Installing a granny flat is a great way to keep the entire family under one roof while maintaining privacy. 

Also known as accessory apartments or accessory dwelling units (ADU), these tiny houses are quickly rising in popularity among the elderly community. Not only do they bring the family closer without intruding on daily life, but they bring a sense of independence to grandparents and other residents. 

If you are interested in building one for your own Sydney home, getting through the paperwork can seem like an enormous task, especially for such a small construction. However, after reading our in-depth guide, you will know all the legalities of installing a granny flat.

Let’s get right into it!

Requirements Of Installing A Granny Flat In Sydney 

Drawing Granny Flat Plans

1. Council Approval 

In 2009, the NSW government passed the Affordable Housing State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP) to allow granny flats on properties. Of course, this was monumental in speeding up the legal processes involved in constructing such a unit. However, specific guidelines need to be met to become eligible for this allowance. 

For example, only residential homeowners and property investors can begin construction. Other prerequisites pertain to the size of the lot and residential zoning requirements. 

2. Site Requirements 

By definition, a granny flat has a footprint of 60 m2 and is constructed in the yard of a pre-existing residence. Keeping this in mind, the NSW council has formulated a few minimum requirements to build one without specialised permission. 

If any of these requirements are not met, you may need to apply for a special granny flat attachment for your home. Otherwise, you can complete the entire process to plan and construct the granny flat within 12 weeks. 

Before you begin anything, you should measure the dimensions of the construction area. The granny flat on a property should have at least 450 m2and have residential zoning. 

While planning the dimensions of the granny flat, keep in mind that there should be a minimum of three metres distance from the rear. The sides also need at least 0.9 metres of clearance from any boundaries on the lot. Internally, the granny flat should be no more than 60 m2; otherwise, it will require an attached granny flat approval. 

Additionally, the granny flat should have a distance of three metres from trees over six metres in height, allowing for insurance against potential damages from falling trees. 

Another consideration to consider when planning to construct a granny flat is the building line of the pre-existing residential building. It must be 12 metres wide; otherwise, you will need permission and apply for the attached granny flat. 

Following consideration of all these factors, the planning stage can commence. However, keep in mind that these are simply the minimum requirements needed. If your lot is more extensive, you should follow different requirements to remain in the safe approval zone. 

3. Setback Requirements

Depending on the size of your lot, the requirements for the setback can vary. They should follow the regulated size from the front, side, and rear to ensure proper clearance so that construction can begin without specialised permission. Lot sizes are grouped into three according to their respective minimum setbacks and frontage clearance requirements. 

For lots measuring 450 to 900 m2, the minimum frontage should be 12 metres. As for the side and rear, setbacks should have a clearance of at least 0.9 metres and 3 metres, respectively. 

The second classification of lot sizes is 900 to 1500 m2. With this slight increase in area, there is also an increase in the front clearance needed; here, the required minimum distance is 15 metres. Additionally, the side setback should have at least 1.5 metres, while the rear needs to be 5 metres high on the setback. 

Finally, the largest lot classification is 1500 m2 or more and needs at least 18 metres of frontage clearance. Likewise, the side setback needs to be 2.5 metres, while the rear setback minimum is set at 10 metres. 

As you can tell, the size of larger lots comes with a more extensive set of minimum requirements. One benefit is that the height of the granny flat itself does not have a limitation so long as the total height is within 8.5 metres. So, as long as you follow the front and rear setback requirements, you shouldn’t run into any issues. 

4. Multiple Floors 

According to the SEPP Affordable Rental Housing Policy, you can build granny flats above an existing building or garage. Alternatively, it can stand alone as a double-storey construction. 

When constructing a granny flat with multiple floors, you should give special attention to the sizing of the setbacks. At the same time, the height of the entire construction should not exceed 8.5 metres from the ground. So long as you meet the setback requirements, the NSW legislation will not demand special permission for construction. 

5. Residential Zoning 

To commence constructing a granny flat without explicit approval from the NSW legislation, the lot it is being built on should be occupied. In other words, there should be a pre-existing house or building on the lot before the granny flat can be built. 

The lot needs to be zoned as a residential area to qualify for the Affordable Rental Housing Policy. 

Your local council can make an exception if you own a lot located in an equivalent zone, as per your local laws. Remember that building a granny flat in zones classified as R5 is only possible via the DA.

3d Diagram Of Granny Flat

Installing A Granny Flat In Sydney

With that, you should be ready to begin building your granny flat. So long as you remain within the limits of the building requirements, there should be no issues with the NSW legislation. 

These adorable and cozy homes are a fantastic alternative to having separate houses for extended family members. Not only are they ideal for their sentimental value, but they also cost less than other housing alternatives for elderly persons. 

Indeed, keeping our loved ones close is more important than ever. And granny flats are probably the best solutions to accomplish this in the most hassle-free way. 

Are you ready? Get to measuring, and put up a granny flat with confidence!

And, if you have questions or need assistance building a granny flat in Sydney, reach out to our professional carpenters anytime. We are here to help!

It’s a Match

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