Buying house with Granny flat - no DA

Hi all,

I have an offer in on a house in the Canterbury Council district in Sydney. The house has a converted colorbond shed in the garden which has been converted into a studio apartment. It has no DA/planning permission and is stated as such in the contract. I think the house has great investment for the future but the lack of DA is very much putting me off.

The studio has full kitchen (gas, plumbing - both from main house), bedroom and bathroom with toilet, shower and sink. The floor space is 40sq metres. It is about 4m tall. It is set around 1 metre from both the back boundary and side boundary. There is a property on either side of the block of land. A block of land also runs horizontally across the back of the property. The studio is at the far end of the block, in one corner, a good distance from the house. The block is 780sq metres. The conversion inside, to a layman, looks very well done - almost better than the fixtures in the main house.

My questions are...
* Does it sound like I can get retrospective planning permission and change of use?
* Does it comply with the Affordable Housing Policy on granny flats?
* How can I prove it complies with the building code of australia?
* It won't be rented out - but is good for in-laws :) Does this help?
* Am I opening a can of worms? If so, should I do nothing? What can happen?
* Should I use a private certifier and not go through the council?
* What else should I be asking?

The situation is slighty complicated by the fact that I want to add another room to the back of the main house and need approval for that. I'm worried about inviting the council onto the land for that approval and they get nosey about the studio.

So far the following have said...

Solicitor - It's illegal, end of. It's a liability.
Builder - He's quoted for the work on the main house but didn't look at studio. When I called him he said we'd just apply for the DA on the studio.
Council - I rang anonymously and they said I could apply and poss get. But under the Affordable Housing Policy the structure would need to be 3 metres from back of boundary, 1 metre from side boundary.
Vendor's Agent - It should just be viewed as a 'bonus' and not adding worth.

Overall, I want it to be legal so I can insure it and it becomes an asset not a liability, and adds some value to the house.

Sorry for the long e-mail. But all and any advice will be gratefully received.


Sounds like the council have already given you the answer but might be worth going back to the builder and questioning on what basis they believe you can get approval given council has said it needs to be 3m from the back?
The short answer (well question) is - are you paying more for the granny flat? ie is the price more than you would pay for a similar house without the granny flat?
If the answer is yes then you need to make sure thew granny flat IS worth something.
If it's the same price as a house without the granny flat go for it. If it doesn't get approved you've lost nothing.
Thanks guys.

I believe the house is worth more than the asking price, based upon a search my mortgage broker did for me. And that search has no record of the studio. Therefore the granny flat is probably 'worthless' in this instance. However, do you think that if I got 'dobbed in' I would be fined? It just takes perhaps a dispute with a neighbour.

It's very confusing. I've read that councils have different rules eg, Parramatta let granny flats be 900mm from back and side boundaries. And that isn't even set in stone ie, it's case by case basis.

How can I get a definitive answer on this studio - employ a private certifier? Anyone know the cost to consult? And can a private certifer dob me in?

Who would say bugger it and take a chance like the current owner has?

Thank again,

Also, the three blocks that border 'my' block (2 x side and back block) don't have houses within at least 10 metres of the studio. Does this make a difference ie, it's not slap bang up against someone else's structure / house?


Let it go because if someone dobs you in it will have to be demolished.
My nephew bought a house at auction in Kingsgrove and he had to demolish a big chuck of it because it was illegal.