What is the difference between “building work” and “subdivision work”?

The difference between “building work” and “subdivision work” is an ongoing consideration for accredited certifiers and developers.

Under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (NSW), there are two types of work – building work, and subdivision work.

Building work means any physical activity involved in the the construction of a structure. It could include things like levelling a site, laying a slab, or setting up framework. It could also include the demolition of existing buildings in order to clear the site for a new structure.

Subdivision work means any physical activity that has been approved under the conditions of a development consent for the subdivision of land. The physical activity can be in, on, under or over the land, and can include things like the construction of roads and stormwater drainage systems.

Knowing the difference between building work and subdivision work is important. There are many types of certifiers, who are accredited into categories according to their expertise, qualifications and experience. A certifier can only do specific types of work based on their category.

Depending on the project, it may be necessary to get more than one type of certifier to ensure that the all legislative requirements have been met.

Certifiers are often best placed to advise on how best to approach the certification of a project. You may need to seek further advice if a development consent is unclear or the type of work is unusual.

If you would like legal assistance, you can contact Alyce Kliese directly by clicking here.

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Alyce is a civil engineer and a practicing lawyer, who has a desire to share her insights on the legal and practical realities of the development industry.

6 thoughts on “What is the difference between “building work” and “subdivision work”?

  1. What Certificate would be required for the following construction works (not a subdivision):
    – On-site Detention system associated with dual occupancy, boarding house or commercial development?
    – Ground level commercial car parking (extension) with existing development no building works proposed?
    – Major Stormwater Drainage?

    Specifically my question is does the Construction Certificate extend Civil Engineering Works?

    1. Thanks for your question Prayog. It’s difficult to answer without all of the details, but generally the correct certificate for what you are describing would be a compliance certificate. That said, councils are prevented under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act from putting a condition on a development consent that requires a compliance certificate to be obtained in respect of any development. This means that often the council or private sector principal certifying authority will decide whether a compliance certificate or other documentary evidence is required. Hope that helps!

  2. Thank you for your advice.
    Council until most recently have been issuing consent requiring PRIOR TO ISSUE OF DESIGN COMPLIANCE CERTIFICATE for civil engineering works to overcome the issuing of Construction Certificate for Civil Works.
    Currently condition requiring Design Compliance Certificate has been abandoned. And we issue Construction Certificate (Civil Works) for works for works other than building.

    Could you please provide you view/comment of this approach.

    The legislation does not provide a clear guide in regards to the issue of CC for engineering works. And I take it from you earlier advice is that the responsibility for seeking compliance certificate for various works including design and construction of civil works would rest on the Certifier for works, which is fine. However, in instances where there is no building works but the application is for an extension to an existing car parking or drainage works and/or some earthworks (not in public land), then what certificate shall be issued ? If CC is to be applicable only for Building Works and the works is clearly not for a subdivision of land.

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