Exemptions from development approval

Decks, patios, landings and terraces do not need development or building approval if they comply with rules set out in (Schedule 1, Part 1.3, Division 1.3.2, Section 1.48) of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008.


A deck, patio, landing or terrace doesn’t need development approval if:

  • It does not have a roof
  • the height of the finished floor level is not more than 0.4m above natural ground level for any part that is either between a front boundary and a building line for the block or within 1.5m of a side or rear boundary and 1m above finished ground level in any other case
  • if any part of the deck is between a front boundary and a building line for the block that part of the deck does not have a balustrade
  • if any part of the deck is behind a building line for the block the height of any balustrade for that part of the deck is not more than 1.2m above the finished floor level for the deck
  • A deck is a class 10 structure. Additional criteria apply if two exempt class 10 structures would be built within 1.5 metres of a side or rear block boundary. More information

You should also consider other general exemption criteria that may apply. 

Note: these rules include the external stairs or ramp, external landing and retaining wall for the deck. Balustraderefers to any barrier that acts as a balustrade. See definitions to understand the terms in italics.

If you are seeking to build on a rural block different exemption rules apply. (see Schedule 1, Part 1.3, Division 1.3.5,Section 1.85 of the regulation).

If you are still unsure whether your development is exempt you should check the regulation or call ACTPLA on phone: (02) 6207 1923.

A building certifier can ensure plans and work are completed in accordance with the law.

Exemption from building approval

You don’t need building approval if the proposed fence or freestanding wall complies with relevant provisions of the Building (General) Regulation 2008, Schedule 1.


 The development is exempt from needing building approval provided that:

  • it has no walls
  • it is not more than 3m above ground
  • the floor level is not more than 1m above ground
  • the frame does not have an unsupported span (including any cantilever) of more than 4m.

 General rules for exempt building work

The proposed structure should not adversely affect:

  • the structural integrity of any part of the building
  • a fire-rated wall, ceiling or floor
  • a fire escape, emergency lift, stairway, exit or exit passage
  • the natural light, the ventilation or fire protection system.
  • the proposed structure should not affect the building in a way that reduces its compliance with the Building Code to below minimum requirements
  • erection of the structure should not involve handling asbestos or disturbing friable asbestos.

For more information on exempt development call ACTPLA on phone: (02) 6207 1923.

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