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Buying a home with living space under legal height

Imagine this; you have found your dream ‘Queenslander’ – a stunning 5 bedroom, 2 storey home where two of the bedrooms have been added downstairs along with a laundry and lounge room. It ticks all your boxes – but, is the space underneath legal height and if not, what are the implications?

What is the legal height in Queensland?

The measurement between the finished floor height to the lowest part of the ceiling for building class 1-2 & 3 must have a minimum height of 2400mm for ‘habitable’ rooms. The exception is a kitchen, laundry, hallway or corridor where the height can be a minimum of 2100mm.

If the room fails to meet the minimum ceiling height, then it is deemed to be a ‘utility room’.

What are the implications of buying a under legal height property?

  • With any future sale, the property cannot be marketed as a five-bedroom home, it must be marketed as a three-bedroom home with utility room
  • The questions you are asking will be asked by any future purchaser, thereby making resale harder
  • Your lender will only value the property as a three-bedroom home and will not consider the two bedrooms downstairs which may affect your ability to secure finance
  • If a ‘utility room’ is used as a habitable room such as a bedroom, your insurer may not cover you for a claim
  • You cannot rent the downstairs area as a separate residence.

 

Take home points:

  • If you are concerned as to whether the property is legal height and whether the property was lifted correctly, engage an experienced building inspector to provide advice
  • Undertake a search of Council’s records to understand if final approval has been provided
  • Speak to your insurer regarding your proposed use of the space
  • You may still decide to go ahead, having made an educated decision. You should also consider using this as a bargaining chip in your negotiations.
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