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  • Writer's pictureSean Wilson

Granny Flats Regulations Explained - South East Queensland

Understand the city council guidelines, technical jargon and how you can plan for financial success!

An annexed unit is an attached or detached building on the same title as an existing property. Uses and limitations apply and vary from local council to local council.

In the Beginning

In the great state of New South Wales there is something going on called a 'granny flat revolution'. It is a bit of a phenomenon because it is allowing mum and dad's to positively gear already existing properties.

This is happening because the state government in NSW has mandated legislation that actually forces local councils to allow granny flats (or annexed units) to be built with approvals. This allows mum and dad investors to build and rent out these buildings for a great profit.

Where we are in Queensland, no such thing has happened yet. We have no such state law, and no 'granny flat revolution' to speak of. Or so we all thought!

Planning Codes Vary Between Councils

The building code is a nation-wide code for building. A planning code however, varies from local council to local council. We know what works and doesn't work in various local councils around Brisbane. We will work with your in preparing and submitting your applications, the design of your granny flat, and all through construction.

As you can imagine, this makes a huge difference in the ability to make a positively geared property work or not.


South East Queensland City Council Overview


Granny flats can either be secondary dwellings - rented to family members, or dual occupancy - auxiliary units - rented to unrelated people. For blocks over 1000m2 you can build a 100m2, 3 bedroom granny flat and rent it out. For any blocks under 1000m2 you can build a 70m2, 2 bedroom granny flat and rent it out. These are self-assessable applications.


No definition for annexed units. They are classified as 'out-buildings/secondary dwellings'. Can be fully self-contained with separate laundry. Maximum self-assessable size of 100m2. 


Annexed units / secondary dwellings can be built up to 70m2 and be self-assessable depending on land overlays and constraints. Enforcement officers have been giving landlords trouble over this but City Council has been defeated in numerous tribunal decisions and thus enforcement notices have started to be withdrawn. This issue has caused some confusion with the legality of renting out secondary dwelling legally. However at the moment, the use code is the same as a house, and can contain up to 5 unrelated persons. Anything above this is considered multi-unit housing or a dual occupancy.


For family purposes only, with a maximum size of 60m2. Must be built in similar matching materials to the existing house on the block.


Self-Assessable vs Code Assessable vs Impact Assessable

In most town plans, the assessment of applications falls into one one of three categories:


A self assessable application is an application which the council will not accept applications for. Instead, they will direct the applicant to lodge the application through a private certifier, who will then assess the proposal according to the council's published application tables in their town plan. This documentation is open to public viewing and download. Simply head to your local council website, select planning and development, and select the current town plan scheme. Most documents are in PDF format.


A code assessable application is the basic application that council will accept. The most common is an MCUC (Material change of use - code assessable) application. These applications are typically for proposals which would otherwise be self assessable but due to some overlays or constraints, or due to not meeting the self assessable 'acceptable outcomes'  are now code assessable. This code assessable application means applications can take up to 4 extra weeks to process, cost a minimum extra of $1050 and may incur extra costs. This depends on wether council requires any extra evidence to assess the application. An example would be a steep slopes overlay triggering an application (code assessable) and the council requiring a report from a geotechnical engineer to assess the slope stability.


An Impact assessable application is one which typically meets no acceptable outcomes in either the self assessable or code assessable code tables. These projects require extensive evidence gathering and expert analysis. Costs for these projects are best managed by qualified town planners and approached with extreme caution for first time or inexperienced investors. The application fees for these applications can be very high, as well as fees from expert reports and other evidence gathering. The time taken to process these applications can vary greatly, but is usually higher than the expected 4 weeks in the code assessable applications.


Why Build Annexed Units?

Most annexed units or secondary dwellings are self-assessable.​

We advise our clients at our first meeting if their proposals are self assessable or not. Call today for an obligation free assessment.

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