Sheds, shipping containers & tents

Building or using additional structures around your property can provide space, storage, access and added value to your property. Following the guidelines below will assist you to keep your neighbours happy and allow you to meet all the necessary requirements.

Building a back-yard shed is usually a fairly straight forward process. In some cases you may not require a development approval for building work. Regardless of whether a building approval is required, your shed must comply with all relevant building legislation and codes. Three important areas that you must be aware of are: shed size, location and Building Code of Australia compliance.

Shed size

When it comes to sheds and building approvals, size matters.

Sheds less than 10 m2 (length x width), having a mean height of less than 2.1 metres, and a maximum height of less than 2.4 metres with a side no greater than 5 metres in length, are deemed to be accepted development and therefore do not require a building approval; however, you must ensure that they are constructed and located to comply with all relevant codes.

The mean height is the vertical height of the building, and may be determined by the following calculation:

  • Total elevation area of the wall of a building/structure facing the boundary
  • The horizontal length of the building/structure facing the boundary

Where you would like to build a shed that does not meet the above mentioned criteria, you are required to obtain a development approval for building work. The building certifier may be employed by Council or work independently of Council as a private certifier. For further information on the role of a building certifier, please refer to our page entitled Building certifiers.

Shed location - siting

Shed placement (siting and setbacks) of the shed, requires compliance with the Queensland Development Code and applicable Planning Scheme provisions. Please see the section on Heritage for further information, view the key facts about a property page or contact Council for advice regarding the applicable zone and property details to see if a relevant planning approval is triggered (e.g. Neighbourhood Character).

Generally, the Queensland Development Code requires that all buildings and structures be sited:

  • A minimum of 6 metres from all road property boundaries (fence line).
  • Conditions for locations within 1.5 metres from a side and rear boundary (not adjoining a road).

Generally, some acceptable solutions of the Queensland Development Code MP 1.2 that allow a shed to be located within 1.5 metres of a boundary line are:

  • The height of a part within the boundary clearance is not more than 4.5 m and has a mean height of not more than 3.5m.
  • The total combined length of all buildings or parts, of any class, within the boundary clearance is not more than 9m along any one boundary.
  • The class 10a buildings or parts within the boundary clearance are located no closed than 1.5m to a required window in a habitable room of an adjoining dwelling.

The second dot point can be better explained by:

You propose to build a 6m x 6m shed or carport in your backyard to store your car or some other goods, and you would like to site the shed or carport 1 metre from your side and rear property boundaries. To locate your structure where you propose you will have to consider other buildings within 1.5 metres of the same property boundary. If you already have a building that is 6 metres long located within 1.5 metres (side/rear), your new shed must be positioned a minimum of 1.5 metres due to the overall length exceeding 9 metres (i.e. 6m+6m=12m).

If you do not meet the acceptable solutions outlined in the Queensland Development Code, a siting discretion approval is required from Council prior to a development approval for building work being issued. Each siting discretion application is assessed on its merits, and there is no guarantee that approval will be granted.

There are some cases where Planning Scheme provisions may apply to the shed / shipping container and different setbacks are in place. This is generally in a rural zone where a setback of 50 metres from each boundary is applicable. Visit key facts about your property to determine what zone your property is in and what setbacks are applicable.

Related forms

Online formDevelopment - Concurrence agency referral building works assessable against the Building Act APP 005 form (online)

PDFDevelopment - Concurrence agency referral building works assessable against the Building Act APP 005 form (for print)

Shed location in regards to Council infrastructure

When considering where you are going to locate your new shed, you must ensure that it is located clear of underground services and Council infrastructure (e.g. sewage, water, and storm water drainage pipes).

You may use Council’s online mapping software to determine whether any underground services may be running through the property. You may also purchase a copy of the house drainage plan, or land application area where applicable to accurately determine the location of these services and areas by contacting Council on 131 872.

Where you are unable to comply with the requirements, an approval may be required by Council.

Related form

Online formBuilding over or near water, sewer or stormwater services application form (online)

Shed structure

Once you have established a suitable location in mind and have considered the above requirements, you need to ensure that the shed is going to comply with the Building Code of Australia; namely the requirements for structural adequacy, fire separation and general health and amenity. Please note you must comply with all relevant codes and standards, whether or not your shed requires a development approval for building work. Please contact your building certifier if you have any questions regarding the requirements of the Building Code of Australia.

Please refer to Heritage advisory notes - carports & garages for further information.

For advice regarding your specific situation, or assistance with the preparation and lodgement of a building application, please contact Council on 131 872.

Related document

CL 017 Garage or Garden Sheet or Carport or Shade Sail Class 10 Checklist

Shipping containers are considered the same as a shed under the Building Regulations 2006. People commonly purchase or hire shipping containers to use on their land for storage purposes on either a temporary or permanent basis. Regardless of how long the shipping container is to be located onsite, a development approval for building work is required to be issued prior to establishing the container onsite.

Building application and approval

Application stage

To lodge a building application, you are required to submit Application forms 1 & 2 to a building certifier. The building certifier that you engage, may be employed by us or may be a private certifier. Should you choose to lodge your application with a private certifier, please contact them directly in relation to their requirement for application fees and supporting documentation. 

To lodge your building application with us, the completed application forms 1 and 2 should be accompanied by:

  • a site plan showing the size of the container, and it's location onsite with respect to all other buildings onsite and at least two boundary lines (the shipping container is to be located on the block in accordance with the acceptable solutions of the Queensland Development Code or Toowoomba Regional Planning Scheme.)
  • structural details, inclusive of a Form 15 Design Certificate from a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland, for a footing/slab design suitable to suitably anchor the container, whilst being able to support the combined weight of the container and its contents
  • the current fee.

Supporting documentation required for building approval

Please contact your building certifier to determine what supporting documents are required for building approval. Building certifiers will ensure that the shipping container is structurally stable when located onsite. In most cases, this stability can be achieved by anchoring the container to a concrete slab or footings capable of supporting the combined weight of the container and contents. You may be required to provide a design from a registered professional engineer of Queensland, accompanied by a Form 15 Design Certificate.

Additionally, you may be required to provide documentation detailing the following:

  • Stormwater, - most cases this is dealt with by installing a roof structure/sheeting/ gutters and edge flashing so as to prevent rainwater ponding on top of the container or discharging inappropriately.
  • Vermin – eliminate the harbouring of vermin, by sealing the area between the ground surface and the shipping container.
  • Protection from the elements – it is recommended that the shipping container be painted to protect it from the elements.
  • Confinement – for safety reasons, it is recommended to install a window to prevent self-enclosure.

Further information

PDFINFO 043 Development Assessment Panel Information Sheet

Online formForm 15 Design Certificate

Other permits and approvals may be required through Council or other governmental bodies. Please contact the Building Certification team for more information on forms, plans and fees on 131 872.

A tent is considered to be a temporary structure clad in canvas, plastic or similar material, with or without walls, supported by poles or similar supports and fastened to the ground using ropes, pegs or ballast.

Requirements for accepted development without building approval

In order for a tent to be considered as accepted development and not require an approval for building work, it must have a floor area of less than 500m² and must comply with the Building Code of Australia and Queensland Development Code M.P. 3.2 – Tents.

Requirements for approval

Any tent greater than 500m² requires development approval for building work and a referral of development application for building work to QLD Fire and Rescue Service for advice regarding the fire safety systems required for the tent.

Other approvals may need to be obtained from Council or other government agencies. Please contact Council's Building Certification section on 131 872 or visit your nearest Customer Service Centre.

Related information

Tents - What triggers a building approval information sheet

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