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Can You Build a Granny Flat on Vacant Land?

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When building a granny flat there are very strict regulations that you must adhere to. Today I will address the topic of vacant blocks. That is, can you build a granny flat on vacant land?

 

The answer is a firm NO. According to the guidelines of State Environmental Planning Policy , a granny flat can only be built when there is already a principal place of residence.

 

But, are there any loopholes that will allow you to get around this regulation?

 

DON'T PAY A FORTUNE FOR YOUR GRANNY FLAT. Find out how to deal with council and build a granny flat for the lowest cost possible. Learn More.


Well, kind of…

 

Today I will cover the best method of potentially building a granny flat when you are in this situation.

 

I will discuss whether it is possible to build a granny flat, then “class” the main home as the granny flat. And I will explain how you can keep a caravan on your property as a granny flat. Finally, I will discuss whether it is legal to have “demountable” home on your vacant land.

 

Firstly: the Best Method to Build a Granny Flat is not to demolish the Primary Residence First

 

In accordance with the State Environmental Planning Policy (SEPP), one of the main requirements of building a granny flat is that;

  • It must be established in co-existence with another dwelling (the primary dwelling).

 

Meaning, you cannot build a granny flat on a vacant block. However, perhaps there is already a main home on your block of land that you are thinking of renovating, demolishing or rebuilding.

 

Your best options is to:

 

  • Build your granny flat first, before you knockdown the primary residence.

 

Can You Build a Granny Flat then “Class” the Primary Dwelling as the Granny Flat?

 

The regulations surrounding this are very unclear, but very unlikely.

 

You could always contact your local Council for their advice. After all, the worst you could get told is no.

 

Another option, and one that is known to be possible, is to:

 

  • Be approved to build both a primary dwelling and a granny flat at the same time on vacant land

BUT

  • The primary home must be ‘Occupiable’ (safe and capable of being occupied) first before you can get an ‘occupation certificate’ for the secondary dwelling.

 

Can You Keep a Caravan on Your Land as a Granny Flat?

 

This is also very unclear and very precarious grounds.

 

If the caravan becomes connected to the property’s electrical and sewerage systems, the Council may classify it as a ‘structure’. Again, this is up to individual councils.

 

Whilst unclear whether that ‘structure’ is classified as a granny flat, the Council may advise you that;

And thus provide you with an order to remove the caravan.

 

However, seek legal advice from the start, as a caravan is a movable, not permanent structure.

 

There are also rules about keeping a caravan on your property as long it is used for family members or people directly connected to the residence of the primary dwelling (main house).

 

See this snapshot below:

 

It may not work on completely vacant land but if you have another dwelling this information could help

 

As such, the Councils’ order may be invalid and could be revoked.

 

Demountable Homes as Granny Flats on Vacant Land – Is It Legal?

 

A de-mountable home, also known as a transportable home, are those homes that can:

 

  • Easily be moved from one place to another
  • Be built quickly and easily
  • Are very flexible to use

 

As such, you may think that they are legal on a vacant block.

 

But de-mountable homes are still classified as a granny flat and are NOT LEGAL on vacant land.

 

Adding a Tiny House to Your Vacant Land as a Granny Flat – Is it Legal?

 

A tiny house is a compact, transportable, and as the name suggests, tiny dwelling. Smaller than a granny flat, they are usually a maximum of 50sqm.

 

This is also very unclear and very risky grounds. However if the “Tiny Home” is fitted with wheels you can class them as a Caravan (See the image above about Caravan regulations) As it is a movable dwelling, the Council will technically classify a tiny house a “caravan”.

 

As such, it may come under the same regulations as a caravan, with approval for development required. However, your local Council also has the authority to limit the amount of time you can permanently live in one.

 

For more information on the exact regulations on tiny houses, please see an in depth article I wrote:  “Granny Flat vs. Tiny House”

 

Conclusion

 

If you are attempting to build a granny flat on vacant land, you are treading some very precarious grounds. According to the guidelines of SEPP, granny flats cannot be built on unoccupied land.

 

Rather, they can only be built on a property that has an existing house. So, if there is already a primary dwelling on your block of land, you can build a granny flat.

 

If you want to build that granny flat whilst you rebuild or demolish the primary dwelling, you must:

 

  • First build the granny flat

THEN

  • Knockdown the primary residence

 

Another option to consider, that it is possible to be approved for, is to:

 

  • Build both a primary dwelling and a granny flat at the same time AS LONG AS The primary home is ‘Occupiable’ first.

 

It is very unclear whether you can:

 

  • Build a granny flat then “class” the primary dwelling as the granny flat – Contact your local Council
  • Keep a caravan on your land as a granny flat – Seek legal advice
  • Keep a tiny house on your land as a granny flat – these may be classified as a “caravan”

 

Once the caravan is connected to your property’s electricity and sewerage, the Council may classify it as a ‘structure’.

 

Under the EPA Act, the Council can then order you to remove the caravan. However, as it is a movable and not permanent structure, this order may be annulled.

 

What is clear, however, is that it is illegal to have a demountable home as a granny flat on your vacant block. So, it is tough to build a granny flat on a vacant block, but not impossible.

 

I suggest you contact your local Council for their regulations. You may find they will offer some leniency. If not, the worst you could get told is no, and learn your restrictions. So, I hope this article has shed some light on exactly how you can build a granny flat on a vacant block.