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Granny flats – Recent changes to planning permissions

Planning permission for granny flats has recently changed, so here is some useful information on the changes and how to get started, if a granny flat looks like an ideal solution.

What is a granny flat?

A granny flat is a second dwelling on your property that is separate from your main house. These buildings are known as ‘granny flats’ because they have been typically used to house elderly parents or relatives.

A granny flat is a self-contained dwelling or unit built on an existing property. It can be attached or detached from the main house and is a part of the same title. Granny flats are usually fully self-contained.

Who can live in a granny flat?

Common granny flat occupants include a grandparent, an elderly parent, a teenage child, or a relative with a disability. Traditionally, a granny flat occupant had to be dependent on the person/s in the main home. The new changes, however, mean that Victorians may be able to rent out their granny flat. Check your local council’s requirements for the most up-to-date information.

What are the laws for granny flats in Victoria?

Requirements for granny flats are set by the Victoria Planning Provisions and prescribed in the Planning and Environment Act 1987. This is a guidance document that is used across the state for planning schemes to be constructed and administered by local councils.

Changes announced in September 2023, mean granny flats no longer require a planning permit if they are less than 60 square metres, so it will be easier to build a granny flat on your property.

While councils have different requirements, they typically require that the granny flat is movable and is only used to accommodate a person dependent on a resident of the main dwelling.

One other key consideration with the new rules is a granny flat may not be sub-divided or separately to the main dwelling.

What are the building considerations?

The new changes have stipulated the granny flat is to be under 60 square metres and part of a property which is larger 300 square meters with no environmental overlays.

Before starting the build, make sure to check with your local council for any further considerations on size, privacy requirements, and other specific guidelines.

And seek advice from a building professional. Laws and approval processes vary between local councils, so make sure you understand the exact building codes, regulations, permits and application processes in your area.

Some other steps will include:

  • Checking your certificate of title – make sure there are no restrictions or covenants on your property that would prevent you from building a granny flat.
  • Getting a survey report for your land – a building surveyor must come to your property and make land boundary and height measurements to confirm whether you have enough space to build, and what height your granny flat must be from ground level.
  • Buying construction plans or a kit – you can design your granny flat plans with a builder, architect, designer or draftsperson, who will then help you through the building process. Alternatively, you can buy an off-the-shelf or customised prefab granny flat kit.
  • Having your plans certified – you need your plans certified by a private certifier or a council certifier before you will get a construction certificate that allows you to start building.
  • Deciding on materials and fixtures – you will need to approve material options from your builder or kit supplier, or purchase them yourself if you plan to build your own granny flat from a prefab kit.

* We recommend you seek professional advice before embarking on any major change to your property.

Web image courtesy of: PJ Cook Building

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