A Five-Point Checklist to Help New Home Buyers Understand Development Requirements

There are many property developers offering new properties for sale in Sydney, but have you ever wondered what can go wrong if these developers aren’t playing by the book? Here, we outline the process of fulfilling development requirements to build apartments for sale in Sydney – and what can go wrong if any step of this process is missed. While these regulations are for the developer to meet, it’s worth understanding them as a home buyer so you can identify any red flags that may arise.


  1. Developers must apply for a development application (DA)

Local councils like The City of Sydney Council act as the principal certifying authority that ensures building plans comply with regulations. Before a property developer begins work, they must submit a detailed development application (DA). The application process determines whether the development will be safe and compliant, how suitable it is for the site, possible impacts on the environment and whether the public accepts the new development. This process can take some time and for good reason – plans may be rejected if apartments are too small, have inadequate ventilation or for a variety of other reasons. You can check with your local council if approval has been granted for a specific property. For example, the approvals for our own Waterfall by Crown Group, Arc by Crown Group and Infinity by Crown Group can all be viewed at the City of Sydney website, while V by Crown Group and Eastlakes Live by Crown Group developments are located within the City of Parramatta Council and Bayside Council areas respectively.


  1. Developers must obtain a construction certificate

After development consent is given by the local council, a developer must obtain a construction certificate before building can commence. This certificate is an important document because it certifies that the plans and specifications of the planned building codes will adhere to the Building Code of Australia, that all required contributions and fees have been paid and that development consent conditions have been satisfied. If unscrupulous developers go ahead without this certificate, then the finished product could potentially have structural or spatial problems – certainly a problem that no home buyer wants in their brand new apartment.


  1. Developers must engage licensed contractors

Australian laws from 2005 state that it’s an offence under the Home Building Act for a developer to knowingly employ an unlicensed contractor. Developers must be willing to provide the names and addresses of people working onsite to a building inspector, with severe penalties for non-compliance. This law dissuades dishonest developers from hiring cheaper or inexperienced builders whose inferior work could significantly compromise the finished quality of apartments for rent and sale in Sydney.


  1. Developers must ensure their builder obtains appropriate insurance

Property developers who contract a builder are legally required to ensure that their chosen builder has arranged home building compensation insurance before work commences on any project worth more than $20,000 including GST. This insurance helps to protect you and other future homeowners if the builder becomes insolvent, dies, disappears or has their licence suspended for failing to comply with a money order made by a court or the tribunal in favour of the home owner. It’s another critical step for a thorough building process with reputable builders.


  1. Developers must report variations to development standards

Variations can occur during a complex building process, sometimes due to material availability or design changes. Off-the-plan contracts will typically allow for some variation, so it’s wise to closely review all clauses with your lawyer or surveyor prior to signing on the dotted line so you’ll know how much variation is allowed. Developers must report any variations to development standards to the local council, which will be made available on your council website.


As a home buyer, it pays to ask these questions of your developer and carry out due diligence before signing a contract. One of the most beneficial steps you can take is to check that the developer has successfully delivered similar off-the-plan apartments in Sydney to the one you are considering. This will indicate that you are buying from a reputable developer that delivers on their contracts, leading to a sound property investment.