How Close Can I Build to My Boundary QLD

by | Jan 17, 2023 | Advice & inspiration, Building basics & regulations

Been wondering to yourself, ‘How close can I build to my Boundary? This is the page for you. When building a single detached building or making renovations, it’s important to know when you can simply go ahead and when you’ll need to seek council approval. In this article, we’ll be outlining what the general rules are and what steps to take if you wish to get an exemption from these setbacks.

How close can I build to my boundary?

Rules & regulations to be aware of

It’s important to understand that with any building project, where you’re located will make a difference. The three key regulations are:

  • Australian Standards
  • Building Act
  • Local Council regulations

No two local councils are quite the same and this is where people often are caught out. Just because something was above board in one suburb, doesn’t necessarily mean it will be okay somewhere else. Be sure to always check with your local council before starting any building work. Trust us, it could keep you out of some hot water down the track!

It’s always recommended that you discuss any building with your neighbours for the purposes of good relations and avoiding conflict down the line. This is especially true if you’re applying for an exemption from the standard rules (for example, you’re looking to build closer to the boundary than 1.5 metres.) For most buildings at the front or rear of the property, it’s not only polite to inform your neighbours but a requirement for your application.

What are the rules for boundary setbacks in QLD?

The general rule of thumb is a building needs to be at least 6m from all road boundary setbacks. However, if you’re on the corner lot, this 6m applies to any road boundary by your home, not just the one at the front of your house.

Lots over 450 metres square

On larger properties, there tends to be a little more leeway, especially in rural areas.


  • Front boundary setback must be located 6m from the road.

Side and rear boundary setbacks depend on the following:

Height Setback

Under 4.5m 1.5m

4.5m-7.5m 2m

over 7.5m 2m plus 0.5m for every 3m exceeding 7.5m

Lots under 450 metres square

Smaller lots tend to require you to be more precise as you’re working with less land. So, here are the rules:


  • 6m to the front boundary unless it’s the same as adjoining houses.
  • 1m to side boundary setback
  • 6m to the rear boundary (this unless <25m deep, then 3-4.5m)

With a building on a corner property, each road boundary setback also needs to be 6m.

What does “acceptable solutions” mean?

Acceptable solutions are specific construction details with the term often being applied to building materials, methods and systems. In layman’s terms, an acceptable solution is what it sounds like: it outlines what building works are deemed acceptable by the council in the Queensland Development Code (QDC). If your proposed changes meet the acceptable solutions, you won’t need to get building approval or request a referral agency response.

What does “performance criteria” mean?

In construction, the performance criteria refer to the minimum that a structure or building needs to achieve. It basically outlines the requirements that need to be met by your proposed building project. Acceptable solutions meet these performance criteria and any alternate solution you pitch will need to also meet the performance criteria to be approved.

Example of performance criteria and acceptable solutions?

Below is an actual example of performance criteria and acceptable solutions being laid out in an actual government document.

Why it is important to talk to a building inspector before going ahead with anything.

When it comes to major renovation, you need to make sure everything you’re doing is not only legal but also safe. Building inspections provide an opportunity to discover any potential issues with your planned renovations and can.

If your proposed work doesn’t fall under the definition of approved solutions, you’ll need to get building approval. Council encourages you to contact a private building certifier to discuss and fine-tune your proposal.

What is an approved Building envelope and why is it only offered in larger developments?

An approved building envelope is a designated area within the property boundaries that decides where you can build. You must contain any future development within this designated area unless you have the approval to do otherwise. The purposes of a building envelope include:

  • Protection of native vegetation
  • minimising bushfire risks
  • retaining natural contours of your site
  • protecting rural amenity
  • minimising impact of your development on any waterways

How to get relaxation for the above setbacks?

If you need to get relaxation from the above setbacks, you’ll need to make an application with your local council. There are three main assessments* which are:

Express Assessment

This is for low-risk design proposals and you’ll receive a response within five days of the application being submitted.

Looking for an express assessment? You might be eligible if your proposal doesn’t involve any of the following:

  • small lot
  • corner lot
  • easement area
  • designated waterway corridor
  • protected vegetation
  • heritage place
  • an area described by a building location plan
  • aspects protected by a covenant

Standard Assessment

If your proposal required a siting variation or you’re not eligible for the express assessment, you’ll need to have a standard assessment. Expect them to take 10 business days to decide.

Amended Assessment

This service is for those who have previously had a response from the council regarding a proposal and wish to have it amended. Perhaps you’ve made minor changes to your proposal which you believe will qualify for approval. You can only have an amended assessment within 24 months of receiving the initial advice from the council. If it has been longer than 24 months, you’ll need to treat your proposal as a new request and use one of the above services.

*Disclaimer: This is based on the Brisbane Council process. Other areas may differ in their approach.

Need Help Picking the Right Builder For You?

How We Can Help You

Building a home is one of the biggest decisions you’ll ever make in your life. At Buildi, we’ll be there throughout the entire building process, guiding you step by step so you can avoid any pitfalls. We will help you by following these steps.

  1. Free Consultation – We will sit with you to understand what you are looking to accomplish.
  2. Due Diligence – We work with you to ensure you’re buying the right block of land at the right price without hidden problems.
  3. Builders tender – We will take your requirements out to the market of builders and they will bid to win your business.
  4. Present solutions – We will compile the top 3 options and present you with a comprehensive proposal on builders’ strengths & weaknesses along with prices and specifications.
  5. Contract Signing – We will work with you and your selected builder to ensure there is full transparency in what you are entering into.
  6. Building your home – We work closely with the builder to ensure all service levels are met and your project is on schedule.

Looking for advice on your next build? Get in touch to book your free, impartial consultation.


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