New house

Before you build a new house in Brisbane, find out the key facts about the property. These facts include zoning, overlays, lot size and if the property is in a neighbourhood plan. Use this information to find out if your new house project needs planning approval.


Under Brisbane City Plan 2014, a house is a dwelling house used by one household. A dwelling house means a residential use of premises involving:

  • one dwelling and any domestic outbuilding associated with the dwelling; or
  • two dwellings, one of which is secondary dwelling, and any domestic outbuildings associated with either dwelling.

A house is not:

  • caretaker's accommodation
  • dual occupancy
  • rooming accommodation
  • short-term accommodation
  • student accommodation, or
  • a multiple dwelling.

The City Plan defines these separately.

Preferred locations

A house is accepted development, if your property is in one of the following zones. It must also be compliant with identified requirements within the Brisbane City Plan 2014:

Accepted development, if complying with the identified requirements, does not require Council approval. Assessment is required to ensure the development meets the identified criteria specified in the relevant codes. You will not need anything in writing from Council to commence your house project, provided you:

Overlays and neighbourhood plans

Overlays on your site and a neighbourhood plan may add design requirements or matters to be considered. These include significant vegetation, waterways and traditional building design elements, because of your site's unique features or location.

You can find these requirements in the associated overlay and neighbourhood plan codes.

Some overlays (such as the Heritage overlay and Wetlands overlay) require you to apply for a development approval from Council regardless of whether you meet the acceptable outcomes.

Traditional building character overlay

If your project is in the Traditional building character overlay you need to submit a Code assessable development application to Council and comply with the Traditional building character (design) overlay code.

To demolish or remove part of an existing pre-1946 structure in the Traditional building character overlay, you may need a separate planning approval.

Planning approval

A Development.i property enquiry can help determine if the proposal requires Council approval. You can also phone Council on 07 3403 8888 to speak to a town planner. 

Building approval

Building approval is separate to planning approval. All houses, including houses on small lots, are Class 1a buildings under the Building Code of Australia. All Class 1a buildings need building approval. 

You can arrange for building approval of your new house through a building certifier. You must give the certifier scaled and detailed plans prepared by a draftsperson or architect.

Your certifier can seek a relaxation of some building requirements (e.g. minimum distances from side boundaries). This is a request to Council for a Building Work Referral Agency Response for consideration of the design and siting provisions of the Queensland Development Code (QDC).

You can save the cost of a separate building application at a later date, by including details of other structures you have in mind. These can include sheds, garages, carports, or other structures. These are often subject to building approval if constructed separately.


If a planning application is required, this type of development may be suitable for fast-tracked assessment using the RiskSMART process.

More information

For more information, read Council's Houses fact sheet.

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Brisbane City Council acknowledges this Country and its Traditional Custodians. We pay our respects to the Elders, those who have passed into the dreaming; those here today; those of tomorrow.