At ACT Studios, we absolutely have you covered on the approvals front. Having said that, let’s be
real, approvals are tricky! Every Job offers up different challenges and different circumstances, and
the rules are constantly changing. However, we have a team who have completed 100’s of approvals
for class 10a structures here in the ACT and have seen almost everything when it comes to the
planning rules.

In the ACT we get 80% of our studios, home office, home gyms, teenage retreats etc. approved as
10a structures. The avenue we take is called a DA exempt building approval, issued by a private
certifier. We can achieve these types of approvals in as little as 4-6 weeks!


10a is the building classification for a non-habitable structure, meaning that the structure is not
designed as a dwelling. In the ACT a dwelling is defined by having the below 3 elements. Kitchen
AND bath or shower AND toilet.

  • At least 1 but not more than 2 kitchens

  • At least 1 bath or shower

  • At least 1 toilet pan

So, a bathroom with a wet bar is defined as a non-habitable building, easy peazy.

Criteria to achieve legislation requirement

  • On blocks larger than 600sqm the structure can be no larger than 50sqm
  • The structure must be set back 15m from the front boundary
  • The structure cannot be higher than 3m along a boundary
  • The structure cannot be higher than 4m overall
  • The structure cannot have more than 30sqm of wall with 1.5m of a boundary – for example if the shed is 3m high it cannot be longer than 10m if it is within 1.5m of a side boundary. If you are further than 1.5m from the boundary then you can have a wall with a larger surface area, however you must still adhere to the max 50sqm footprint overall
  • The structure must not be in an easement
  • The structure must not interfere with access to service providers. This is to say if you have a stormwater easement at the rear of the property you can block access to the pipe with your garage, at the very worst you must put a roller door on the back (like this project here) of 2.5m x 2.5m so that in the event the pipe bursts the service provider can get to the pipe and excavate it.

HOWEVER, to be exempt from DA you still need to meet some hard and fast rules that are outlined
by the local government in the 2008 planning and development regulation. Specifically the section
entitled Schedule 1 outlines what is and isn’t exempt from development application in the ACT.

Fail to meet the criteria

If your desired structure does not meet these requirements, then a second piece of legislation can
be used to approve a structure as being exempt from DA, this is the Single Dwelling Housing code. It
is unlikely that this code will be required due to the nature of the studios we offer, so we won’t go
into detail here.

Lastly, don’t worry if your preferred studio won’t be deemed as exempt from DA, ACT Studios can
still lodge the job as a DA and go through this process for you. Remember if you would like the
structure deemed as dwelling or granny flat then a DA is a must. This process typically takes closer to
4-6 months.