A Short Guide to how Structural Engineering Fits Within the Building Application Process in NSW
Getting documentation together for your application can be a daunting process. This short guide gives you an outline of what’s involved.
A development approval (DA) is issued by the council. The primary purposes is so that:
- The overall location, shape and levels of the building is defined.
- The impact on neighbours and environment can be assessed.
- Council can check whether the building fits within the various planning rules and the building code including structural safety.
The purposes of a construction certificate (CC) is to define the actual details of the construction. This includes the structural engineering design. A CC can be issued by either council or a private certifier.
If your development sits within a set of parameters defined by the state government then the Complying Development Approval (CDC) process is simpler. Your application cannot be refused so long as you sit within the rules and the appropriate documentation is provided. A CDC can be issued by either council or a private accredited certifier. Engineering design and documentation is generally required to get a CDC.
What approach should I take?
If you fit in the CDC rules go for it. If you still need a DA but there is little doubt that a DA will be granted it is generally quicker and cheaper to get a combined DA and CC. However, you might not want to risk expending a lot of money developing the CC documentation only to find your DA is refused or must be amended. In that case you may want to get the DA before proceeding to CC stage.
What if I haven’t got approval?
We can do the design regardless; our job is to make sure the design is structurally safe, functional and economical. Bear in mind though that illegal construction can incur penalties; in the worse case you might be ordered to demolish. Selling a property can be difficult if there is illegal construction.
What if I have built illegally and now need engineering certification?
We are often asked to retrospectively certify unauthorised construction. We will do our best to help but ultimately the structure must be safe and meet the relevant standards. Any certification we provide has to be based on suitable evidence because we are certifying to you, the community and future owners that the structure is safe. …..so there are no guarantees. Inevitably, retrospective certification is more expensive than if we had done the engineering before the construction.
See also – when should I get engineering blog entry