Help for DIY builders and owner-builders in NSW, VIC, SE QLD, ACT

Design plans and 3D renders…

Ideally, every pod-building project should start with a set of design plans to suit the building size. Your floorplan will show where your dividing walls, windows/doorways, and elements such as bathrooms and kitchenettes will be placed – like the floorplans you’ll see on real estate websites but also in 3D. You might tweak one of our existing pod building designs to suit your exact needs, get your sketch design reproduced for you, or ask us to suggest a layout to suit your building size and practical needs. Once key decisions are made, the external views of your building can be 3D-rendered to show how your window and door placements will look on the outside, as well as any eaves or verandas, and your chosen external colour scheme.

Architectural drawings…

Once you’ve got your floorplan and appearances sorted, the next step in the pod-building process is getting your set of architectural drawings done. These drawings are unique to your property and are needed [a] for you to get quotes from builders, if you’re not DIY building yourself, as the builder will want to ‘see your plans’ (meaning your set of architectural drawings) before quoting on the job, and [b] for submission to council, certifier, authority, etc, to get approval or satisfy compliance.

Preliminary advice…

You might like to get expert preliminary advice on your pod-building project. Getting a ‘project prelim’ allows you to be certain that what you’ve got in mind to build will be permissible at your property, find out what type of approvals or other forms of compliance will be required for your project, find out how much approvals and other fees will cost, and get reliable answers to many other questions you may have about your pod-building project. Our network of pod-specialist architects and other fully insured advisors are ready to help you directly in NSW, QLD, VIC, and ACT. At a low fee they will analyse your project and registered site plan with any easements, setbacks, overlays, etc, and may get additional expert advice, such as from a town planner, as needed. Prelims are great for the DIY builder, owner-builder, or homeowner wishing to complete a pod-building project most cost-effectively.

Pod approvals FAQ

Here are answers to some FAQs about pod-building projects.

Start how it suits you. If you know what size of pod you can build, and where you’re allowed to position it on your property, you might like to start with getting your design plan and 3D renders done. If you’re ready to submit your proposed design for approval, you can start by getting your set of architectural drawings done. If you’re not sure what you’ll be permitted to build, you can start by getting expert preliminary project advice from one of our network partners.

If your building project is going to be habitable (according to the definitions in the Building Code of Australia) then it will need approval, no matter where it is, no matter what your proposed size. Otherwise, for non-habitable projects, there are options for exemption up to 3m high in VIC (<10m2 in residential zoning) and NSW (<20m2 in residential zoning). If you believe your project could qualify as an exempt development (no approval required), confirm by looking into more info yourself, or get preliminary project advice.

If your project needs approval, it will depend on your property and proposed project as to how simple or complex the approval requirements will be and, therefore, how much cheaper or more costly the process. Costs will include getting your architectural drawings done, as well as any necessary application fees, certificates, etc, to satisfy the approval process and the final ‘occupancy certificate’ in your particular case. Getting expert preliminary advice is the way to ensure your project is on the right track for practicality and affordability where compliance costs and any constraints on your project might be concerned. You can get a ‘prelim’ (preliminary advice consultation) from the experts in our network, or any architect or similar professional offering reliable, low-cost, fixed-fee advice.

If you’re buying a flatpack steel habitable building kit, their sales consultants should be able to give you a good idea over the phone, or with an online sales consultation, as to whether or not what you’re proposing would be doable at your place. It’s not binding advice but helpful for you to proceed with getting your design plans and 3D renders, or getting your architectural drawings done if you’re ready to get construction quotes, submit for approval, etc.

Pod buildings do not need concrete slabs. They have a ‘super-strong’ integrated flooring system that suspends above the ground level and is usually mounted upon ‘super-strong’ steel foundation piers (or skids for portability). The pod building system, available in all-Australian steel habitable flatpack building kits, allows for easy building on sloping and uneven blocks, or where access for building works is restricted.

These days, it’s not necessary for the architect or draftsperson to attend your site, which saves costs. Most local and state planning data is available online to professionals using various portals and costly software. Your architectural drawings must be specific to your site and will include the perspectives needed for your application to be considered by relevant authorities. Some projects require a digital site survey and other additional documents for reference.


The granny flat approval process was smooth with help from the [Pods] architect. Overall, using the pod, we easily saved $100,000 compared to what builders had quoted for a home extension.” – Verified client in Brisbane QLD

Help for DIY builders and owner-builders in NSW, VIC, SE QLD, ACT