As the name suggests, a granny flat is a small one-bedroom cabin-like structure which is either fixed or moveable. It is intended to be used by an elderly relative to stay close to the family house, while they still retain their independence with their own personal space. Granny flats come in all shapes and sizes but, in many cases, they need adaptations like ramps and handrails installed, depending on the mobility of the resident.
After deciding to buy or build your own granny flat, you end up with a question. Can I simply put up a granny flat or would I need council approval? What obstacles are there that I need to understand and negotiate? Read this article below for detailed information about building a granny flat in Victoria and other Australian states.
In Australia, you need to have a permit to build a “Dependant Person’s Unit” or DPU, which is the legal denomination for a granny flat. In most states it can only serve as a self-contained housing unit for a family member or dependent who lives there due to health or economic reasons.
You will also have to refer to your local council and state guidelines for any government fees that can be enforced in the construction of a granny flat. Building permit fees can reach around $2,000 in some areas, but in some cases a granny flat might be exempt from that if it is a moveable building.
In Victoria, you will need a permit to build a granny flat. Requirements are that you have a minimum property size of 450 square meters, and the DPU must only serve as an accommodation for a dependent of the person in the main home. With some of the most severe rules for granny flats in Australia, Victoria also doesn’t allow a granny flat to be rented out or serve any other purpose.
Some local councils require that granny flats in Victoria must be a moveable building or are able to be easily removed from the ground. This is so the granny flat can be easily removed from the property as soon as its resident stops living in it.
Granny flats in Victoria must be self-contained, meaning that it will need to have its own kitchen, living area, bathroom and toilet, but can share sewage and water services with the main residence. Even if your granny flat is just an extra bedroom that you intend for people to live in, the national building codes guidelines will have to be followed before proceeding with construction. As a general rule, any backyard structure with an area of over 10 square meters will require a building permit in most Australian councils.
There are harsh consequences for building a granny flat without approval, from high fines to straight demolition of the structure. House insurance can also be voided, if there are any irregular structures inside the property, so it is certainly not worth the risk. It is recommended to make sure that you conduct all relevant research both with state and local governments to avoid any issues and ensure the best possible outcome can be achieved for your granny flat.