The Difference between a DA and CDC


The Difference between a DA and CDC

When embarking on the journey of building a new home, or renovating your existing home, it is crucial to understand the regulatory requirements involved. Two common options for obtaining approvals are the Development Application (DA) and the Complying Development Checklist (CDC). If you have had any dealings with Mosman or North Sydney Council, you’ll know that minimising their involvement in your plans is preferable. 

Development Application (DA):

A Development Application is a merit-based assessment conducted directly through the local council. The council evaluates your application based on a set of guidelines and parameters specific to your area. It is possible for your application to deviate from these guidelines, yet still be approved by the council. The DA process consists of two stages: assessment and, upon completion, submission and approval of a construction certificate.

Construction Certificate:

The Construction Certificate focuses on the planning aspects of your build. It encompasses elements such as site plans, architectural plans, engineering plans, building specifications, fire safety measures, and sustainability statements. Once the Construction Certificate is obtained, you can proceed with the construction of your home.


Complying Development Checklist (CDC):

A Complying Development Checklist is a streamlined approval process that combines both planning and construction aspects. It is designed to expedite straightforward development applications. The CDC process can be carried out by either the local council or a private certifier, resulting in faster approvals. However, strict compliance with all regulations outlined in the checklist is essential. Any failure to meet these requirements will render the CDC application non-compliant.


Key Differences:

One of the main distinctions between a DA and a CDC lies in their assessment criteria. While a DA allows for some flexibility and consideration of individual circumstances, a CDC follows a strictly defined checklist. For instance, if your DA includes a balcony that does not conform to the guidelines but does not affect neighbouring properties, it may still be approved by the council. However, a CDC application with a non-compliant balcony would likely be rejected.


Choosing Between DA and CDC:

To determine whether a CDC is permissible for your project, you need to review your Section 10.7 Planning Certificate. This document contains crucial information about property development restrictions and permissions. Certain factors, such as flood restrictions, critical habitat areas, heritage listings, or regulations under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act, may restrict the use of a CDC.

Considerations for choosing between a DA and CDC include:

  • Reviewing CDC documents specific to your local council area.
  • Evaluating the design and type of building that aligns with your needs.
  • Assessing the size of your desired home in relation to the site.
  • Determining the setbacks from boundaries.
  • Understanding the floor/space ratios, which determine the size of the building in relation to the entire site.
  • Ensuring that the design meets all criteria outlined in the CDC checklist.


Generally, obtaining approval through a Development Application may take up to 12 months (depending on the extent of the renovation/rebuild), whereas completing a Complying Development Checklist can be accomplished within approximately three to four months.


When embarking on a new home construction project, understanding the differences between a Development Application (DA) and a Complying Development Checklist (CDC) is crucial. While a DA allows for more flexibility and individual consideration, a CDC follows a strictly defined checklist, offering a faster approval process. By reviewing your Section 10.7 Planning Certificate and considering various factors, you can determine which process is best suited to your project. 


If you have any further quesitons or wish to discuss what might best suit you and your property, please dont hesitate to call me anytime.