Approval Guidelines

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Our Granny Flats are custom designed to effectively utilise your property. When it comes to Granny Flats its simply not a “one size fits all” We custom build Granny Flats that compliment your block and flow seamlessly with the site to maximise both space, functionality and privacy.

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  1. Is the property compliant with State Government regulations for a granny flat approval?
  2. Is your project able to be approved through a complying development certificate through a private certifier or a development application through your local City Council.
  3. Are there any additional site costs to be considered when assessing the suitability of a granny flat on the site.

Site Requirements

In order to qualify for a Granny Flat under a Complying Development Certificate (2 week fast track approval) we will need to check that your property fits the following guidelines. Some other requirements include:

Lot Size (in square meters)Minimum Frontage (in lineal meters)Site Coverage (%) Total Floor Area including house (in square meters) Side Setback (in lineal meters) Rear Setback (in lineal meters)

149 Certificate

A 149 Certificate contains information about your property. These are written conditions about the land which may or may not affect the granny flat approval and construction. These items are usually ‘paper’ items which cannot be visually seen when viewing the land. We look at a 149(2) & (5) planning certificate for two reasons:

  • To check that the property is compliant with State Government Requirements
  • To find out if there are any issues on the land that may affect the approval process, approval cost and construction cost

Here is a short list of what to look for:

  • Zoning – Must be between R1 & R4
  • Conservation, Heritage or Critical Habitat – If your 149 states any of these, then a DA is required.
  • Complying Development ‘may be’ carried out (Under the Complying Development/ General Housing Code Heading) – If your 149 certificate states ‘may not’, then a DA is required.
  • Mine Subsidence – If your property is in a Mine Subsidence area, then approval by the Mine Subsidence board is required. This extends the approval process.
  • Bushfire Zone – If your property is in a bushfire zone, then a bushfire consultant must be engaged to determine the BAL rating (Bushfire Attack Level), and a BAL certificate must be provided. Depending on the BAL rating, this may affect the cost of construction as each BAL rating requires certain materials to be used during the build.
  • Flood Zone – If your property falls in a flood zone, this will usually have an impact on the time needed for design and approval and additional costs during all stages.
    1. An AHD survey will be required (additional cost)
    2. Flood Advice from council is required (additional cost and time)
    3. Hydraulic Engineer is required (additional cost and time)
    4. The building may have to be raised (possible additional cost)
    5. If the property is in a high flood zone, approval through your local council via DA (development application) may be required.
  • Tree Preservation Orders – If you have a tree preservation order on your land, this means that no trees can be pruned or removed without council permit.

A 149(2) or 1492) & (5) Planning certificate can be purchased from your local council. Most councils now have an online electronic portal for purchasing 149’s and other documents.

Sewer Diagram & Sewer Location

Upon assessment of a sewer diagram and a site visit we can usually determine whether there will be sewer issues on the site or not.

The first thing to identify is the location of the sewer mains by viewing the sewer diagram. It’s also important to view how the sewer lines are connected to the main house. The sewer diagram can be found in your purchase contract or can easily be purchased from Sydney Water for about $26.

Title Search

A title search is a document tells us the present state of the title. Listed on the title search are:

  • A correct description of the land
  • FIRST SCHEDULE: Owner or registered proprietor
  • SECOND SCHEDULE: All of the registered interests affecting or benefiting the land eg, mortgages, easements, restrictions, covenants, right of way etc.

When building a granny flat, for assessment purposes, we are interested in the second schedule. We are looking for any interests that may affect the cost of the build or additional process. Eg. If a drainage easement is listed on a title search, then we know that we can use this to connect the stormwater.

The title search is a very important document to review prior to moving forward with a granny flat. Failure to check this document could mean major cost surprises down the track, and worst case scenario, the possible cancellation of your granny flat.

Site Services

Knowing where your services are located on the property is essential. The connection of your stormwater, sewer, electricity, data & gas are a crucial component of any Granny Flat. Each property is unique in it’s own way and must assessed accordingly.

Location of the sewer mains by viewing a sewer diagram must be identified first. It’s also important to view how the sewer lines are connected to the main house. The sewer diagram can be found in your purchase contract or can easily be purchased from Sydney Water for about $26.


1. Building in close proximity to the sewer mains

There is an area around a sewer mains called the ‘Zone of Influence’. This is like a sewer protection zone. The width of this area is determined by the sewer depth.  If a granny flat will be located within the zone of influence, then this will trigger additional costs and processes:

  • A ‘Sewer Pegout’ (additional cost & time)
  • Additional engineering (additional cost & time)
  • Approval by Sydney Water (additional cost & time)

2. Building over the sewer mains

This can be quite costly as a ‘Sewer Encasement’ is required. Sewer encasement is where the sewer pipe is excavated out and replaced by a U-PVC pipe. Concrete is then poured around the pipe, at least 150mm all the way around. (Additional cost & time)

If no Sydney Water assets have been affected by the placement of the granny flat, then all that is required is a Sydney Water Quick Check. This is a very simple and fast process and is included as part of our standard design and approval process.


Stormwater drainage from a site can be one of the greatest obstacles in granny flat approval. This is due to the fact that compliance with council’s stormwater policies must be adhered to. This is the only part of the Complying Development process that reverts back to council’s local control plans.


Property Falls Towards The Street (higher than street)

When a property falls towards the street (is higher than the street), it is usually quite simple to connect stormwater. Connection to a downpipe at the rear of the house or directly to the street by a gravity fed line is usually easy.

Property Falls Away From The Street (lower than street)

When a property falls away from the street (is lower than the street), additional costs and approval time is required due to consultants, further processes and additional construction.

The best and easiest solution for this type of property is drainage via an easement available to the property.


A drainage easement is a public (or private) pipe in the ground for the purpose of controlling stormwater. Although homeowners cannot build over easements, they are a blessing for stormwater drainage when a property falls away from the street.

If an easement is not available, then alternate options must be investigated. The following may not be compliant with council policies in all areas:


This is the second preferred method of drainage. A charged line is where water is pushed uphill from the roof of the granny flat to the street. The gravitational force of rainwater is what makes this work as the water is pushed through the pipe which then exits through the kerb outlet onto the street. When rain stops, water does remain in the pipes and eventually dries up. This is the reason for using PVC downpipes to ensure no leaks.

This is a similar concept to the ‘S’ trap beneath your kitchen sink that catches waste. There is always water in the pipes but when you turn on the tap, water is pushed through by the force of the water.


An absorption pitt is usually our last resort. This is where a large hole is dug out approx. 6m long x 1m wide. Geotech fabric is installed. PVC domes area placed in the trench. Geotech fabric is then wrapped around the dome.

Stormwater pipes are connected into the dome. Bluemetal is spread over and around the dome and then 300mm of topsoil is installed over the top.

An absorption pitt is similar to an underground rainwater tank.

The collected water from the roof of the granny flat will eventually absorb into the ground (diperse and disappear).

An absorption pitt will only work when the soil is suitable. In certain areas, a geotechnical testing and report is required to determine the type of soil. Heavy clay and rock areas are not suitable for absorption pitts.

An absorption pitt must be located on the lower part of the land and setback at least 3m from fence lines and 2-3 m from any structure making it a little challenging when positioning a granny flat.

In the old days, these were called rubble pitts. We’ve certainly come a long way.Sometimes, there are existing ‘Rubble Pitts’ as the stormwater solution for the existing primary dwelling. These are usually located in the back yard.  The existing rubble pitt must be identified and removed as it can create a very wet back yard.  More importantly, a granny flat cannot be built over a rubble pitt as the rising moisture will create future problems.

When none of the above options are available, then, it may be possible to request an easement through your neighbour’s property. This is a significantly expensive and lengthy process.

Sometimes there are no other options available to homeowners but to request a private easement through a neighbour’s property.  Fair market value must be offered to a neighbour for the portion of land required to create the easement.  The easement will create restrictions on their land. There are legal, survey, registration and construction costs applicable in addition to the compensation given to your neighbour.

Site Suitability

The slope of a property can have an impact on final cost. There are a few different options and the final solution is dependent on a site inspection. Each property is unique and is assessed accordingly.


A minimum access of 1.5m wide x 2.1m high is required.

Access must be clear, ie, no downpipes, hot water systems, air conditioning units etc. Also, the ground must be fairly level to be able to drive small machinery over.


In order to build a granny flat, items must be cleared. This may involve removal of garden sheds or garages, pathways, paved areas, concrete areas, gardens and garden edging, pools and other items. This is an additional cost when budgeting.

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