Small lot projects | Brisbane City Council

Small lot projects

""To undertake a small lot project, you will first need to find out the key facts about the property (zoning, overlays, lot size and if the property is included in a neighbourhood plan) and then use the following 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 450m²
  • an area less than 600m² (excluding the driveway) if a rear lot.

Planning approval

A PD Online 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 are required to comply with the Dwelling house (small lot) code. The small lot code outlines requirements, including:

  • a small lot should only be occupied by one household
  • new development is contained with a defined building envelope, which specifies requirements for the height, setbacks of the dwelling, and outcomes for built to boundary walls
  • the site coverage of buildings and structures on the lot
  • car parking requirements.

A neighbourhood plan or an applicable overlay may require additional outcomes that will need 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.

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 complies with all the identified acceptable outcomes of the Dwelling house (small lot) 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.

If your project does not comply with the Dwelling house (small lot) code or other relevant codes, a development application is required to be submitted to Council.

Overlays that may be applicable to the development of a house include, but are not limited to, the Traditional building character overlay, the Flood overlays, the Coastal hazard overlay, the Significant landscape tree overlay, and the Waterway corridor overlay.

Traditional building character overlay

If you are in the Character residential zone it is likely that 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 in addition to the Dwelling house (small lot) code.

Other locations

If your proposed small lot project is not in one of the preferred locations listed, contact Council on 07 3403 8888 for advice specific to your situation.

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 (for example, minimum distances from side boundaries) by making an application to Council. This is called a siting variation.

To save the cost of a separate building application at a later date, you should think about including details of any sheds, garages, carports, or other structures you have in mind with your application. 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

If you wish to find out more Council's fact sheet Small lot houses can provide additional information.

06 March 2019