Residential development code updates

The code simplifies planning approvals for some common forms of residential development. Since 2013 private certifiers may undertake planning assessments of residential code developments in addition to councils.

The residential development code is defined as any development that is complying development under clause 1(2) or (3), 2A, 2B or 2C of Schedule 4 in regulation 3 of the Development Regulations 2008.

Under the code, you can apply for:

  • common residential works and structures such as sheds, carports, verandahs and rainwater tanks
  • single-storey additions and alterations to existing homes
  • new single-storey and two-storey detached and semi-detached homes.

The code sets out performance criteria related to physical aspects of the development, such as location, height, boundary set-backs and site coverage. These criteria allow councils and private certifiers to quickly process applications that comply with the code.

The code applies only to applications for development plan consent. For development approval you may also need to apply for building rules consent and land division consent.

Some minor home improvements such as small sheds and pergolas do not require development approval and therefore are not covered under the residential code.

Where the residential code applies

The code does not apply in certain restricted areas of the state:

  • heritage locations, such as local heritage places, state heritage places, state heritage areas and historic conservation zones
  • the Hills Face Zone of the Adelaide Hills
  • flood-prone areas (unless the applicant can demonstrate that the development meets the flood protection standards of the relevant development plan).

These restricted areas are shown on the development plans for individual council areas.

For applications for common residential works and structures and alterations and additions to existing homes, the code applies in all other residential areas of the state.

For applications for new homes, the code applies only in specific residential code areas for new dwellings.

How to make a residential code application

Consult the residential code guide (1.4 MB PDF) and frequently asked questions (180.3 KB PDF) to determine if the code applies to the form of development you are proposing.

Make sure your proposed development is in an area where the code applies by checking the development plan for the council area. If you are applying for a new home, check the maps of residential code areas for new dwellings.

Applying for common residential works and structures

  1. contact the relevant council or private certifier for an application form
  2. submit your completed application to the council or private certifier.

Applying for a new home or an alteration or addition to an existing home

  1. use the checklist (1.4 MB PDF) to help you prepare your application and accompanying documentation
  2. complete the application form (286.2 KB PDF) or use the hard copy form at the end of the checklist
  3. submit your completed application and checklist to the relevant council or private certifier.

How residential code applications are processed

If your application complies with the code and meets all the performance criteria, the council or private certifier must process the application and grant planning approval within ten business days of receiving your application.

If your application does not comply with the code, the council or private certifier must advise you which performance criteria it does not meet within five business days of receiving your application, you may then modify and resubmit your application or provide the council or private certifier with additional information.

Councils or private certifiers may, at their discretion, accept one or more minor variations (59.8 KB PDF) from the performance criteria as complying.

Where an application meets all the criteria except for one variation, and the council or private certifier does not accept the variation as minor, only the council may undertake a 'limited assessment' and assess that one variation on merit against the relevant development plan.


Councils and private certifiers are subject to auditing of the processes related to residential code development plan assessment and building rules assessment. These audits are undertaken by an independent auditor nominated by the Minister for Planning.

Regulations and gazette notices

The code was established under Schedule 4 of the Development Regulations 2008.

South Australia has a new planning system that will be in operation from July 2020. Visit PlanSA portal to find out what this means for you.

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Page last updated 18 August 2020

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Attorney-General's Department - PLUS
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