Some external door, window, wall or wall opening alterations don’t need development or building approval if they comply with rules set out in regulations.

Exemption from development approval

You don’t need development approval if an alteration complies with relevant provisions (Schedule 1, Part 1.3, Division 1.3.1, Section 1.21 and 1.21A of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008).

Alterations could include bricking up an external window, enlarging a window, converting a window to a sliding glass door, converting a window to double doors, and cutting a doorway or window into an external wall.


An alteration does not need development approval if you are:

  • replacing a door or window without changing the width of the opening in the wall
  • increasing the width of the door or window by no more than 340mm
  • increasing the height of the door or window by no more than 340mm
  • reducing the height or width, or both, of the window or door
  • installing a wall instead of the door or window or a part of the door or window
  • no part of it is within 1.5m of a side boundary or 3m from a rear boundary
  • installing a door or window less than 2m wide in an exterior wall that is less than 1m above natural ground level (Low impact)

Note: an alteration does need development approval if you are installing a door or window on a floor more than 1m above ground level (High impact).

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

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 the site is on national land you should contact the National Capital Authority for development approval.

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

Exemptions from building approval

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


The alteration is exempt provided that:

  • it is for a class 1, class 2 or class 10 building only
  • a Certificate of Occupancy or other certificate under the Building Act 2004 has been issued for the building
  • the maximum horizontal opening span is 2m
  • the work must comply with the building code and it must not cause any other aspect of building to not comply

General rules for exempt building work:

  • the proposed structure doesn’t 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 doesn’t affect the building in a way that reduces its compliance with the Building Code to below minimum requirements
  • erection of the structure doesn’t involve handling asbestos or disturbing friable asbestos.

If you are still unsure about whether your development is exempt from needing building approval you should go to the building regulations.

For more information call EPD Customer Service Centre on 6207 1923.