How High Can My Two-Storey Home Be?

If you’re thinking about building a 2 storey home, you’re probably more than aware of the space saving benefits of doing just that. But how high can your 2 storey home actually be? The answer is not as straight forward as you may think.

Who governs the height of buildings in WA?

The West Australian Department of Planning governs regulations relating to the height of structures in WA. This includes any building, from a backyard shed to a high-rise apartment.
The regulations in question exist in the form of Residential Design Codes (also known as R-Codes). Any land in WA that is zoned as residential (or similar), is subject to an R-Code, which outlines the possible form and scale of any development within a particular area.

On the face of it, R-Codes offer straightforward guidelines for measuring the height of a building. But they also give local councils a high level of discretion when it comes to interpreting how heights should be measured.

This is why there is no hard and fast rule for determining the height of a building in WA. Each local council will have its own set of guidelines, which can make things unclear for people seeking to build their own home.

For more information on R-Codes in Western Australia, please read these guidelines published by the Department of Planning on behalf of the Western Australian Planning Commission (WAPC).

Case studies

When it comes to determining the exact height a building can be, there are many variations to the methods used. There is also a distinct difference between the way building heights and wall heights are assessed, which adds another level to the process. You could almost say that each council has its own special way of measuring a building, which can make things confusing.

Here are some examples:

  • One Southern suburb of WA controls overall building height by nominating a maximum AHD (Australian Height Datum) level for the top of the rod. AHD heights relate to the high tide mark in Fremantle.
  • A Northern shire draws on historic natural ground levels, in some cases dating back decades, to determine maximum heights.
  • In suburbs with great views, limits may be set to ensure buildings do not block the of other neighbours.

What can I do?

A good builder should perform an independent assessment on your block before moving forward with the design phase. This ensures that your ideal design aligns with prospective planning regulations.
We recommend asking your builder if they perform an independent planning assessment before you get attached to a design.

More resources

You may also be interested in reading this Guide to Building a House – published by the Department of Commerce, WA. It contains checklists for choosing a builder, buying off the plan and other important information relating to building a home in WA.

Talk to us

Our team has a Planning and Compliance Department, which performs a preliminary assessment on each block, so you have an idea of what parameters you are dealing with when choosing a design.
This initial assessment is not set in stone, as the local council has the final say when it comes to planning approvals. But it does give you a good starting point, and reduces the likelihood of unwanted surprises down the track.

For more information about building a quality two-storey home in Western Australia, contact our office. We have a range of modern designs especially tailored for families. Explore our website to view our designs, or get in touch to discuss your new home.