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Granny Flat Privacy & Separation – We Breakdown the Rules

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  • Granny Flat Privacy & Separation – We Breakdown the Rules

If you’re thinking about adding a granny flat to your property, a common concern is: What are granny flat privacy requirements?


The main regulations that a granny flat needs to adhere to are regarding the Principal Private Open Space (PPOS) and Landscaped Area rules. This includes a minimum setback of 3m from the back boundary fence and 900mm from the side boundary fences. These dimensions can change and are related to the height of the granny flat.


Today I will discuss the best ways to establish privacy. And share design ideas including soundproofing and the best shrubs to use when looking to use natural solutions.


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Best Ways to Create Granny Flat Privacy


To give you an idea of what you need to achieve privacy, I will first discuss the regulations. It’s crucial to comply to these to achieve both visual and acoustic privacy.


Principal Private Open Space (PPOS)


A granny flat might have a usable patio according to your council. One that is directly accessible from the living area. The minimum size depends on your local council, but typically must be at least 24sqm from the councils I spoke with.


Landscaped Areas


The minimum size of the landscaped area depends on the size of your block. Again, regulations depend on your local council.


However a typical guideline is:


  • Block Size – 450-600sqm, landscaping areas = 20%
  • Block size – 600-900sqm – landscaping areas = 25%
  • Block size – 900-1500sqm – landscaping areas = 35%
  • Block size – 1500sqm or more – landscaping areas = 45%


Please note that 50% of these areas must be behind your primary dwelling. So it does require careful planning to create a visually appealing new building.


You must also ensure it doesn’t detract from your principle dwelling. This means ensuring visual privacy by providing landscaping, which enhances the all-over aesthetic appeal.


Cheap Ways to Create Privacy for Your Granny Flat


Firstly, think about what type of granny flat you are going to build. A detached building is freestanding.


It has its own front door and no connection to the main home. So, a detached building immediately offers the most privacy.


Other cheap ideas that create privacy include:


  • Face the granny flat towards the back fence, not your garden. This way, you are not looking at each other if sitting outside.
  • Speak to your local council about their regulations.


Then approach them with your Development Application (DA) and building plans. Have your granny flat as close to the back fence as allowed.


However it is important to note that Granny Flats need to be at least 3m from a back fence boundary. And if the granny flat is over a certain height (depending on your local council) it means you will have to be back further from the back fence.


For instance; my granny flat had to be over 6m from the back fence. As it was built on piers and was much higher than the average cabin build on a concrete slab.


Also, I strongly suggest speaking to your neighbours before going ahead with anything. Being a permanent structure, you won’t be able to change anything later on 🙂


Another logical consideration might be to build a higher back fence, with council permission of course.


Design Ideas to Create Privacy


  • Seamlessly link your two dwellings together by installing a path. Separate the garden area with a gate to ensure privacy.



  • Depending on the size and layout of your block, install a divider.
  • Consider blocking off the flat from your home with screened or colorbond fencing.
  • Create visual appeal and link the properties by painting the fence
  • Section off garden and parking spaces.


There are no rules saying you must provide space for parking for your tenants.


However, it is easier than having them park behind your car. To avoid this whilst creating more privacy, build your granny flat with its own garage or carport if this is possible of course.


A garage can have an adjoining door so your tenant can enter directly from their car without having to go outdoors. A carport can have a similar design so they can enter straight from their car into their front door.


Having off-street parking (if you have the space for it) is a great idea. This is highly desirable to future tenants if you are wanting to rent your granny flat out.




You may already have an idea in mind, but it helps to hire a professional. Sketching your design with an expert will help you consider things like size, structure, measurements and layout. This will ensure you allow a decent amount of space to divide the dwellings.


  • Be aware of access to the granny flat.


Consider a side access gate, providing your tenants their own entrance. This prevents them from disrupting you when they enter or exit.


  • Consider using water features.


Water features are great for landscaping, if you have enough space. If not, you could create a mini-water feature such as a small fountain or bird bath.


Soundproofing Ideas for Added Privacy


Soundproofing is important for privacy when you’re building two buildings close together. In fact we have an in depth guide for soundproofing a granny flat here.


The great news is; (as you can see from the link above) there are many things you can do to reduce sound both to and from the secondary dwelling.


To summarise see the points below:


  • Distance – The two dwellings should be built as far apart from each other as possible. This may be hard depending on the size of your block. However, the further apart the dwellings are, the less sound can be heard between them.


  • Obstacles – Sit your granny flat between existing obstacles or create new ones. This includes sheds, garages, shrubs and fences. The denser the objects the greater the impact on reducing sound will be.


  • External Facade – Construct the granny flat in brick or concrete blocks.


These do not have acoustic properties.


  • Windows – Minimise the number of windows facing the main home.


If you have a lot of windows you can use double glaze them, but this can be costly. Another options could be to use sound proof curtains or a secondary product which can be fitted after the build is completed


I have heard curtains can only do so much and the other options of creating a double glazing effect is very pricey. For example fitting Magnetite to a sliding door window might set up back over $5000.



Be sure to install the batts before the plastering is done. If you can provide two or more of these elements, you’ll achieve excellent privacy.


Best Shrubs to Use and Which Grow the Fastest


Hedges and shrubs make great privacy borders between the main home and granny flat.


When designing your garden and choosing your plants, understanding the local ecology is essential. You must choose plants that will thrive in your climate.


I will give you a range of the best shrubs to use in which weather conditions. All are fast growing, so you can choose those which suit your environment and style best.


Syzygium (Lilly pilly)


Lilly pillys are a popular choice as they grow up to 5m. They are sturdy, capable of dealing with most climates.


They are easily pruned into your desired shape. In spring lilly pillys have white fluffy pom pom flowers. This is followed by small pink edible berries.


There are two types of lilly pillys;


Photinia ‘Red Robin’ 


The Photinia grows enthusiastically and has attractive, abundant foliage. They are a popular choice due to their vibrant red leaves on new growth and delicate white flowers in spring.


They can grow up to 5m and handle both frost and full sun.



Pittosporum Tenuifolims


This shrub has a range of dense tight leaves in various shapes and colours. So you can find one to suit a classical style, or one for a more informal building. They are suitable for the coast, and sun to part-shade positions.





This popular shrub has pretty little white flowers in late winter to early spring.


For many varieties of Viburnums, black or blue berries follow flowering. There are different sizes of leaf to suit your style. Viburnum tinus, a small leaf, suits informal styles.


Viburnum odoratissimum (“Sweet viburnum”), a larger leaf, has endless, thick, gleaming foliage. Viburnums are not overly fussy, but a part sunny to part shade position will keep them healthy.


They also like soil enriched with well composted manures, so fertilise twice yearly.




Hardenbergia (Climber)


This everlasting climber will grow up to 6m high. Its only preference is sunny to semi-shade positions.


They are a popular choice due to their white, pink or purple pea-like flowers. They are very sturdy and can grow in every climatic zone in Australia. You can prune them any way after they have flowered. An easy-care variety with beautiful white flowers is the ‘Edna Walling Snow White’.





Bougainvilleas are admired as they mould to any shape to suit your requirements.


They are also flamboyant, with fluorescent colours that turn heads. Available from small ‘Bambino Bougainvillea’ to standard Bougainvilleas, you can choose from fabulous range of colours and heights.


They are tough, favouring dry climates.





Bamboo is commonly used as a screening plant as it grows quick, is strong, and no-fuss.


Ensure you pick a clumping bamboo variety. These clump rather than sending out underground shoots or spreading out-of-control.


Bamboo ‘Gracilis’ is ideal to be used for limited spaces.



Climbing Roses


Climbing roses are popular as they suit many styles.


Many grow quickly with dense foliage. Floribunda are a great choice – they are hardier and easier to care for than other varieties.


Keep in mind they do lose some leaves in winter.


Source: Treloarroses


Pencil pines


Pencil pines are an excellent choice, as they don’t have a broad root-zone.


They’re also relatively inexpensive. They are hardy, preferring moist, well-drained, fertile soil in full sun but can adapt to semi-shade positions.


Source: Tutu Guru


Visit your local hardware store or nursery to discover what stylish choices they have to offer you.




It’s important to design your new granny flat with intentions to create visual and acoustic privacy between the two areas and its occupants.


This can be achieved through careful landscaping design to enhance the aesthetic appeal of both dwellings. Please note the rules vary between local councils, therefore I suggest you contact your local council before proceeding.