Do Victorian residents need a building permit to erect a backyard pod? We explore this issue and offer some insight into our new and exclusive free online self-assessment tool.
The tiny house movement has taken the world by storm. People are using this concept to create everything from a permanent home to studio space. In Australia, Backyard Pods has taken the concept to some exciting new levels and offers fast, low-cost solutions. Our pods are versatile and can be used for a granny flat, guest room, home office, teenage retreat, studio, craft room, sleep-out backyard bedroom, extra bathroom, laundry etc. However, before jumping into a new pod there is plenty to consider including a building permit.
In Melbourne and regional Victoria, navigating through the Victorian Building Permit requirements is a complex process filled with reams of red tape. This is further complicated by the varying specifications that local councils stipulate. Backyard Pods is happy to announce the launch of its handy free online self-assessment tool. The objective is to streamline everything and help Victorian residents ascertain whether or not they need a building permit. (Separate customised self-assessment tools will soon be launched for NSW, Queensland, and the ACT.) Let’s dig a little deeper into the tool’s purpose.
Often, the necessity for a building permit is dependent on size and the difference between a ‘habitable room’ and a ‘non-habitable room’. The BCA (Building Code of Australia) definition of habitable and non-habitable revolves around the following statement. Rooms or spaces that are not occupied frequently or for extended periods are considered non-habitable. So if you intend to use your pod for things other than storage then the type of usage will need to be clarified.
Building Code Definition:
Habitable room means a room used for normal domestic activities, and —
- includes a bedroom, living room, lounge room, music room, television room, kitchen, dining room, sewing room, study, playroom, family room, home theatre, and sunroom; but
- excludes a bathroom, laundry, water closet, pantry, walk-in wardrobe, corridor, hallway, lobby, photographic darkroom, clothes-drying room, and other spaces of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods.
However, there is room for interpretation. Backyard Pods are highly proficient in building code matters and will be able to help you determine if your habitable room or space could fall under a definition that doesn’t require a Vic or Melbourne building permit. Our business colleague, respected Melbourne architect Nam Huynh, has also shared his wealth of knowledge with us regarding feasibility studies, design development, planning applications, permit documentation etc. Nam’s expertise has been highly instrumental in the development of our online self-assessment tool.
Granny Flats for Dependent Persons
A Dependent Person’s Unit (DPU) is a structure that is built on your property for a person that is dependent on the residents living in the main dwelling. Commonly, a DPU is inhabited by a family member and cannot be occupied or rented privately. A DPU can include a kitchen and bathroom. It usually shares its sewer and water services with the site’s principal residence. Your local council has rules and regulations that need to be followed. However, normally a planning permit is not required in Victoria if a building is used as a DPU and meets the requirements as detailed in Building Regulations 2006, schedule 18, item 18. Most local councils require the occupant of the DPU to be named at building time. Backyard Pods are happy to help you with further information about a DPU.
Conditions to Note Regarding Position
When planning your backyard pod you should take some time to think about the position. If the building is within 1m of the boundary title, a re-establishment survey is required for works along existing boundaries. It is advisable to keep 1m off the fence for ease of erection and fire rating requirements. If the proposed works are near an EASEMENT then stormwater depth and offset plan for stormwater pipe are required. Seek approval from the relevant authority.
As you can see, when it comes to planning and building permits there are lots of things to consider. For some speedy assistance go to our free online self-assessment tool at https://www.backyardpods.com.au/vic-building-permit-self-assessment-tool/ If you have further questions or require more detailed information go to the Backyard Pods contact page where you can access our helpful team. https://www.backyardpods.com.au/contact/