Carports, shade structures and pergolas

Exemptions from development approval

Carports and shade structures 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 1.46) of the Planning and Development Regulation 2008, Schedule 1.

Carports and shade structures are part of a group called class 10a structures (see definitions) that have different exemption criteria depending on the roofing and level of enclosure.


In general, the development is exempt from needing development approval provided:

  • the roof plan area is not more than 50m2
  • there are walls on not more than 2 of the sides
  • it is not more than 3m above natural ground level (the structure can be as high as 4 metres above ground level if no part is higher than a  30o plane - see picture)

 Carports height diagram

  • if it has a floor, the height of the finished floor level is not more than 0.4m above natural ground level for any part within 1.5m of a side or rear boundary and 1m above finished ground level in any other case
  • it is behind the building line.
  • Additional criteria apply if two exempt class 10 structures would be built within 1.5m of a side or rear block boundary. More information
  • 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 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.

Exemptions from building approval

The carport or shade structure is classified as a small open structure and does not need building approval if it complies with relevant provisions of the Building (General) Regulation 2008, Schedule 1. Below is a summary of the building regulation.  If you are still unsure about whether your development is exempt from needing building approval you should go to the building regulations.


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
  • the roof (including a sail or sail-like element) plan area is not more than 25m2

General rules for exempt building work

The proposed structure should not adversely affect:

  • the structural integrity of any part of a building
  • a fire-rated wall, ceiling or floor
  • a fire escape, emergency lift, stairway, exit or exit passageway
  • 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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