The archaic reason why Melbourne granny flats need to be relocatable
Granny flats have been around since the 1950s. Back then, local governments in Melbourne freely supplied asbestos-sheeted structures for families to house their ageing parents and keep them away from government-sponsored hospice care. These post-war, grey and monolithic structures dotted Melbourne backyards.
Local governments required these granny flats to be relocatable because they retained ownership of them. They wanted to be able to extract their investment from a property once the temporary elderly occupants of the granny flat inevitably moved on.
However, the era of free, local government-supplied granny flats came to an end in the 1990s. Ever since, homeowners have had to pay for granny flats themselves if they want one. Financially, this was a very clever move by Victorian local governments. It excluded them from a very large and growing yearly expenditure on an ageing population. Instead of providing free housing for elderly people who have paid tax all their lives, this decision is virtually an extra tax on their offspring.
Persisting Requirement: Relocatability
Despite Melbourne’s non-involvement in funding for three decades, the requirement for relocatability persists. Manufacturers must declare granny flats as relocatable for local government approval in Melbourne yards.
What are the implications of this outdated regulation?
The upshot is that I believe very few Melbourne granny flats are built to conform to the legislation. It simply costs too much to construct a removable building in a typical residential yard. Without prejudice, I assert that a majority of builders and granny flat companies in Melbourne self-certify that their structures are relocatable. We all know what happens when builders are allowed to self-certify!
In reality, construction professionals in Melbourne utilize concrete stumps and timber frames for building granny flats. Anyone familiar with wattle and daub recognizes that timber sub-floors remain non-relocatable unless engineers certify them for mobility using LVL timber. Similarly, the steel structures employed in Melbourne lack crane-lifting design, thus stopping their removal.
Local councils can significantly impact the situation. For example, as seen in Mornington, if they challenge builders in court based on doubts about the permanence of structures despite self-certification, the outcome becomes uncertain. And I think two more councils started looking into the same thing.
Why councils don’t focus on their core functions (rubbish, roads and rates) is beyond belief. They seem to be run by politically correct people who enjoy a dash of socialism in their tea. What happened to good ol’ English Breakfast?