Assessment within 24 hours. We can also help answer any of your questions and give you advice.

Step 2 – Site Visit

Once you have engaged our services we will come out to your site/property and carry out a measure up of your existing property (renovations only). If it is a new build we will still come out to site and carry out a site assessment to work out how to achieve the best design and orientation.

Step 3 – Preliminary Design

One of our experienced and qualified Building Designers will then produce a Preliminary Design for your project based on your design brief.

Step 4 – Design Development

We will then send through our Preliminary Design for your review and make changes according to your feedback/comments.

Step 5 – Planning Approval/Development Approval

Once you are happy with the design, our draftsman will then work the design up to lodge with your local council for Planning/Development Approval.

Step 6 – Building Approval/Construction Certificate

Once we receive the council approvals our design team will then produce the Building/Construction Documentation which will include sections, construction details and window schedules to enable you to get your building approval through a Private Certifier.

How do I know what I want will be within my budget?

Action Plans can design to your budget. We work with building cost estimators and can provide you with a full building cost breakdown of your project based on your Preliminary Design. This way you will know your project is on budget at the start of the project, rather than waiting until you have all your approvals and send your drawings off to builders and realising you can not afford it.

What is a DA?

A Development Application (DA) is a formal request for consent to carry out development. This type of Development Approval is the most common way of getting development consent in NSW.

A Development Application consists of a collection of documents (including application forms, site plans, consultants’ reports and the like) and is submitted to your local Council. For some forms of development, the development application process can be swift and simple. However, for more complex applications, it can be a lengthy, time consuming and frustrating process.

There are a few types of development that can be particularly complex (and generally apply to commercial and industrial, rather than residential development)

What is Complying Development?

A Development Application (DA) is a formal request for consent to carry out development. This type of Development Approval is the most common way of getting development consent in NSW.

Complying Development is largely governed by State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development) 2008, also known as the “Codes SEPP”. Complying development is common or routine development that has predictable and minor environmental impacts and meets the development standards set out in the legislation.

If your project meets all the development standards, you are guaranteed approval, which comes in the form of a Complying Development Certificate (CDC). CDCs can be issued by your local council or a private certifier. Approval is usually granted within ten days. Examples of residential complying development include building a new one or two story house, renovating an existing house or adding a swimming pool to an existing house. Granny flats can also be built as complying development; these are governed by State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009.

How do I know what I want will get approved by council?

All proposed new building works need Architectural drawings submitted into your local council for approvals. Each council have a different set of regulations that need to be adhered to. These covenants dictate the building setbacks, site coverage, aesthetics etc. of your building.

If your proposed project complies to these regulations they can often bypass a DA application and go straight to a certifier for a Building Approval.

If you are wishing to push the boundaries, it can still get approved but will need to get lodged through council and the local authorities need to access it against the performance criteria.

Action Plans Building Design is a team of experienced and qualified Building Designers who will guarantee your project will get approved by council. If after their initial assessment they believe there will be any complications with your proposal they will advise you and give you the option to adjust the design so it will comply and get approved or proceed with your original plans at your own risk.

If we guarantee it will get approved and council come back with any issues, Action Plans will adjust the drawings free of charge to comply.

How long will it take before I can start building?


Preliminary Design – 1 week

Planning Approval – 1 week + 4 weeks in council

Building Approval – 1 week + 1 week with certifier

Home Extension

Preliminary Design – 2-3 week

Planning Approval – 2 week + 4 weeks in council

Building Approval – 2 week + 1 week with certifier

New Home

Preliminary Design – 4 week

Planning Approval – 2 week + 4 weeks in council

Building Approval – 2 week + 1 week with certifier

What happens after Development Application (DA) is lodged?

Generally, after a DA is lodged, the process is as follows:

  1. Your DA will be placed on public exhibition. This allows interested parties, such as your neighbours or local businesses, to view your development plans and raise any concerns.
  2. Council assesses your DA against the relevant controls, including State Environmental Planning Policies, Local Environmental Plans and Development Control Plans.
  3. If your DA fails to comply with one of the controls, this doesn’t mean it will be automatically refused. Council will undertake a merit assessment to decide whether the positives of your approval outweigh the negatives.
  4. If your DA is successful, you will be granted development consent. There may be some conditions of consent imposed, such as works that must be carried out before occupation or materials that can be used.
  5. If your DA is unsuccessful, you can request for council to review the determination (with or without amendments to your original DA) or lodge an appeal at the Land and Environment Court.

Do I need any other permits or authorisations?

We ensure all permits and applications are identified and lodged as per the requirements for each design project.

I don't have a builder. Can you recommend any to me?

Yes. We have a great network of builders that we can put you in touch with and happy to work with on your project.

Do I need to do anything else if my property is heritage listed?

Having a heritage listed property does not mean that it cannot be changed or improved, but any modifications will be thoroughly assessed to ensure that the heritage characteristics of the property are not lost. This generally means that you will need to lodge a DA to council.

If you have a heritage listed property or you are not sure and you want to make modifications please contact us to find out your options and obligations.

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