Illegal building, a more economical way.

An article in the ABC online news drew my attention to a building company that says illegal dwellings are a logical solution to the housing shortage and appear to be doing something about it. This is quite reasonable to me.

Business owner Graeme Kolpus has taken out a large ad on the back page of a local newspaper promoting illegal building. The ad promises to keep secrets safe from authorities and offers to provide recycled materials for unapproved dwellings in the Byron Shire and beyond.

Mr Kolpus says he provides a service in terms of affordable housing.

“We find a lot of people that we deal with, are building either cabins or doing garage fitouts to help them with their mortgage,” he said. “If it wasn’t for things like that, renting out extra rooms or cabins, they would be on the street in the renting circle. …

“If the compliance officers want to come around for a cuddle and a chat I mean they won’t get much out of us, we don’t dob anyone in. I mean we’ve been helping people build affordably for quite some time so I think we’re one step ahead of everyone who’s talking about it,” Mr Kolpus said.

As the item pointed to the NSW North Coast I did a bit of a search to try to find the relevant item in order to assess it but had no luck. I was able to find another item from what appears to be a real estate guy from Byron Bay, who seems to have an idea of the root cause and is realistic about it.

Our council is a great supporter of low cost housing but its action do not show this. It is the only one (or one of a few) councils in the whole state that is insisting on charging up to $25,000 council contribution for the extra dwelling. Of course, everyone is just going to do what has always been done which is make an extension under the house or out the back and add an illegal kitchen later.

Would be so much better to be able to have it legal with all the benefits that includes but that extra fee is too prohibitive. The BSC is currently considering coming in line with other councils. So now is the time to lobby council to drop the Section 94 contributions. …

While we are on the subject of illegal grannies (the backyard dwellings, not the elderly ladies on motor bikes) we have the problem of the insurance. If you have an illegal dwelling and your house burns down because of an unapproved cooking appliance then it may be possible for your insurer to renege on coughing up.

Which brings me to another wider problem of home insurance in this area. My experience is that a large number of dwellings here do not have a Section 109 Occupation (or Final) Certificate. Or maybe some parts of the home are not legal. … Some insurers will not pay up in these circumstances.

I am in contact with some good local insurance brokers and if you have any questions, contact me and I will refer you on.

This is a typical example of petty regulation creating difficulties for the average guy. With a $25,000 fee the council is really asking for most of the cost of building the bloody thing just to get approval to get Granny housed where the family can keep an eye on her. Some will argue that rental of such a building is a commercial activity which is irrelevant.