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NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment
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Can I build and occupy a secondary dwelling (granny flat) while my main house is built?

Residents who need to rebuild their home may want to live on their land while construction of their new home is underway.

 

Amendments have been made to facilitate a number of temporary accommodation options for residents such as the installation of a movable dwelling or manufactured home, without the need for council approval.

 

Another option is for residents to construct a secondary dwelling (granny flat) to live in while their main house is being constructed. This will only be possible where secondary dwellings are permitted (mainly residential zones). Further information on secondary dwellings can be found on the Planning Portal.

 

What is the approval process?

  1. Obtain approval for all works (Development Application or Complying Development Certificate)
  2. Construct granny flat
  3. Obtain Occupation Certificate (OC) for granny flat
  4. Construct main house
  5. Obtain final Occupation Certificate for all works – within 5 years of first OC

 

Firstly, a Development Application (DA) for both the primary and secondary dwelling can be lodged and approved by council or a Complying Development Certificate (CDC) issued by a private certifier (or council) for all works involved.

 

After approval is received and the secondary dwelling is constructed, an Occupation Certificate can be issued for the secondary dwelling. An OC authorises the occupation and use of a new building or building section. For an OC to be issued, there must not be any incomplete building works on the site that pose a health and safety risk to the occupants. Also, conditions of consent are sometimes issued with a development approval that must be met before an OC is issued. These conditions must be met in relation to the secondary dwelling before an OC can be issued for the dwelling.

 

An OC issued for the first completed stage of a partially completed development will be subject to a condition that a further OC must be obtained for the whole development (both the primary and secondary dwelling) within 5 years after the issue of that initial occupation certificate.

 

Once the development and all associated building work is complete, an OC for the remaining parts of the development (the main house) must be obtained. More information on occupation certificates can be found on the Part 6 Building and subdivision page, including information about some recent changes.

 

Where are secondary dwellings (granny flats) allowed?

Secondary dwellings are permitted through the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009 (the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP) in residential zones (R1, R2, R3, R4, and R5). They may also be permitted in other zones under council’s Local Environmental Plan (LEP).

 

A primary and secondary dwelling can also be approved through a development application by councils or a CDC by council or a private certifier who can issue a single CDC for the whole development. To be approved as complying development, the secondary dwelling must meet several requirements and development standards set out in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP, while the primary dwelling must meet relevant standards set out in the Codes SEPP.

 

A lot on which a secondary dwelling is constructed through the provisions in the Affordable Rental Housing SEPP cannot be subdivided.

 

There are additional requirements for complying development on bushfire prone land and complying development cannot be undertaken in areas of Bushfire Attack Level 40 (BAL-40) or the Flame Zone. See more about development in bushfire prone land NSW Rural Fire Service website.

Page last updated: 05/03/2020