Local councils in Australian states have different, and some rather strict, building regulations and planning codes when it comes to approval for the construction and use of separate lodgings or granny homes. Some can be used for accommodation for granny, for extra income from a tenant, a separate home for the teenagers or other relatives or friends or for B&Bs etc. But the introduction of new planning policies in Western Australia, the Australian Capital Territory, New South Wales, the Northern Territory and Tasmania to increase the supply of affordable rental housing have made it easier to get approval. All you have to do is to follow the rules of each state. In Victoria for example transportable or relocatable homes are popular due to the rules in that state.
How long before my Granny home is approved?
The process for approvals is quite short in NSW, NT, WA, TAS and ACT taking, in most cases, an average of between six and eight weeks. In other states it can take up to 12 months and the restrictions can be pretty tough.
How much land will I need?
This varies with each council but a rule of thumb is at the very minimum you need a 450m2 block and be aware that some regulations mean you can build only one extra dwelling per block of land.
How big can I build my extra home?
Size does matter here. Most granny homes or extra lodgings must be under 60sqm though regulations vary in each state. Some councils will let you have a carport and a verandah which means you can have a little over the 60sqm but only for these purposes.
Does it mean I have so subdivide?
No. The councils might allow you to arrange for a separate title, mailing address for power and gas bills, but you don’t have to subdivide your land and quite possibly would not be permitted to do so anyway – unless under a local council planning scheme it is allowed already.
Does my granny home have to be detached from my main home?
No. And your options vary from adding a granny home, adding an attached extension to your home, simply separating one part of the existing one, converting a garage, or building another storey on top of your garage. Be aware though that in NSW this latter alternative falls under different laws.
Would people want to rent my granny home?
Absolutely. Granny homes are sought-after rentals if they’re built well, near Universities, public transport and shopping. Rents are very competitive, and more granny homes are being rented out in Sydney than apartments or houses. Homeowners can now rent their granny homes in WA, NT, NSW, ACT and TAS, since the new rental regulations have come into force in these states. Such small homes can add value to your property as well.
Can I easily get finance?
Try to find a lender with some background experience in financing a granny home since some financiers aren’t all knowledgeable in this area. Ask if they can offer either a construction loan, or allow you access to the equity in your main home to build your extra accommodation.
Other considerations include:
- Granny homes can be built only on property zoned residential.
- The granny home applicant must own the primary dwelling.
- Granny homes can’t be built on community title or strata title or subdivided land.
- Granny homes must have pedestrian access that is unobstructed, separate and clear.
A rundown of granny home rules for each state:
- NSW: Your land size must be a minimum of 450sqm and the granny home cannot take up more than 60 per cent the property. These small homes can only be 60sqm, however carports, verandahs and patios can be added on.
- ACT: The size of your extra granny home can be up to 90sqm and any occupier need not be a relative, so it can be rented.
- WA: Secondary or granny homes can be rented out to tenants or used for family members. Floor size is generally up to 70sqm, though different councils may have differing rules regarding the area of the granny flat.
- NT: Here your granny home cannot be more than 50sqm in town and in rural areas 80sqm.
- VIC: In this state granny homes, called ‘Dependant Persons Units’, can only be a home for a family member and if that person moves out or dies, the dwelling has to be removed. This is why transportable or relocatable granny homes are so popular in Victoria.
- QLD: In Brisbane City, you need council approval if your granny home is over 80sqm or rented, but if it’s for a relative no approval is needed provided it is less than 80sqm and no more than 20m from the main home. But Ipswich has a ‘dual occupancy – auxiliary unit’ plan but says nothing about who occupies it. In Logan City a ‘secondary dwelling’ or granny home must be occupied by a family member but an ‘auxiliary dwelling’ can be a home for a tenant. The floor size can be no more than 70sqm.