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.

Granny Flat Meaning: The General Definition Of A Granny Flat

A granny flat refers to a self-contained living space found on the grounds of a single-family home. It is specifically designed to accommodate one or two individuals. You can either have it detached from the main house or connected to it. The popularity of this living arrangement stems from its suitability for families looking to care for their aging parents, which is why it has earned the endearing nickname “granny flat.”

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

By understanding the concept of granny flats, you can explore the various options available to meet the diverse needs and preferences of homeowners. These living spaces offer a blend of versatility and affordability, ensuring that aging parents have their own peaceful retreat or that homeowners have the flexibility to adapt to changing living arrangements. The granny flat has become an innovative solution in modern architectural design. Let’s delve deeper into this fascinating world and uncover the potential that granny flats hold.

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

When it comes to the size of a granny flat in Australia, it’s essential to consider the regulations set by your local council. These guidelines play a crucial role in determining the maximum dimensions for these cozy dwellings. Typically, in states and territories across the country, excluding WA and the ACT, granny flats are limited to a maximum area of 60 square meters. However, the rules become a bit more flexible in WA, where an allowance of up to 70 square meters is given. And if you find yourself in the ACT, you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the even more generous limit of 90 square meters.

These size constraints ensure that granny flats blend harmoniously with the existing residential landscape while maintaining a reasonable footprint. It also ensures that homeowners have ample space to accommodate their needs without encroaching on the surrounding environment. So, whether you’re looking to create a cozy living space for your loved ones or embarking on a new investment venture, familiarizing yourself with the specific size regulations in your area is vital.

By gaining a thorough understanding of these guidelines, you can confidently navigate the world of granny flats in Australia, knowing the permissible dimensions that bring your vision to life. Remember, each state and territory may have its unique rules, so it’s crucial to consult your local council to ensure compliance and make the most informed decisions. So go ahead, explore the possibilities, and create the ideal granny flat that perfectly suits your needs and preferences.

Can I Rent Out A Granny Flat

For those residing in New South Wales or Western Australia, here’s great news for you. You have the option to generate some extra income by renting out your granny flat.

Renting out a granny flat has become a popular choice among homeowners looking to make the most of their property investments. With the increasing demand for affordable, self-contained living spaces, your granny flat holds immense potential. By offering a cozy and independent accommodation option to tenants, you can tap into a steady stream of rental income while adding value to your property.

In both New South Wales and Western Australia, the regulations permit homeowners to take advantage of this income-generating opportunity. However, it’s crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific rules and requirements set by your local council or relevant authorities. By adhering to these guidelines, you can ensure a smooth and legal renting process while safeguarding the interests of both yourself and your tenants. Seeking advice from real estate experts or consulting a qualified professional can provide valuable insights to navigate the legal aspects and maximize your returns.

So, whether your aim is to enhance your financial situation or fully utilize your property’s potential, renting out your granny flat can be a smart strategy. Embrace the thriving rental market, attract responsible and reliable tenants, and witness how your granny flat becomes a valuable source of additional 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 Granny Flat Rules And Regulatory Requirements

Overview Of NSW Granny Flat Rules

When it comes to granny flats in New South Wales, their development and management are overseen by the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP). This planning instrument has been put in place to address various planning concerns across the state and aims to decentralize authority from local councils.

SEPP holds significant authority and empowers the following actions:

  1. Prohibition and Permission: SEPP can either prohibit certain developments in a specific region or allow certain activities to take place, even if the local government opposes them.

The introduction of the SEPP is rooted in addressing housing scarcity and the need for more affordable living spaces. Australia’s increasing population necessitates the development of land that might have otherwise remained untouched in backyards. By dispersing granny flats throughout local suburbs, this approach helps alleviate traffic congestion and offset excessive populations in densely populated areas.

In line with this objective, the SEPP actively encourages the creation of second dwellings, commonly referred to as granny flats. It does so by implementing the following measures:

  1. Streamlined Approval Process: Granny flats can be approved in as little as 10 days, facilitating quicker development.
  2. Residential Zoning: Granny flats can be constructed in all residential zones, providing homeowners with favorable conditions for development.
  3. Specific Criteria: The SEPP establishes certain criteria for the development of granny flats, ensuring compliance and maintaining cohesive urban planning.

While embracing the potential of granny flats, it’s essential to be aware of the building regulations and restrictions that govern their construction:

  1. Property Requirements: Granny flats must be located on the same property as the primary home and cannot be part of a community title scheme or individual lot in a stratum plan. A minimum 450-square-meter property is required (with a 12m street frontage).
  2. Size Limitations: Granny flats are generally limited to a maximum size of 60 square meters. However, detached studios have stricter limitations, with a maximum size of 35 square meters.
  3. Height and Setbacks: Building heights above 3.8 meters result in greater setbacks, although these restrictions may not apply when the structure’s height exceeds 3.8 meters. Only detached studios with a maximum height of 8.5 m are permitted.
  4. Property Zoning: The property must have residential zoning to accommodate a granny flat.
  5. Setback Requirements: The granny flat must have a setback of 3 meters from the rear boundary and 0.9 meters from the side boundaries.
  6. It must not be built over an easement (i.e., a drainage easement);
  7. Tree Considerations: A minimum distance of 3 meters must be maintained between existing trees that are over 4 meters tall.

By adhering to these regulations and guidelines, homeowners can navigate the process of developing a granny flat in New South Wales successfully. Before embarking on any construction, it is essential to consult with the local council and relevant authorities to ensure compliance and a smooth development process.

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.

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