The truth about Backyard Cabin Building Permit Exemptions?

Updated: Jan 17

In the Backyard Cabin Industry in Victoria there is a-lot of discussion about Planning Permits and Building Permit exemptions, so naturally something that is on the minds of almost all of our Victoria customers any of these exemptions apply to me?

Click here for our guide to planning and building permits in Victoria

In almost every case, building a backyard cabin in Victoria is going to require a building permit...and here is why.

Backyard cabins are intended to be habitable, here is the Victorian Governments Planning Scheme Definition of a habitable space.

Habitable Space

"Any room of a dwelling or residential building other than a bathroom, laundry, toilet, pantry, walk-in wardrobe, corridor, stair, lobby, photographic darkroom, clothes drying room and other space of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods."

A great example of this is a garden shed, carport or garage, it is a 'space or room,' however, it is occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods. Your Backyard Cabin on the other-hand is somewhere you would most likely visit frequently and for an extended period of time, making it a habitable space.

Applying for a Non-Habitable Exemption

If you are going to use your new cabin as a Non-Habitable Shed, Garage or Carport then you may be off the hook, however, there are a number of other constraints to consider before moving ahead.

Non-Habitable Backyard Cabins are considered a Class 10a Building Type in Victoria. However with the correct modifications and compliance a Class 10a building could become a habitable space.

Class 10 Definition

Non-habitable structures – includes three sub-classifications:

  • Class 10a – sheds, carports, private garages

  • Class 10b – fences, masts, antennas, retaining walls

  • Class 10c – private bushfire shelter.


Exemption Criteria

If you decide to apply for an exemption these are the current parameters you must follow in order to be considered exempt from a building permit in Victoria as of Jan 2021.

Construction of a freestanding Class 10a building (a shed, carport or garage) is exempt from the requirement to obtain a building permit by item 1 of Schedule 3 providing it:

  • has a floor area not exceeding 10m²; and (Length X Width)

  • is not more than 3m in height, or no more than 2.4m in height within 1m of the boundary; and

  • if appurtenant to a building of another Class on the same allotment is located no further forward on the allotment than the front wall of the building to which it is appurtenant; and

  • if it is the only Class 10a building and is not appurtenant to another building of another Class on the same allotment, is set back at least 9m from the front street alignment and at least 2m from each side street alignment; and

  • is not constructed of masonry.

As you can see, it is difficult to create a scenario where you are likely to be able to build a backyard cabin as a home office without a Building Permit, firstly the building must be non-habitable, straight away you meet a hurdle, but that is ok applying for a permit really isn't that difficult click here for more information. One common scenario we find frequently is our client will choose a building that meets all of the size criteria, however, as stated in point number 4, it must then be the ONLY Class 10a Building on the property, so if you already have a Class 10a Shed, Carport or Private Garage the building permit requirement is again triggered.

Applying for a Building Permit isn't that bad.

So yes, there are going to be some costs involved, but applying for a building permit is not that difficult, It does cost money, but not as much as the fine for Building Illegally and having to pull down your new backyard cabin, on top of that, Illegal building works may void your home insurance.

Click here for more information about Planning and Building Permits.

Custom Creations


Melbourne, Australia

ABN: 92 645 471 370


P: 1300 51 64 51



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