Designing our outdoor spaces

By Cath Hart Housing Industry of Australia WA Regional Director

One of the spaces Western Australians enjoy most is their homes is the outdoor space. When designing a new home or renovation, the R-codes (State Planning Policy 3.1) establish principles to ensure the outdoor area is functional and respectful of other properties in the area.

The principles establish outdoor living areas to provide spaces which can be used in conjunction with a habitable room of the dwelling, are open to winter sun and ventilation and optimise use of the northern aspect of the site.                                                                                                                             Similarly if our outdoor areas are a balcony or similar, the R-codes require the outdoor living areas are to be capable of use in conjunction with a habitable room of each dwelling, and if possible, open to winter sun.

To achieve these principles, prescriptive criteria can be met or an alternative design can be developed, which needs to be approved by the local government. The prescriptive criterion looks to ensure any outdoor area is provided away from the street by ensuring it is set into the lot. It also ensures accessibility from the home by having direct access from a habitable room such as a lounge or kitchen.

To ensure the outdoor space is usable and large enough to be functional for the type of home being designed, a minimum length and width dimension of 4m is prescribed, as the overall minimum size. The minimum size required depends on the zoning of your lot – for example if the lot is zoned R30, the minimum outdoor living area will be 24sqm. As the lot zoning increases, the minimum outdoor living area reduces. R40 requires 20sqm and R50 requires 16sqm.                                                    The R-codes also recognise the importance of providing shade in summer and allow up to one-third of the outdoor living area to be roofed. This means at least two-thirds of the required area is to be without permanent roof cover for outdoor activities.

It is also important to consider the impact our activities in outdoor living spaces may have on our neighbours. The R-codes seek to have minimal direct overlooking of active habitable spaces and outdoor living areas of adjacent dwellings, which for outdoor living areas is predominantly achieved by providing larger setbacks.

For houses with zonings less than R50, the required setback prescribed is 7.5m. Where setbacks cannot be provided, a secondary option to achieve effective privacy is to provide intervening screening.

Alfresco dining is a big part of our outdoor living and outdoor kitchens with gas barbecues are increasingly common. The ventilation requirements in the R-codes also help to meet the requirements for ventilation for your gas barbecue, so bear that in mind if you are thinking of closing up an area or installing blinds in the future.

HIA members can help you balance all of these requirements to design your dream home and outdoor space.

Find a local member by visiting or head to a display village and make the most of twilight opening hours from 4-7pm on Wednesdays.

REIWA calls for reintroduction of FHOG as established sales increase

by REIWA President – Damian Collins

As it currently stands, the Western Australian First Home Owners Grant (FHOG) unfairly discriminates against first homebuyers who choose to purchase established properties by only offering the $10,000 grant for newly built homes.

The $3,000 grant for established properties was removed by the Barnett Government in 2015 with the purpose of stimulating the construction and building industry, without proper consideration given to the impact it would have on first homebuyer activity throughout the wider market.

While WA retains the highest proportion of first homebuyers in its owner-occupier market out of any state or territory in the country, first homebuyer activity has slowed considerably over the last couple of years.

Initially, the decision to implement the FHOG for new-build properties saw an increase in first homebuyers choosing to build, but recently first homebuyer preferences have shifted back towards established properties, with more first-time buyers choosing to forego the grant in favour of purchasing an existing property in an established suburb.

Recent analysis by shows the number of first homebuyers in WA purchasing established properties increased 20% between the December 2017 and 2018 quarters – despite the grant only being in place for those who choose to purchase new builds.

It’s not fair so many first homebuyers are missing out on the grant simply because they don’t want to build a new home. Or even worse, it means some first homebuyers who want an established property are unable to enter the market. Housing affordability remains a significant hurdle for many Western Australians and we should be encouraging and incentivising all first homebuyers to enter the market, not just those who choose to build their first home.

REIWA is a strong advocate for the reintroduction of an FHOG for eligible first homebuyers who purchase an established residential property.

Increasing the demand for established housing will have a knock-on effect to other areas of the market while also supporting the government’s infill policy. This would allow more WA households to right-size into accommodation that suits their changing needs, resulting in more transfer duty revenue for the state.

First homebuyers have shown consistently they prefer to buy established homes. The WA Government should respect the preferences of first homebuyers by not discriminating between established and new-build properties, enabling more Western Australians to make the dream of homeownership a reality.


Housing diversity essential to WA’s long-term prosperity


By Damian Collins – REIWA President

With Western Australia’s population expected to grow from 2.5 million currently to between 4.4 and 5.6 million by 2050, there is much to be done to ensure our state can cater for this growth.

The State Planning Strategy 2050 forecasts up to 550,000 new dwellings will need to be built in Perth alone to meet this surge in population, and the household composition and age demographic will change considerably. We have a lot of work to do over the next 30 years to be able to meet this new and changing demand.

If you’ve been paying attention to some of the local planning debates that have been raging across Perth, you’ll know the issues of ‘density’ is a hot topic at the moment. The City of Nedlands in particular has featured quite prominently in the debate, with the local government hesitant to update its local planning scheme for fear of diminishing its area’s appeal.

While these concerns are understandable and steps should be taken to preserve the character, charm and heritage of these areas, Perth’s housing supply must evolve to accommodate our growing population.

The WA Government has made its intention clear on this matter, with Planning Minister Rita Saffioti recently announcing she would be intervening and drafting a new planning scheme for the City of Nedlands. While it’s unfortunate the WA Government has had to step in on a local government matter, it is critical our state’s housing supply diversifies to meet infill targets and improve liveability.

Increasing density doesn’t have to mean chopping up blocks or building giant high-rise apartments in the suburbs.

The City of Fremantle has led the way in this area, introducing amendments to its Local Planning Scheme that allow for increased medium-density housing within special control areas. The council’s innovative approach toward these amendments is an excellent example of how medium-density housing can be applied effectively in well-established suburbs without negatively impacting their appeal.

With Perth currently tracking well behind its infill target of 47%, every local government and city council must be proactive in improving its local planning schemes to enable a greater supply of housing diversity for residents so the WA Government’s infill aspirations can be achieved.