Building plan approvals

You could damage or limit access to our water, wastewater or stormwater assets when you build, excavate or landscape.

To protect our assets, we need to approve your building plans before you start any work.

If you’re building, excavating, or landscaping over or next to our assets, we must approve your plans before you start work. 

Our approval ensures your work won't damage or limit access to our assets. 

If you need to lodge a Development Application with your consent authority  for your building work, it will be a condition of their consent that you’ve had your building plans approved by us before receiving the construction certificate.

If you don’t get this approval before you do any work on our pipes, we may:

  • fine you for unauthorised work

  • recover any costs we incur due to the unauthorised work. This may be from restoring our pipes or third party claims.

If you’re building, excavating, or landscaping over or next to our assets, we must approve your plans before you start work.

You get this approval by using our building plan approval process. To start the process, lodge your plans at Sydney Water Tap in TM.

When you apply, we’ll ask a few short questions. We’ll use this information to tell you if your works might affect, or limit, access to our assets. There are two possible outcomes:

  1. We’ll approve your plans without further assessment.
  2. We'll refer you to a Water Servicing Coordinator for further assessment.

In most cases, the coordinator will assess and approve your proposal. They may need to refer your application to us for a detailed review. This is known as an 'out of scope' application.

At the end of the process, you’ll then be able to show your approved plans to your consent authority or certifier. 

A water servicing coordinator is a listed provider for Sydney Water. They can help you by:

  • reviewing your building plans and discussing options and/or requirements with you
  • advising what documents you need for your application
  • specifying asset protection requirements or alternate options
  • arranging supervision of concrete encasement and piering works (if they’re required).

The coordinator will act on your behalf in all dealings with us. You'll have to pay the coordinator, and any other provider you need to engage, for their services.

The coordinator can usually assess and approve your plans (with any requirements), without referring them to us. If your plans need a more detailed review, they’ll refer your application to us for an 'out of scope' application.

We recommend that you contact several coordinators to ensure you find the one most appropriate for you. They’re located across greater Sydney and service all areas.

Are you a developer? 
If you're a developer, a water servicing coordinator can also manage applications for Section 73 Compliance Certificates.

Find out what you need to know about the Steps for first time developers.

If your building plans fall outside the scope of a Water Servicing Coordinator, they'll refer your application to us for a specialised review or an 'out of scope' application.

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

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

Coordinators must refer building plans to us if you're:

We do a detailed review to ensure that::

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

You'll be required to pay us for the costs to review your application. Your Coordinator will provide you with details on these costs before submitting your application.

After we’ve completed our review and you've paid us the costs to review your plans, we’ll send our conditions for approval to the coordinator. They’ll help you meet those conditions and approve your plans.
If there's no impact on our assets (most cases), you'll get approval straight away. We'll give you an approval letter and charge you a fee.

If your application needs to be referred to a Water Servicing Coordinator, the coordinator will tell you when they can give you a response.

If the coordinator needs to refer your application to us as an 'out of scope' application and the application isn't complex, we’ll 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.

We've produced these guides to help you design your buildings:

If one of our wastewater pipes is in your proposed building’s basement, find out how you can manage this by reading our Reticulation sewers in basements guide.

Depending on your development type, you may also need a Section 73 Compliance Certificate.

For an 'out of scope' approval, you must ensure the work is designed and verified according to our Engineering competency standard.
Do you want to move our pipes?
You must have our approval if you want to move, remove or replace our pipes, including replacing them with temporary pipework.
If you have a question about:
Building new homes

Find out if you need building plan approval before you start any construction work.