Granny Flats In Australia: The Lowdown


The building of a granny flat anywhere in Australia is an extensive job that should not be taken lightly. There are plenty of things to consider before you begin the process, and we’ll go through them all here in this article.

What Is The General Definition Of A Granny Flat

A granny flat is a self-contained living space located on the grounds of a single-family home that is designed for one or two people. A granny flat may be detached or connected to the main house. Because it is a popular method for families to care for aging parents, it has been dubbed a “granny flat.”

The granny flat is also known as an accessory apartment or accessory dwelling unit (ADU) in the construction industry. Other names include granny pod, mother-in-law unit, in-law apartment, bonus unit, casita, carriage flat, and ohana house (particularly in Hawaii).

What Exactly Is A Granny Flat As Defined In Australia

A granny flat is a fully self-contained home extension or secondary dwelling constructed on the same lot as the primary home. It’s essentially another, smaller house on your property, ideally suited for elderly grandparents to live close by or for a burgeoning family in need of a teenager getaway.

What Size Can A Granny Flat Be In Australia

It comes down to local council rules that dictate what the maximum size of a granny flat can be. Generally, a granny flat is limited to no more than 60 square meters in states and territories other than WA and the ACT. WA is more lenient in allowing up to 70 square meters and the ACT is even more generous at 90 square meters.

Can I Rent Out A Granny Flat

If you are in New South Wales or Western Australia, you can rent out a Granny flat for that extra income.

What Is The Regulatory Approval Process For Building A Granny Flat In Australia

In Australia, you must ensure that you have the approval to build a granny flat on your land and follow state government requirements.

There are two ways you can satisfy all the regulatory requirements in Australia for building granny flats. You can submit a Development Application (DA) or a Complying Development Certificate.

In general, regardless of where you are in Australia, there are some basic requirements you will need to meet: 

  • The granny flat must be built in conjunction with another residence (that is, the primary home).
  • A granny flat cannot be in a individual lot strata plan or a community title scheme, and it must be on the same lot as the main house.
  • On your block of land, there is only one main home on the block of land (meaning the property has not been divided and is not in co-existence with a secondary house).
  • There’s enough space on the land to build the granny flat.
  • You abide by the set backs and boundary restrictions (described below)
  • There are no ‘easements’ (Parts of your land that you cannot build over, due to council needing it for example).

DA Process

Local councils conduct assessments of Development Applications (DAs) on a merit-based basis. Your application will be evaluated according to the council’s guidelines and parameters. DAs can be approved even when they do not meet those guidelines. In rare cases, councils may still approve your application.

 DAs consists of two stages, which include an assessment and a construction certificate submission after the assessment has been completed. 

Construction Certificates are intended to address planning aspects of building projects. A site plan, architectural plan, building specification, fire safety plan, and sustainability statement are all required.

Complying Development Checklist/Certificate Process

A CDC (Complying Development Checklist/Certificate) combines planning and construction approval. Application development is fast-tracked through this process. A certificate can be issued by either your local council or a private certifier. This results in a quicker process than a DA.

 Two steps are involved:

  • Every element must comply with a strictly defined checklist. The CDC will not be compliant if it fails to meet every regulation.
  • The second step is to include the Construction Certificate.

NSW Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

Overview Of NSW Granny Flat Rules

Granny flats are governed by the State Environment Planning Policy (SEPP), which is a planning instrument.

It is used to assess planning concerns throughout the state of NSW. SEPP was established to take some power away from your local NSW council.

Because of this, SEPP has the authority to do the following:

  • Prohibit certain developments in a region.
  • Allow activities to occur in a region, even if the local government forbids them.

They’ve been put in place because the authorities believe there is a housing scarcity and that we need more room/houses to live in at reasonable prices.

Due to population increases, and by developing land that would otherwise not have been built on in people’s backyards, the approach helps alleviate traffic congestion and excessive populations in smaller high-density areas. These are problems that develop from high-rise apartment buildings but not from local suburbs, where granny flats can be dispersed throughout.

The State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) encourages the creation of second homes, often known as granny flats, by the following:

  • Allowing granny flats to be approved in 10 days;
  • Permitting granny flats to be constructed in all residential zones;
  • Establishing specific criteria for the development of granny flats.

In general, the building regulations and restrictions for a granny flat are that it must be located on the same property as a primary home (not as a community title scheme or an individual lot in a stratum plan). It can be constructed within, attached to, or completely separate from the primary residence.

  • The following are some of the most essential particular regulations:
  • You may not build over an easement (i.e., a drainage easement);
  • A minimum 450-square-meter property is required (with a 12m street frontage);
  • The secondary dwelling size is limited to 60 square meters EXCEPT FOR Detached studios, which have a maximum size of 35 square meters;
  • Only detached studios with a maximum height of 8.5 m are permitted.
  • Building heights above 3.8 m result in greater setbacks; however, when the structure’s height exceeds 3.8 m, these restrictions do not apply.
  • The property must have residential zoning;
  • The Granny Flat must be 3m setback from the rear and 0.9m setback from the side boundaries.
  • The Granny flat must be at least 3m away from existing tress over 4m tall.

Vic Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

Victoria has some of the most stringent rules on granny flats in the country.

According to the legislation in Victoria, granny flats, known as DPUs, or Dependant Person Units, are not allowed to be rented. A granny flat can, for example, only be rented to a family member or dependent relative of the owner of the main residence in some council areas. They will need to have it removed afterwards. Privately rented or occupied granny flats are prohibited by some council rules. In accordance with the Planning and Environment Act, it is each council’s responsibility to enforce these rules.

It is usually necessary to name the DPU’s occupant at building time, depending on which council it is. Most DPUs have a kitchen and a bathroom and are connected to the site’s main house via sewer and water systems

When planning to build a DPU in Victoria, you must follow your local council’s rules and regulations. Prior to starting a granny flat construction project, it is recommended to consult the building and planning departments. Those departments can provide all the information you require for your particular area.

Here is a summary of rules for Granny Flats in VIC:

In Victoria, a granny flat is termed a Dependent Person’s Unit (DPU). It’s for a person who relies on someone else in the main house, such as a parent, grandparent, or adolescent child.

A DPU must include a kitchen, living area, bathroom, and toilet in order to be considered self-contained.

You must have a property area of at least 450 square meters.

The requirement for a portable structure varies by local authorities. Others want it to be easy to remove. This is done so that the granny flat may be removed as soon as the dependent no longer resides there. The term “movable” refers to a building that is made from non-permanent materials (i.e., no masonry).

Depending on your local Council, a building permit may be needed for your DPU. All of your local Council’s regulations must be considered. The individual who will live in the DPU is generally required to be named before construction begins.

Building codes, regulations, and permits differ from council to council. It’s critical to contact your local government about building codes, standards, and permits.

QLD Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

In Queensland, the maximum size for a granny flat is determined by your local Council. It will be roughly 60 to 90 sqm in size. Your local authority has the power to determine who may live in your granny flat unless you apply for a Development Application allowing it as a “dual occupancy.”

WA Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

The minimum property size for granny flats in Western Australia is 450 square meters unless your local council specifies it differently. The maximum floor space that may be allotted to a granny flat is 70 square meters. Although this can vary somewhat from one Council to the next, it is generally more flexible in rural areas. Approval from your town council is usually required before you can rent out your granny flat to non-family members, although this depends on the individual circumstances.

SA Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

In South Australia, a granny flat is known as a “Dependant Accommodation.” To get Development Approval from your town council, which must adhere to the framework of their Development Plan. The majority of councils will grant approval under the condition that an immediate family member lives in the granny flat. As a result, the unit must be connected to the same utilities (i.e., electricity, phone line, sewage, and water) as your main house.

Other SA rules include:

  • Your property must be at least 600sqm.
  • Your floor size must not exceed 60sqm or 70% of the main house’s total floor area (whichever is lower).
  • You may have no more than one separate bedroom.
  • You must offer at least 20 sq m of private open space.

 ACT Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

In the ACT, a granny flat, also known as a “secondary residence,” can be anywhere from 40 to 90 square meters. It must be on a 500-square-meter site and be located in a residential zone. It must be designed in a water-sensitive use manner, have space for people with disabilities, and meet their requirements. It may or may not be rented out but you must offer tenants with their own private open area as well as one parking space.

ACT Specific Regulatory Requirements For Granny Flats

In Tasmania, the maximum size of a Granny Flat is no more than 60 square meters (30 percent of the entire dwelling) and it must be proportionately smaller. They may be rented to anybody. There is no specific minimum block size in law; rather, there isn’t a state-wide policy on what you can and cannot do, so the rules will vary from one municipality to another.

There are still a few basic requirements to fulfill, such as obtaining building permits and obtaining an Occupancy Permit.

Recent Posts