Small Scale Building Works in the Traditional Building Character Overlay

Friday, 24th July 2021.

Small scale building works in the Traditional Building Character overlay.

At Town Planner Brisbane we receive numerous questions at small scale building works on queenslanders, such as:

  • Can I build a deck on my pre-war house?
  • Can I build a carport on my queenslander?
  • Can I build in under my pre-war home?

How do I find out if my house is in the Traditional Building Character Overlay?

A lot of landowners are not aware that their property is located within the Traditional Building Character Overlay until they look to lodge an application with Council to either build, modify or demolish their home. You can find out if you home in the Traditional Building Character Overlay by searching for your property on Brisbane City Council’s interactive mapping.

Why is my house in the Traditional Building Character Overlay?

The aim of the Traditional Building Character overlay is to protect the unique character and history of early housing in Brisbane. These houses were often constructed in 1946 or earlier and are more commonly known as “Queenslanders”.  The overlay ensures that any alterations or new developments remains reflective and complements houses that were constructed pre-1946.

When undertaking development on a site in the Traditional Building Character overlay, it is critical to understand what can be completed with and without a town planning approval. The rule of thumb is that any works which modify the perspective of the dwelling from the street are typically assessable by Council and will require a town planning application. This is to try to protect the traditional character of the area, with any new development to compliment rather than conflict with the prevailing built form. This means the design of new or extended buildings will need to include architectural elements like pitched rooflines, forward facing balconies and other traditional elements in accordance with the code. Town Planner Brisbane can assist with this design guidance.

What if I what I want to do is small scale?

The Brisbane City Plan 2014 includes prescribed accepted development provisions which typically include a number of small scale building works that can sometimes be undertaken without town planning approval. These works are

  • Building works to create an:
    • Enclosed extension under an existing building
    • External stair, ramp, or lift
    • Internal building work
    • Carport, garage, shed at the rear of the building
    • Deck, verandahs, balconcies and shade structures at the rear of the building
    • In ground swimming pool and/or spa.

Whilst the above applies to most sites, it should be noted that prior to commencing any works you should contact Town Planner Brisbane to confirm if these prescribed accepted development provisions apply to your property. The level of assessment can be changed by an overlay, neighborhood plan or even state government planning consideration, depending on the location and characteristics of the property. To further assist property owners, Brisbane City Council have recently released the “Traditional Housing: Alterations and Extensions Design Guide” which can be viewed here.

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Town Planner Brisbane can assist in helping you understand if your site is in the Traditional Building Character Overlay and assist in understanding if your proposal will require a town planning approval.

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