There are multiple factors to consider when estimating the cost for a Development Application (DA) for Council. Most importantly, the cost estimate for the development has to be genuine, accurate, and at market cost. If the consent authority reviews the estimate as inaccurate, the authority is required to check the estimation, and for comparison, produce their own figure. If the variance is more than what the authority deems acceptable, the application will have to be revised.

Without the right resources and expertise, an applicant’s cost estimate for a DA submission is often inaccurate. In this case, the consent authority may undertake their own estimation, or alternatively, require a review from an independent Quantity Surveyor (QS). If the estimate is considered illegitimate, the applicant could face legal claims under the cl. 283 of the Environmental Planning and Assessment Regulation Act 2000 (NSW):

“A person is guilty of an offence if the person makes any statement, knowing it to be false or misleading in an important respect, in or in connection with any document lodged with a consent authority or certifying authority for the purposes of the Act or this Regulation.”

To increase the chances of a successful lodgment, engage a QS that uses cost indicators provided by reliable sources such as the Australian Institute of Quantity Surveyors (AIQS). As a registered member, they have unlimited access to technical guidance and updated manuals for accurate construction cost estimates. Construction cost changes over time and depends on the location of the development, thus estimates can be difficult to determine without the expertise and experience of a qualified QS. Finally, ask the consent authority to provide a table of development costs (often attached to the application form). Using a table adapted by the consent authority encourages a harmonious process with less confusion and misunderstandings. By easing the consent authority’s assessment process, you are reducing time spent waiting for the approval. However, if you are feeling apprehensive about your DA submission, engage a cost consultant that can guide you through the process.