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.
Amazingly, despite the fact that Melbourne local governments haven’t paid for granny flats for three decades, the requirement for them to be relocatable is still in place. All granny flat manufacturers must claim that their granny flats are relocatable to gain local government approval for supplying and building them 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What are the implications of this outdated regulation?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!
The reality is that granny flats in Melbourne are built using concrete stumps and timber frames. Any person with even the slightest knowledge of wattle and daub will know that timber sub-floors are not relocatable unless LVL timber is used and they are certified by an engineer as being relocatable. Even the type of steel structures used in Melbourne are not removable because they were never designed to be lifted by cranes.
None of this really matters if bureaucratic local councils didn’t accept self-certification and didn’t ring your doorbell and ask to see your granny flat twelve months after you’ve had it built. This is precisely what happened in Mornington where the council decided to challenge a leading granny flat builder and take them to court because they believed that their structures were not removable. I believe two more councils have also initiated similar inquiries.
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?