Can I live in a caravan on my block while the house is being built?
June 19, 2011 3:19 PM   Subscribe

Say I wanted to buy 1000 metres squared of suburban land to build a house on. Is my family allowed to live in a couple of caravans on the site while the house is being built, or will my local council nix that? I'm in Australia by the way.
posted by singingfish to Home & Garden (9 answers total)
This is not uncommon where I grew up, in rural Louisiana in the USA. That said, different country, rural area as opposed to suburban, no "local council" interfering in that sort of thing, and people are fairly used to trailer/prefab housing for this sort of use and in general.
posted by Sara C. at 3:45 PM on June 19, 2011

Where I live you need a 'temporary occupancy permit' to live in a caravan, converted garage/shed or temp building on a building block. They normally come with an expiry date by which time the permanent home must be completed. Check with your local council what their requirements are.
posted by the fish at 3:56 PM on June 19, 2011

Best answer: Yeah, it's very council-dependent in Australia - usually common enough in rural or semi-rural areas, usually impossible in urban areas. Check with your local council.
posted by Pinback at 4:07 PM on June 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Completely depends on the council. Some will allow you to live on-site, some won't (because it's a work site, or because they have a general prohibition on people living in vans in suburbia generally). If a council does let you live on site, they may require you to jump through a number of hoops, like installing a port-a-loo or hooking up sewerage or getting special insurance, and they may place a time limit on how long you can be there.

We had to live in a van once. Despite being on the edge of an industrial / prison / railway estate that was in the middle of nowhere, some do-gooder still reported us to the council, leading to a series of lengthy written exchanges about the difference between 'visitor' and 'resident' and the dangers to public health and national security arising from extension cords. Good times.
posted by obiwanwasabi at 4:39 PM on June 19, 2011

It looks like you'd be considered an owner-builder. If you're in NSW, this FAQ page from NSW Fair Trading has lots of information regarding regulations and permits: Becoming an Owner-Builder. And here's a forum thread from a home renovation and building forum in Australia that tackles a similar question: Living in a Shed During Construction?
posted by amyms at 5:24 PM on June 19, 2011

Here are a couple of random examples of location-specific information about living on-site during construction:

PDF of the Local Approvals Policy for the Temporary Occupation of Building Sites from Wollondilly, NSW.

Google Doc of guidelines for securing a Temporary Accommodation Permit in Albany, WA.
posted by amyms at 6:10 PM on June 19, 2011

Best answer: Speaking as someone whose wife is an Australian (Vic) planning lawyer, I can tell you that this will definitely vary from Council to Council, but in most cases will be quite a problem for you to sort. Not impossible, but you are likely to find major hurdles. Sanitary issues will be big, as will neighbour complaints/visual amenity. You'll have to get a permit.

If you're an owner-builder, you must register, undertaking a compulsory course and accreditation etc.
posted by wilful at 8:04 PM on June 19, 2011

Where I live, in the Blue Mountains in NSW, I have seen examples of people building studios (permanent buildings of one or two rooms + bathroom) in which they live while they build, then retain as a guest house/home office etc. once they are complete.
posted by bystander at 3:21 AM on June 20, 2011

A lot of people build cheap kit sheds, and live in those while their houses are being built. Where I live (regional city in qld) that technically is against council regulations but they seem to turn a very blind eye. It's less likely to draw unwanted attention than a caravan.
posted by indienial at 5:10 AM on June 20, 2011

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