Incorporating Special Purpose Dwellings into Subdivisions

The Residential Design Codes of Western Australia has a specific (and mostly unknown) section devoted to the provision of special purpose dwellings in residentially coded areas of the community. These are;

  • Ancillary dwellings (can be granny flats in WA, in this instance they are not separately titled)
  • Aged or dependent persons dwellings
  • Single bed dwellings (can be granny flats – WA planning regulations allow separate titling as a “single bed dwelling”).

The objective of the WAPC in accommodating such dwellings in a wider strategic planning context is:

  • (a) To ensure residential development is provided to accommodate people with or without special needs.
  • (b) To provide ancillary accommodation which is independent or semi-independent to residents of the single house.
  • (c) To ensure that dwellings for the aged and people with special needs can be provided within residential areas
  • (d) To provide opportunities for affordable housing

Single bedroom and aged/independent person’s dwellings can be an important addition to your development strategies. If you understand how to use them correctly you can identify good subdivision opportunities in areas with demand for these types of dwellings that other people may miss.

There is a trend in the wider community towards demand for such dwelling types, driven mostly by:

  • Ageing national population
  • NDIS
  • Housing affordability crisis
  • Growing numbers of students and people in study situations
  • Many younger couples or singles looking for affordable live alone scenarios, who may have pets or other needs where an apartment is unsuitable
  • FIFO workforce personnel looking for affordable living options
  • Many older couples or singles (grey nomads) looking for affordable live alone scenarios, who may have pets or other needs (such as caravan storage) where an apartment is unsuitable but a large house is no longer necessary for their lifestyle
  • Demand for short stay accommodation

Whilst there is growing demand for this type of housing, supply falls well short of what is required. There is an opportunity for you to capitalise on this. There is demand for single bed (or granny flats) and aged independent persons units to buy or rent, so either development model works.

Opportunities could be sort to provide such accommodation near;

  • Health campuses, hospitals and health facilities
  • Urban centres close to train and bus stations
  • Barracks and army facilities
  • Tertiary institutions and learning centres
  • Domestic and international Airports for Perth based FIFO and business personnel

image of proposed Granny Flats WA

Why Granny flats – WA Development Opportunity Pros and Cons

From a land subdivision perspective, what is poorly understood is that a single bed dwelling or aged person/dependent dwelling can be independently titled and sold off in a grouped dwelling arrangement, or in a retain and subdivide scenario.

Secondly, the site area required as set out in table 1 of the R-codes may be reduced by one third for R-code compliance purposes for separate titling of single bed dwellings (rules for granny flats-WA planning regulations). The dwellings of these two types can be 70m2 total for single bed dwellings and 80-100m2 for aged care/independent dwellings, with further concessions for size of outdoor living areas and parking in some instances as noted in section 5.5 of the R-codes.

The size reduction allowance and concessions in the R-codes allows us to subdivide blocks that were not previously able to be subdivided with conventional housing or plot sizes. For example, an R20 site requires a 350m2 minimum and 450m2 average site area. Essentially the minimum site area to subdivide in two is 900m2 (notwithstanding other variations and concessions that may be applied from the local government planning policies or scheme text of the area, the R-codes or DC2.2).

An 800m2 R20 site then, could never be subdivide in two as a Survey strata or Green title. If however, you decided to build a single bed dwelling on the rear and sell or rent it you could subdivide in two- the second lot would only need to be a compliant 267m2 (one third concession on minimum size).

The clever developer can identify these subdivision opportunities in the right areas. With forward planning, you have the following advantages:

  • Fast building turnaround (Granny Flats WA and other specialist granny flat builders exist in Perth)
  • Rent floor of $200-$250 a week across Perth. Some suburbs are struggling to get $350/week for a 4×2
  • Low build costs- $80k-$120k depending on the spec and quality required for the area
  • Opportunity to locate the dwelling on the block and design the layout such as that it is ready to be “built on to” and modified into a 3×2 or 4×2 once higher zoning comes through on the scheme map for the area

Further reading on the requirements for Single bed dwellings and Aged care/independent dwellings can be found sections 5.5.2 and 5.5.3 of the R-codes. It is important to also consider the use of these dwelling types within the local planning framework you are operating in. Some local government areas may provide further concessions and actively promote the establishment of single bed and aged care/independent dwellings in their community (such as City of Kalamunda and City of Swan), whilst others do not support them so readily (like the city of Stirling). You must research this prior to considering special use dwellings as an option in your land subdivision strategies.

There is more information on subdivision potential and the R-codes on our can I subdivide land page.

Would you like to know more about special purpose dwellings?

Get in touch with us directly for assistance and we will help you,
or attend one of our Training Courses to learn more!