Small lot projects

Before you undertake a small lot project, find out the key facts about the property. The facts include zoning, overlays, lot size and if the property is in a neighbourhood plan. Use the information to find out if your small lot project needs planning approval.


Brisbane City Plan 2014 defines a small lot as a lot that has an area:

  • less than 450 square metres
  • less than 600 square metres (excluding the driveway) if a rear lot.

Planning approval

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

General requirements

Generally, all small lot houses must comply with the Dwelling house (small lot) code. The small lot code outlines requirements, including:

A neighbourhood plan or an applicable overlay may require additional outcomes to be addressed in the proposed development. Review of the key facts about the property will identify any neighbourhood plans or overlays that apply to the site.

Preferred locations

Residential zones

A house on a small lot is likely to be accepted development if your property is in one of the following zones and it complies with all identified acceptable outcomes of the Dwelling house (small lot) code, Dwelling house character overlay code, applicable neighbourhood plan and overlays codes. The zones include:

Accepted development, where compliant with the identified requirements, does not require Council approval. You will not need anything in writing from Council to commence your small lot project, provided you:

  • carry out a self-assessment of all relevant codes, and
  • ensure that you comply with all identified acceptable outcomes of the codes.

Council will require a development application if your project does not comply with the Dwelling house (small lot) code or other relevant codes.

Overlays that may be applicable to the development of a house include, but are not limited to the:

Traditional building character overlay

If you are in the Character residential zone, it is likely you will be in the Traditional building character overlay. If you are building or extending a small lot house in traditional building character overlay, you may have to submit a Code assessable development application to Council. 

Your proposal will also have to comply with the Traditional building character (design) overlay code and the Dwelling house (small lot) code.

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 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 Small lot houses fact sheet.

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