Home renovations

Building and renovating

Common renovations Other development Alternative and sustainable materials

This section will help you understand whether you need development consent (via a development application) and which pathway is best for you.

  • The type of consent and approval you need depends on the scale and potential impacts of your development.
  • Most developments, subdivisions, building works and major changes in use of a property require Development Application (DA) and Construction Certificate approval.

Working through legislation can be technical and complicated. We recommend engaging the services of a suitable professional to help figure out what you need and to support your decision-making.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment has a useful guide to the DA process and you can also call us or book an appointment with a Council officer to discuss your plans.

Exempt and complying development

What is exempt development?

You do not need planning or construction approval for some minor renovations and low-impact works (exempt development) if your project meets specific development standards.

The standards you must comply with for most exempt development works are in the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008 (the State Policy).

What is complying development?

Complying development is a fast-track approval process for straightforward residential, commercial and industrial development.

For this reason, ‘sign off’ by a building professional (known as a certifying authority) is needed. Provided the proposal fully meets specific development standards, it can be determined by Council or a registered certifier without the need for a full development application.

Complying development is also subject to conditions of approval to protect surrounding uses during the construction period and the life of the complying development.

How do I find out about planning controls and zoning for my property?

All developments, big or small, must address state government and Council planning controls:

  • NSW Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (in particular Section 4.15)
  • relevant state and regional plans
  • Tweed LEP

Find out the zoning that affects your property using Council's online mapping tool.

Common types of renovation or development

Other types of renovation or development

Eco-tourist facility

An eco-tourist facility is a building or place that:

  • provides temporary or short-term accommodation to visitors on a commercial basis
  • is located in or adjacent to an area with special ecological or cultural features
  • is sensitively designed and located so as to minimise bulk, scale and overall physical footprint and any ecological or visual impact.

It may include facilities that are used to provide information or education to visitors and to exhibit or display items.

Do I need approval?

Yes, you will need to lodge a Development Application for an eco-tourist facility.

We recommend engaging a suitable professional to help with the requirements for subdivision and preparing your application.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment also has a useful guide to the DA process.

Farm buildings

If you're planning to build a new farm building, find out what approval is required before your project commences.

Do I need approval?

You will not need approval if the farm building meets all the relevant standards:

If the proposal doesn't qualify as exempt development, you may be able to apply for a Complying Development Certificate or a Development Application.

Do I qualify for a Complying Development Certificate?

A Complying Development Certificate may be issued if the proposal meets all the relevant development standards:

If your proposal does not meet all of the standards you must lodge a Development Application. 

I need a DA, what do I do next?

If your proposal does not qualify as Complying Development, you will need to lodge a Development Application and Construction Certificate.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment also has a useful guide to the DA process.

Retaining walls

Your retaining wall project may or may not require approval. Find out what approval is required before your project commences.

Do I need approval?

You will not need approval if the retaining wall meets all the relevant standards:

If the proposal doesn't qualify as exempt development, you may be able to apply for a Complying Development Certificate or a Development Application.

Do I qualify for a Complying Development Certificate?

A Complying Development Certificate may be issued for works including earthworks and retaining walls if the proposal meets all the relevant development standards:

If your proposal does not meet all of the standards you must lodge a Development Application. 

I need a DA, what do I do next?

If your proposal does not qualify as Complying Development, you will need to lodge a Development Application.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment also has a useful guide to the DA process.

Rural worker’s dwellings

As defined by the Tweed LEP 2014, a rural worker's dwelling is a building or place that is additional to a dwelling house on the same lot.

It is used predominantly as a place of residence by persons employed, whether on a long-term or short-term basis, for the purpose of agriculture or a rural industry on that land.

Do I need approval?

Yes, you will need to lodge a Development Application for a rural worker's dwelling. Additional requirements for approval are outlined in the Tweed LEP 2014:

We recommend engaging a suitable professional to help with the requirements for subdivision and preparing your application.

The NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment also has a useful guide to the DA process.

Structures in caravan parks

If you are wanting to build or install a structure in a Tweed caravan park, it’s important to be aware of any approvals or certifications you may need.

The rules regarding what you can build in caravan parks in NSW are very different to those of residential spaces.

Structures in caravan parks include such things as:

  • carports
  • rigid annexes
  • garden sheds
  • pergolas
  • ·verandahs
  • tropical rooves

The law governing caravan parks in NSW is the Local Government (Manufactured Home Estates, Caravan Parks, Camping Grounds and Moveable Dwellings) Regulation 2021 (the ‘Regulation’).

Approvals and certifications

Any structure in a caravan park must be built and certified according to Australian standards - there is also a process Council will need you to follow. This process will depend on whether you are building the structure in a flood liable caravan park, or a non flood liable caravan park.

To found out what type of caravan park you live in, please ask your park operator.

Non flood liable caravan parks
If you live in a non flood liable park you can install or build a structure without Council approval beforehand, but you will need approval from the park operator and an engineer’s certification to confirm it has been designed in accordance with applicable laws. The structure must comply with site coverage and set back requirements.

The structure must also be able to withstand wind speed of at least 41 metres per second.

Once the structure has been built or installed, you must then submit a notice/certificate of completion with the above certification attached.

Flood liable caravan parks

If you live in a flood liable caravan park, you will need Council approval before you start any works.

An application can be made by completing the Application for Structures - Caravan Parks and Manufactured Home Estates’ form.

Your form must be accompanied by:

  • The owner of the caravan park’s consent on the form.

  • A fully dimensioned site plan showing the location of all structures on the site including distance to structures on adjoining sites, site boundaries and roads, site number, site area and percentage of site coverage (all roofed areas). Please note, applications are to demonstrate a maximum of 65% site coverage.

  • The design of the associated structure must be certified by a practising structural engineer as structurally sound, and include specifications for the way in which it must be transported and installed, and the footings on which it must be installed. The engineer’s certification must confirm it has been designed in accordance with the Australian Standards nominated in the Regulation, and clearly state the design meets the design gust wind speed of at least 41 metres per second.

  • If your structure includes plumbing and drainage works you must also complete an Application for Approval of Plumbing and Drainage Work on Private Land or Crown Land form.

    To ensure we can process your application as quickly as possible we ask that you make sure you have attached all the required information correctly.

    If you have any questions about structures in caravan parks, you are welcome to contact council to speak to an environmental health duty officer between hours of 8.30 am - 12 pm Monday - Friday. 

    While it isn’t Council’s preferred approach, penalties may apply where structures have been installed without an approval or not in accordance with local laws.

Using alternative and sustainable materials

There are a range of alternative and sustainable building materials now available when looking to build or renovate. These materials can be cost effective and can help reduce any impact on the natural environment. 

These materials include: 

Hempcrete

Hempcrete is a sustainable building material made from the inner woody fibres of the hemp plant, combined with lime and water. It is a more sustainable alternative to traditional materials like concrete. Hempcrete is known for its excellent thermal performance, lightweight nature, and carbon-negative properties.

 

Rammed earth

Rammed earth is a traditional building technique that involves compacting a mixture of earth, chalk, lime, or gravel tightly within a frame or mold to create a solid and durable wall. This construction method has been used for centuries and is known for its sustainability, thermal mass properties, and aesthetic appeal.

 

Recycled Timber

Using recycled timber reduces the demand for new wood and minimizes environmental impact. Reclaimed timber from old structures can be repurposed for new construction.

 

Sustainable concrete

Innovations in concrete alternatives, such as geopolymer concrete or high-performance recycled aggregates, aim to reduce the environmental impact of traditional concrete.

 

Modular and prefabricated construction

While not a specific material, the use of modular and prefabricated construction methods is gaining popularity for its efficiency, reduced waste, and faster construction times.

 

Development applications and alternative materials 

Given that some alternative building materials are not specified in the National Construction Code (NCC) of Australia, you will need to engage a qualified building consultant accredited by NSW Fair Trading to help you choose materials that meet NCC's performance requirements.

Performance Solutions

If building materials aren’t specified in the NCC, The consultant will need to conduct a Performance-Based Solution report – which is an alternative way of complying with the Building Code of Australia (NCC).

For construction in bushfire-prone locations, transparency with your Bushfire consultants about the desired materials is crucial. Including the performance solution report in your bushfire report is essential, as it undergoes assessment by council officers and NSW Fire Services bushfire prone land.