The Compliance Declaration Scheme is the principal reform introduced by the recent Design and Building Practitioners Act 2020 that aims to raise quality and safety standards in the construction of new and existing apartment buildings.

From 1 July 2021, Builders, Designers, and Engineers working on NCC Class 2 buildings (residential apartment buildings) in NSW must be registered and provide declarations that their buildings are designed and constructed in accordance with the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and other industry standards.

What is a Compliance Declaration?

A Compliance Declaration is a collective name for Design Compliance Declarations, Building Compliance Declarations, and Principal Compliance Declarations. We look at each of these in more detail below.

Design Compliance Declaration

A Design Compliance Declaration is a confirmation from a registered Design Practitioner (Architects, Engineers, etc.) that a Regulated Design complies with the BCA. It should also state whether the design integrates details of any other relevant design or aspects of the building work.

Building Compliance Declaration

A Building Compliance Declaration is confirmation from a registered Building Practitioner that the building work complies with the BCA, and has been built in accordance with a Regulated Design prepared by a registered Design Practitioner.

Principal Compliance Declaration

A Principal Compliance Declaration is prepared by a Principal Design Practitioner and states that all Design Compliance Declarations have been prepared and executed by registered and authorised designers. A Principal Design Practitioner is an optional role and generally reserved for larger projects involving multiple designs.

To provide a Compliance Declaration you must be registered under the Compliance Declaration Scheme. Not all practitioners need to be registered, only the supervising designer who will sign off on the Design Compliance Declaration, the Principal Contractor, and the Principal Design Practitioner.

For more information on the classes of registration available and their eligibility requirements head to the NSW Fair Trading Website.

When do you need to provide a Compliance Declaration?

Design Practitioners

Registered Design Practitioners must provide a Design Compliance Declaration for any Regulated Design for use in Building Work on an NCC Class 2 Building or building containing a Class 2 element.

What is a regulated design?

A Regulated Design is any design, plan, specification, or report detailing a design that is prepared for a Building Element, or performance solution, for Building Work.

What is the definition of a “building element”?

A Building Element is any of the following:

  • Fire safety systems for a building
  • Waterproofing
  • An internal or external load-bearing component that is essential to the stability of the building, or a part of it
  • A component of a building that forms part of the building enclosure
  • Aspects of the mechanical, plumbing, and electrical services for a building that are required to achieve compliance with the BCA.

What is the definition of “building work”?

Building Work includes the construction of new buildings as well as alteration, addition, repair, renovation, or protective treatment of a Class 2 building.

Building Practitioners

A registered Building Practitioner must complete a Building Compliance Declaration online and lodge it on the NSW Planning Portal along with other Contractor Documents before applying for an OC (see below).

The Building Practitioner must give the Principal Design Practitioner (if appointed) at least 14 days’ notice before making a Building Compliance Declaration.

Principal Design Practitioners

A registered Principal Design Practitioner coordinates and collects designs and declarations from other practitioners. They must provide a Principal Compliance Declaration for all construction issued Regulated Designs before the Building Practitioner makes a Building Compliance Declaration.


For Variations to building work, the registered Design Practitioner must prepare a revised Regulated Design and give a new Design Compliance Declaration before variation work commences. The Builder must lodge the Revised Regulated Design and Design Compliance Declaration on the NSW Planning Portal within 1 day of work commencing.

What Building Work is excluded from the Compliance Declaration requirements?

The Design and Building Practitioner Act 2020 only applies to Building Work on NCC Class 2 Buildings (a building containing two or more dwelling units) or buildings with a Class 2 element. This definition captures the whole of a mixed-use building such as a shopping precinct with residential apartments above.

It does not currently apply to other NCC building classifications.

Clause 13 of the Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2021 contains some further exemptions such as:

  • Exempt Development work under the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979 (minor impact building work that satisfies requirements under the State Environmental Planning Policy (Exempt and Complying Development Codes) 2008).
  • Work conducted under a council order, or a development control order.
  • Work  (other than specialist work) for which reasonable market cost does not exceed $5,000.[1]
  • Some mechanical, plumbing and electrical services work, and fire safety systems work.
  • Some work carried out under the HomeBuilder Grant Scheme.

How do you prepare a compliance declaration?

Design and Principal Compliance Declarations should be prepared using the Standard Forms available on the NSW Fair Trading Website (links below):

The Building Compliance Declaration form is only available for online submission on the NSW Planning Portal.

When does a Compliance Declaration need to be lodged?

Stage 1: Before building work starts

The Registered Design Practitioner prepares the final Construction Issued Regulated Designs and Design Compliance Declarations and provides them to Client. The Client provides these to the Builder and the Certifier.

Lodgement Point #1: The Builder must lodge the Construction Issued Regulated Designs and Design Compliance Declarations on the NSW Planning Portal before commencing work.

Stage 2: After building work has commenced

Any variations on Regulated Designs need to be declared. the Registered Design Practitioner must prepare a revised Regulated Design and give a new Design Compliance Declaration before variation work commences.

Lodgement Point #2: The Builder must lodge the Revised Regulated Design and Design Compliance Declaration on the NSW Planning Portal within 1 day of work on the variation commencing.

Stage 3: Before the issue of an Occupation Certificate

The Builder must provide the Principal Design Practitioner with 14 days’ notice before making the Building Compliance Declaration.

Lodgement Point #3: The Builder prepares the Building Compliance Declaration and lodges it on the NSW Planning Portal along with a Contractor Document, which consists of:

  • a copy of each variation statement required for building work.
  • a copy of any other Regulated Design containing additional details not in the construction-issued Regulated Design but are not variations.
  • a principal compliance declaration, if a Principal Design Practitioner has been appointed.

Stage 4: After an OC has been issued

Lodgement Point #4: The Builder must lodge Regulated Designs showing any variations to building work within 90 days of OC being issued, or confirm online that no variations have been made.


For assistance or clarification around your obligations under the new compliance & registration regime, please don’t hesitate to reach out via the contact links below, or directly through the chat feature on this page.


[1] Design and Building Practitioners Regulation 2021 Clause 13(1)(h)

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