How To Get Your Secondary Dwelling Approved

We have had a lot of experience with designing and preparing granny flats for approvals from flat site to your more complicated sites. They might be small but can be a large job when it comes to seeking approval on more difficult sites.

Did you know you can fast track your approval? For you to find out requires homework. First you need to obtain from council a current planning certificate, this should cost no more that $60. The your need to gather information about your site, getting a detailed site survey is critical as approval under the SEPP comes down to millimeters.

I have put a list of tips and information you need to concider when positioning, designing and seeking approval for a Granny Flat or to be more technical a Secondary Dwelling so you do not go wasting your time and money with granny flat building companies who are getting their sales team to get you signed and locked in so they can make a sale.

Again this is best to do your own home work with any project otherwise you will waste your time and money.

If your design does not meet the requirements of the SEPP then going to council is your next option, in most cases they can approve secondary dwellings without the need to provide parking as well as a minimum lot size. Then if you cannot meet the secondary requirements for council your next option is a Dual Occupancy. Dual Occupancy triggers additional rules such as parking and private open spaces requirements, but with the Right architect these can be worked through.

The next big tip is knowing your costs! Check with the council their fees. You need to consider the cost of your survey, design fees, approval fees, engineering but you will need stormwater design, Long Service Levy’s and council contributions. This amount will shock you and so best to allow these in your budget before even starting this type of project. And don’t think going with a builder your not going to have to pay for design, surveys, engineering fees or approval fees. You will need to pay for this like you would with an architect but the difference is if you go with the builder they won’t let you take the plans to other builders so you cannot look for the best price and your also locked into their selections and also their prices. Check out a video we prepared on knowing your costs here.

Considering using the Right architect for your design and approval plans, then the plans are yours to take to any builder you choose so you can get the best possible build cost.

Use The LTAA Architecture For Your Secondary Dwelling Project

The structure you are looking to build? Lightweight cladding or brick veneer? Who will be living in it? will it be a rental or is it for your family? this will determine your finishes and selections your want to add to your project. I suggest taking your plans into your local real estate agent to give you some advice. Check the market, is the design best to be a 1 bedroom or 2 bedroom and if so what is your return on your investment?

You can have secondary dwellings within an existing shed or within an existing structure of the main house. I strongly suggest it is best to have a BCA consultant inspect your structure and ensure the slab and vapor barriers are installed as this is to meet the minimum standard of construction required for a dwelling class 1 building.

Also other areas of compliance to consider is ceiling heights, as another issue as when the proposed secondary dwelling is under an existing dwelling you need to make sure there is enough room. The NCC requires fire separation measured installed, this is fine but your architect must ensure your ceiling heights comply after the installation of the fire proofing. As if your ceiling heights do not comply with the minimum noted in the BCA well then the proposal could be stopped at that point. Please note council or the PCA do not check this so it is critical to check this first.

I hope this has helped you or a friend to weather a secondary dwelling is the best option for you. The key to all of this is preparation and taking your time in understanding what is involved.

We offer a onsite Pre design service or book a free consultation here which we go through all these steps with you to make sure the proposal and approval is achievable. Either give me a call on (02) 8279 2266 or email me at

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