If you’re planning to build a granny flat or extra bedroom in Melbourne, you need to understand what’s required before your project can proceed.

A building permit is required before you can build a granny flat in Melbourne, or any backyard structure more than 10sqm in size. We can introduce you to some people in Melbourne who can help our customers through the planning and approval process. Depending on which installer or builder you’re using, they also might be able to help you with approval requirements. Movable buildings (Backyard Pods built on skids) might suit some projects without a building permit being required. Some councils in Melbourne require that all DPUs (dependent person’s units) are movable buildings.

Read below for answers to frequently asked questions about granny flats in Melbourne, and links which may help you with local government regulations. Please click this button below when you’re ready to enquire about a granny flat or extra bedroom in Melbourne:

Once you’re across the requirements, please talk to us for more information on how to get approvals organised, and how to get granny flats installed (if not DIY) and services connected using a licensed plumber and electrician.

FAQ about granny flat approvals Melbourne

What is a granny flat in Melbourne? And what is this thing called a “DPU”?

A granny flat is a secondary dwelling on your property where there is already a primary residence. In many areas of Australia, secondary accommodation is classified as a ‘granny flat’ whether or not it is being occupied by a family member or someone else, occupied full or part-time, rented out, or non-commercial. However, in Melbourne (unlike NSW), it is not easy to get approval for a secondary dwelling intended for rental. It is easier to get approval to accommodate a dependent family member in a granny flat or backyard studio, or what the Victoria government calls a “dependent person’s unit” (DPU). Family members could qualify for the occupation of a DPU due to health or economic reasons, for example.

Some councils insist on a DPU being a “movable building”. Backyard Pods can be installed on skids (rather than foundation piers) to allow for easier relocation in future if needed, and therefore can likely satisfy the requirement for a “movable building” under local council definitions. We can introduce you to people in Melbourne who have offered to help our customers with advice and suggestions in this regard.

What if it’s just a bedroom with no kitchen or bathroom?

You still need approval for an extra bedroom as it is somewhere you’re proposing for people to live in, to some extent, even if it’s just for sleeping occasionally. The building permit process also ensures structures that are intended for someone to sleep in are compliant with the national building code for safety and energy efficiency. Also, in Melbourne, any backyard structure more than 10sqm will require a building permit or satisfactory compliance as a movable building – no matter what the intended purposes, even for a home office, workshop, or craft studio without even a sofa bed inside.

Are there fees involved in getting granny flats approved in Melbourne?

Yes, throughout Australia there are fees involved in getting building approvals, whether this is done through a local council or private building certifier. The amount of these fees varies between councils, processes, and proposed projects. In Melbourne, the typical cost of obtaining a building permit (including structural drawings, compliance processes, etc), through a registered architect in Melbourne who is familiar with the Backyard Pods building system, is around $2,000. Movable buildings are a different category and if your project qualifies, building permit fees may not apply.

What else is needed to get Melbourne granny flat approvals?

You can save time in the process by obtaining a copy of the site plan and sewerage diagram for your property (ask the local council). You will also need to get professional drawings of your site and proposed structure (we can refer you to people who can help). There are complex forms to be completed and you can get help with these too.

Are there consequences for building a Melbourne granny flat without approval?

Where granny flats have been constructed without approval, councils may insist on demolition and perhaps impose fines. At best, further works and expenses could be incurred to obtain approval retrospectively. Having a non-compliant structure on your property could also void the insurance on the main residence should an incident occur. The lack of compliance could seriously compromise the value of your home if resold in future. It’s not worth taking risks. Follow the regulations that apply in your area for everyone’s safety and peace of mind.