What Permits Do I Need to Build a Modular Home on My Land?

June 29, 2015

Written by

Lester Raikes


Are you confused about permit requirements for prefab modular homes? If so, don’t worry – you are not alone!

It’s a very confusing topic. In this article we’ll go into detail about exactly what permits you'll need depending on the type of land you’re building on and the state you want to build in.

Types of Permit

There are two main types of permit for any type of construction project – these are planning permits and building permits. These are called different things in different states (see below), but are essentially the same thing.

Planning Permits

In NSW a planning permit is called a Development Application, or DA for short. In Victoria they are simply referred to as planning permits.

Based on our experience, a planning permit is required in roughly 70–80% of cases in Victoria. In NSW, a DA is always required when building a modular home.

Factors affecting whether or not you’ll need to get a planning permit include:

  • The planning overlays that are on your property – e.g. Bushfire Management Overlay, Erosion Management Overlay, Land Inundation Overlay etc, to name a few.
  • Is the land in a bushfire zone?
  • Is the land in an area prone to flooding?
  • The number of dwellings on a block
  • Is it possible that the site has aboriginal heritage considerations?

If you answered “yes” to any of the above questions, then there is a higher than average chance that you’ll need to get a planning permit to build a modular home (or any other type of home) on your site.

Let’s look at an example. Just say you’re planning on building a modular home to use as a beach house, it’s likely that the land will have a bushfire overlay, making it compulsory to get a planning permit.

Side note: To build a structure on land designated as farming land, the block needs to be at least 100 acres in size. If the property is less than 100 acres it is almost certain that you’ll need to obtain a planning permit.

Building Permits

A building permit is also known as a Construction Certificate in NSW. For modular homes, applications known as Section 68 are required.

These permits are required to make sure that the actual structure you’re building is safe and is built in accordance with the building code. This is required in 100% of cases when building a home.

This is true whether you’re building a prefabricated modular home, a kit home, or a traditional site-built home. The only free standing structure that would not require a building permit is something like a very small shed.

A planning permit can be issued without a building permit, however a building permit cannot be issued without a required planning permit, and in such a case the building permit must be consistent with that planning permit. In other words any required planning permit must be obtained first.

Permit Differences Between Site-Built Homes and Modular Homes

The truth is that the permit process is very similar whether you’re building on site with a slab or whether you’re building a modular home in a factory and transporting it to the site to be completed on its footings.

The only real difference is that permits for modular homes are sometimes easier to acquire because there will be less impact on the site due to construction taking place over only a 6–8 week period as opposed to the several months (see our recent article about total time to build a modular home for more info).

How to Find Out What Permits You’ll Need for a Modular Home

The Victorian Land Channel website provides free basic property reports for sites in Victoria.

The NSW equivalent is the Land Property and Information website.

Basic reports are usually enough to see whether you’ll need to obtain a planning permit for your prefab modular home, however it is good practise to contact the planning department of your local council. In most cases your local council is the responsible authority for deciding permit applications.

Here’s an example of a property report on a half-acre site in Melbourne’s outer eastern suburbs.


You can see from the highlighted sections in this example that there several overlays on this block, and by clicking on the links to the relevant overlays, you can read the planning schedules and determine whether a planning permit would be required to build a modular home on this site.

If you need some help with organising a property report or if you’re in doubt about what the overlays on your report mean, get in touch with us and we’d be happy to help you work out if you need a planning permit to build a modular home on your block, as we do this every day for our customers.

How Much do Permits Cost for a Modular Home?

If you find you need a permit to build your modular home on your land then there is a cost involved in lodging a permit application.

The cost to obtain a planning permit for your property will vary according to the overlays that affect the land. In some cases, external consultants need to provide supporting documentation such as Bushfire Management Statements or Landslip Assessments. Generally, Planning applications range from $4500 to $8000.

We regularly submit planning applications on behalf of our clients; however for more complicated applications we recommend our clients engage a planning consultant to undertake the application process on our behalf. 

Building Permits are included in the cost of your new Modular Home, however Planning Permit costs are not included, and we are more than happy to provide cost estimates to carry this service out on your behalf.

How Long Does it Take to Get a Permit?

On average it takes around 3-4 months to obtain a planning permit from the time you submit an application. The total time depends on the overlays on the land. More overlays may mean the application process will be slower.

In some cases, basic applications have been as quick as 6 weeks, while more complex cases have taken up to 9 months.

If the application is unsuccessful then you can appeal the matter to the VCAT in Victoria or the AAT in NSW. This appeal process can prolong the process by a few more months. 

Do you have more questions about modular home building or planning permits? Get in touch with our team or let us know in the comments section below and we’ll do our best to find out the answer for you.

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