I am thinking about putting up a cubby house for my kids. Are there any restrictions that apply?

There could be.

The Building Act exempts structures less than 10 square metres from normal building approvals.

However, some town planning schemes require planning approval for all structures.

So it is important — before you consider investing time and money — that you check this out with your local government.

Common sense normally applies and most local governments take a relaxed approach to the humble cubby house.

Building your children a cubby house or tree house is an enjoyable weekend project.

There are many prefabricated cubby houses available that can be purchased and installed ready for adventures.

But if you decide to build your own, select suitable materials that are chemical or VOC free, and durable. Sand any sharp edges or rough areas to prevent grazes and splinters.

Also ensure fort-style cubby-houses or tree-houses are sturdy and not too high to help prevent injuries from falls.

Positioning your cubby carefully is important. Here are some tips:

• Council property and verges are not for general use. Cubby houses or tree houses must be within the boundaries of your property.

• Generally all structures in the front setback of your home require an approval. However, a small building that is well blended with the landscaping is not likely to offend.

• The backyard is generally the position of choice of most.

Try to keep the roof of the cubby lower than the fence, however, if you have an elevated fort-style cubby house, orient windows and platforms to face into your yard so neighbours don’t feel their privacy is invaded. This can help avoid issues with neighbours.

• The scale of your cubby should be less than a garden shed, but check if there is a maximum area for your “building” to be exempt in your area.

• Tell your neighbours of your intention to install a cubby house for your children.

This reduces the likelihood of complaints because generally people do not object after they’ve been consulted.

Once your cubby is being enjoyed by your family, you will need to regularly inspect your cubby house and maintain it to a safe standard.

Make sure you use safe paints, and watch for any new inhabitants such as spiders and snakes which might choose to call it home.

If the Council does receive complaints regarding your cubby house, it may be because it is considered an eyesore or impacts a person’s privacy, in which case you could be required to move or remove it.

Let the adventures begin.

Source: Master Builders Association


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