Building plan approvals

What you need to know about the process

Building, excavation and landscaping projects all have the potential to damage or limit access to our water, wastewater or stormwater services. That's why we need to assess and approve your building plans before you start any work. If you can't find what you need to know about the process, call us on 13 20 92 8am–5:30pm Monday to Friday (except public holidays).

Sign up for Sydney Water Tap in®
Sydney Water Tap in gives you access to convenient online Sydney Water application forms for all sorts of building and development projects, and provides step-by-step instructions on what you need to support them.

Why you need approved plans

If you need to lodge a development application (DA) with your council or local authority for your building work, it will not consent unless we have approved your building plans. Without a DA, you won't get the construction certificate you need.

Plus, you may face fines and hefty additional costs. If you start work on our pipes before your plans are approved, you could be fined. We may also have to recover any costs that we incur from, for example, restoring our pipes or third party claims.

Check if you need council approval
Contact your local council to find out if your building or excavation needs development consent. If it does, council may not allow you to start construction until we've approved your building plans.

How we approve your building plan

  1. To start the building plan approval process, lodge your plans at Sydney Water Tap in
  2. We'll ask a few questions about your project and ask you to place your structure, or structures, on the property. We use this information to determine if your works might affect, or limit, access to our assets.
  3. We'll either approve your plans without further assessment or refer you to a water servicing coordinator. If you're referred to a water servicing coordinator, they will likely assess and approve your proposal.
  4. If your plans fall outside the scope of the water servicing coordinator, they may need to refer your application to us for a detailed review ('out of scope' application). You may need to fulfil some additional requirements before we can approve your plans.
  5. At the end of the process, you'll be able to show your approved plans to your consent authority or certifier.

What a water servicing coordinator does

A water servicing coordinator is a Sydney Water listed provider, who acts on your behalf in all dealings with us. You have to pay them for their services, just like any other provider, so we recommend that you shop around to find the one most appropriate for you.

Your coordinator can usually assess and approve building plans (with any requirements) without referring them to us. They'll:

  • review your building plans and discuss options and requirements with you
  • advise what documents you need for your application
  • specify asset protection requirements or alternative options
  • manage applications for Section 73 Compliance Certificates if necessary
  • arrange supervision of concrete encasement and piering works if they're required.

If your plans need a more detailed review, your coordinator will refer your application to us for an 'out of scope' application.


'Out of scope' applications

Your water servicing coordinator may find your building plans need to be referred to us for a specialised review. This is known as an 'out of scope' application. If this happens, you'll need to pay us for the costs of our review. Your coordinator will let you know how much it will be.

Our detailed review ensures:

  • our assets won't be damaged during or because of the construction 
  • we can access assets for operation and maintenance
  • your building will be protected if we need to work on assets in the future.

Plans that need to be referred

Coordinators must refer building plans to us if the building affects:

  • wastewater pipes larger than 300 mm
  • pressure wastewater pipes
  • water or recycled water pipes
  • a Sydney Water property or property with a Sydney Water easement within its boundaries
  • a property that has stormwater infrastructure owned by Sydney Water within 10 metres of the property boundary.

They must also refer building plans to us if you want to:

  • excavate a basement or building over or adjacent to one of our assets
  • remove water from solid material or soil (dewatering).

Once your plans are reviewed and the costs are paid, we'll send our requirements to your coordinator. Your coordinator will help you meet our requirements and then they can approve your plans.

How long your approval should take

If there's no impact on our assets, you'll be approved right away through Sydney Water Tap in. We'll email you an approval letter and you’ll be charged our current building plan approval fee.

If there is an impact on our assets, you'll need to refer your application to a water servicing coordinator. The coordinator will let you know when they can give you a response.

If the coordinator needs to submit an 'out of scope' application to us and it isn't complex, we generally send our conditions for approval within 42 days. This process takes a bit longer, as the plans need to be reviewed by one of our specialised engineers.

Track your application
Sign in to Sydney Water Tap in. If you've been referred to a water servicing coordinator, go to developer application progress.