Building granny flats 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 cosy units, also referred to as secondary dwellings, 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 understand all you need to know about the legalities of the approval process when you build a granny flat.

Let’s get right into it!

Requirements When You Plan to Build 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 alignment to NSW council requirements was monumental in speeding up the legal processes involved in constructing such a unit. However, specific guidelines must meet SEPP allowance qualifications to qualify for this allowance in South Wales.

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 spans up to 60 square metres and is Constructed in the yard, within the same property, of a pre-existing residence. Keeping this in mind, the NSW council has formulated a few minimum site requirements to build one without specialised permission.

If these requirements are not met, you may want to apply for a development certificate for your granny flat project. Otherwise, you can complete the entire process to plan and gain an occupation certificate for your granny flat within a 12-week timeframe.

Before you begin anything, measuring the construction area dimensions during a site inspection is recommended. The secondary dwelling on your property should span at least 450 square metres and have residential zoning.

While planning the dimensions of the granny flat, remember that there should be a minimum of three metres from the rear. The side boundaries also need at least 0.9 metres of clearance 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 allowance of three metres from any existing trees taller than six metres, 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 main house on your property. It must be 12 metres wide; otherwise, you may need council approval 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 slightly different rules to meet the necessary approval standards.

3. Setback Requirements

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

The minimum frontage for lots measuring 450 to 900 m2 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 be 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 2.5 metres, while the rear setback minimum is 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, a pre-existing house or building should be on the block of land before the granny flat can be built.

To qualify for the Affordable Rental Housing Policy, the lot must be zoned as a residential area.

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

Diagram Granny Flat

Installing A Granny Flat In Sydney

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

These adorable and cosy 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 with the building process 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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