Built a Single Carport, Neighbour Complained. Council Says I Have to Demolish It

Hi fellow OzB.

This is my first post ever. Please be nice.

I have recently erected a single car carport and a slab to support it on my property in my backyard and apparently the neighbour has directly complained to the council and i had a surprise visit from them just after new years.

This is my first ever property, only lived here since September 2020. I thought I got got along with the neighbour with small talk etc, but I guess not and did me a dirty, and since then he won't even look at me :( or say hi

During the visit of the council member, I was told I have to demolish the carport and the slab under it and addition, unrelated to the complaint to also demolish the small shed and the slab under that (already there when bought the property). As they said I needed council approval for such structures. According to NSW legislation I have to have everything 900mm away from the fence. But it would be impossible for me to build a carport in anyway if so…

The only thing that annoys me is that the neighbour has bigger and more structures in their backyard which is very close or actually on the fence, and they don't have approval for them. (Checked online). They have a massive carport in front of their house, a garage, shed and pergola.

I have consulted with some professionals to draft and help complete a Development Approval and they quoted me $4000+ which is more than half of what the project costed.

I was writing this just in case someone had a similar experience, and if I am getting rekt by all sides. Thank you for reading this.

  • UPDATE 1. I was able to find a quote for $1500 draftsman and survey combined. Plus council fees…. A much better quote.
    Will keep you updated with the outcome.

  • Update 2. I have demolished it (taken it down), additional expenses to the DA made it almost cost the carport, thank you for Ur kind advice and suggestions. Sydney is a great place to live with neighbours that get along perfectly. Thank you Bankstown council…

Poll Options

  • 53
    Pay the contractors for the DA
  • 1231
    Do the dirty back on the neighbour
  • 19
    Demolish everything
  • 9
    Do nothing maybe council will forget :) /other


  • +39 votes


    • +13 votes

      bikies with wrecking balls

      • +22 votes

        They came in like that

        • +6 votes

          All they wanted to do was break your walls…


            @ccrap: Never hit so hard…


            @ccrap: That's where all the coke is.

      • -4 votes

        Miley Cyrus


          and goats

  • +109 votes

    They must be confident if they dobbed you in and they apparently don't have approval?

    • +20 votes

      Lol at the council too….
      Came over for surprise visit yet not noticing next door had non compliant structures?

      • +52 votes

        Why would they bother looking? They are a council worker.

        • -1 vote

          Typical government employee attitude. They are overpaid and underworked…all at the expense of our tax payer money.

    • +4 votes

      Yup I thought that too. Hopefully OP is 100% sure it was the neighbour that dobbed them in if considering doing the dirty back. Maybe the neighbour works for or has mates in council.

      • +10 votes

        Exactly. You have no idea what kind of immunity your neighbour can get for having mates or good relationship with the government departments. If you think Australia is still a fair and justice country you are too innocent.

        • +7 votes

          If you think Australia is still a fair and justice country you are too innocent.

          Reason why there is such a push back against having an Independent Commission Against Corruption.

          • -5 votes

            @netjock: No. I in fact agree with the idea of not having those so called Ombudsman, anti-corruption departments etc because they are not independent and hopeless anyway and most likely to tell you that your tip-off doesn’t warrant an investigation and closes the case. We might as well scrap them and allocate taxpayer money for something tangible even if some of the spending vanishes in the corrupted government agencies.


              @wtfnodeal: It is symbolic enough to strike fear into most would be criminals. But the amount of push back just means there is more criminals who believe they will get caught, threatened by a symbolic move.

              Say APRA / ASIC are both awful at protecting the masses and the few prosecutions are very symbolic and far too late to get people's money back.

    • +2 votes

      Don't open the door


      how is that information available to the public? sounds like OP is lying to me.


        OP needs to provide photos of their carport and whatever the neighbour has so we can see for ourselves. For all we know the carport is massive and the neighbour has a tiny shed.

        • +1 vote


  • +46 votes

    Can't believe I actually waste my time looking up development laws in states other than my own.

    But yes, according to the Exempt Development for Car Ports you had to have built it 900mm away from your boundary.

    Did you build it right next to the fence or something? If someone erected a wall right next to my fence I wouldn't be terribly happy, but I also wouldn't snitch. Especially if I myself had illegal structures.

    • +1 vote

      Well its a carport so there are no walls, and its all colourbond, the contractor said it fireproof.

      • +4 votes

        Even steel posts need to be fire rated if they're too close to boundary. And there's generally a form that needs to signed off by someone too (and it probably won't be the contractor who can do it). Also it's surprisingly expensive. Ask me how I know.

        • +21 votes

          How do you know?

        • +8 votes

          Don't leave us hanging, I've got things to do tonight..


          I don't think this is correct. There's also regulations as to how much of the structure can be open, which I believe is something like three or more walls must be enclosed no more than 66% (don't quote me on this, it's something LIKE that but I won't be spot on in what I'm saying here.)

          I have a carport that I know for 100% certainty is compliant, is hard up against the fence, shares a brick wall with the neighbouring house, and is a timber structure. If I put a roller door on it, it's my understanding that it will cease to be compliant and would then, and only then, need to be a fire-rated structure.


          Been through this when I built a boundary shed a few years ago. Couldn't use colorbond on the boundary wall because it doesn't burn easily so it doesn't have a fire rating. So stupid. Had to be either brick or fibre cement.


        The Colorbond is 'non-combustible', (i.e. it won't easily catch fire), any structure built on / within 900mm of property boundary needs to be Fire Rated to 60/60/60 (i.e. needs to prevent spread of fire from the neighbouring property), however that applies to the wall facing / parallel with the boundary.

        As this is a carport (open on at least two sides), but the roof still needs to be Fire Rated.

  • +48 votes

    Well, yeah. You can't just build permanent structures willy nilly unless your council explicitly says they're exempt from approvals.

    You also can't build anything within 900mm of a boundary without it also being fireproofed/firewalled (assuming your council allows you to build closer to boundary). It sounds like your structure doesn't comply at all. Even if it did, you'll still need to stump up for approvals and probably surveying and engineering too.

    Did you DIY?

    But if your neighbour has similar unapproved structures, then by all means dob them in if it makes you feel better. Note though that just because it doesn't appear in an online search doesn't mean it wasn't approved. Our extensions are all approved, but nothing shows up online, not even an application for the work.


      I had a tradie help me. Good point about the search, but i doubt council would provide this information to me for no good reason.

      • +16 votes

        It's possible it wasn't the neighbour: Most Australian councils now have NearMap, which gives them a high-resolution (<6cm) historical view (10+yrs) of what was and is on your property, they can see easily if a large tree has been removed or a structure added. eg. https://www.nearmap.com/content/dam/nearmap/aerial-imagery/a...

        In combination with the various online planning maps that planners use every day, they have spotted it easily, (unless your new shed was covered under a canopy of trees).


          well can i use these portable gazebos as a carport?


        • +2 votes

          it gets worse/better than that too. While you imagine public servants trawling google maps looking for things that would justify an inspection of your property, they don't even need to do that, AI's been trained to identify objects and only have real people inspect the photos when it thinks, for example, that there's now a pool in your backyard.

          So it probably wasn't even a council worker that ordered the inspection, it could've been an algorithm that said that looks like a new structure at your place that's too close to the neighbour and we've not got any applications in our system at that address, and then sent a work request to the inspectors to get on over there.


        you can read the regulations online. the rules are clearly stated what will and will not be approved. if you think your neighbour will not pass inspection then most councils (my council) have a form you can fill to get an inspection and they come out to inspect. There could be a small fee (eg $200) to do this.

        I was buying a property and noticed the owner had converted a carport into a garage and also built a deck with a roof. I asked the owner if they have approval and to confirm they do in writing… I never got anything concrete. I low balled my offer (what the house is worth without those structures).

    • +1 vote

      Carports can be built to boundary and not require any FRL depending on the location of the dwelling.


        Can you elaborate on this?

        • +1 vote

          Its all documented in the national construction code… im in process of getting carport compliant with council also (also neighbour tried to dob us in but it was an existing structure so we are getting up to code).


            @chriskq: Yep afaik you can build non inhabitable structures to the boundary.

            Garage, laundry etc.

            Habitual areas need to be 900 from the sides. In my area anyway

            • +1 vote

              @SgtBatten: My property and my next door neighour have garages that are less than 400mm from each other and are so close that they act as the fence line for both of our properties.

              These garages have been present for over 20 years (as far as I can tell) and both houses have sold multiple times without issue so I don't think this 900mm rule is all the ubiquitous.

              • +1 vote

                @Nereosis: My words were garbage above.

                Rooms like a garage or laundry can be on the boundary.

                Other rooms cannot.

                So yeah, I agree with you. My house built in 2014 has a garage wall as the fence, rest of my house is 900 off the boundary.

    • +9 votes

      This 100%. Just because it doesn't show up in an online search, it doesn't mean they don't have approval.
      Councils did everything on paper until ~10 years ago and those systems take eon's to digitise (if they ever do - it's expensive and largely pointless).

      When I worked at a council they discovered a whole house (via aerial photos) that was constructed the way OP did his carport (no approvals). It was out of town and not visible from the road so he thought he would get away with it. Long story short, the council took to him to Land and Environment Court and he lost. He was forced to demolish the house at his expense, pay a substantial fine and pay the councils costs. About half a million in total.

      Let it be a warning to anyone considering building an unapproved structure, you will be caught. The days of "getting away with it" are over. Councils have access to high resolution aerial imagery and analysis that can automatically show up physical changes to any property, then they cross reference with their approvals. If they find anything unapproved they will send out a "please explain" letter, followed by an inspector. Councils are also on the lookout for unapproved pools.

      Even if OP's neighbour didn't "do the dirty" on him, he would have been picked up in the next 6-12 months anyway.

      • +3 votes

        Interesting, this is surprising to me, I know a guy at my local council (Near Newcastle) and he said that they don't monitor/investigate anything proactively, only if reported.

        What council did you work for that used HQ Aerial monitoring?

        • +6 votes

          I worked at one of the councils a few hundred kilometres north of Newcastle. But now I'm in Vic.

          All Councils can purchase access to high resolution aerial imagery. There are various companies (eg Nearmap, Photomapping, etc) flying aerial imagery over Australian cities (every month) and towns/regional area's (every year). https://www.nearmap.com/au/en

          There are also coordinated state government programs that capture, store and analyse aerial imagery (going back to the 1960's). https://www.land.vic.gov.au/maps-and-spatial/imagery/coordin....

          The property in Northern NSW that had to be demolished was somewhat of a chance discovery by the mapping analysts reviewing the photography. But in the time since (~10 years), automated image recognition has advanced massively and the process is now automated (with human verification).

          • +2 votes

            @field1985: ^^^
            I work for a WA council, we have the same system.

        • +4 votes

          he said that they don't monitor/investigate anything proactively, only if reported

          If finance reports there is a budget shortfall. Then pull out the maps and write a few infringement notices.

          • +1 vote

            @netjock: Bingo! The state governments and imagery suppliers are both proactively doing their own investigations and reporting them to relevant Councils.

            Also if anyone thinks painting a roof green will help hide it, don't bother, because they also use near-infrared imagery (which has different reflectance properties to visible light. ie making any buildings stand out from the vegetation), also photogrammetry and laser scanning to take height measurements for 3D modelling.



              The state governments and imagery suppliers are both proactively doing their own investigations and reporting them to relevant Councils

              Can't be cheap and I can't see them doing it from the goodness of their hearts.

              Really grinds me the headline low tax rates but the government / quasi government entities are all having a hack. It is almost like you're paying median $1.2m in Sydney (or at least $300k in any other worthwhile location) like a starter kit and watch as each government entity slowly drains your bank balance.

              • +1 vote

                @netjock: While it is expensive (roughly $10 million to capture and analyse a whole state, $1 million for a capital city), it is easily cost negative to the government, given the massive fines they can impose, and it is miniscule compared to the value of the properties ($billions) they service and levy rates on.
                Councils also use aerial imagery for a huge range of other applications (roads, land management planning, sewage, water, stormwater, etc), so the cost is negligible as they are already purchasing access for other purposes.
                Of course they are not doing it out of the goodness of their hearts, but to fulfil their regulatory requirements as Governments and to ensure public safety (eg fire risks, bushfire risks, over-crowding, environmental loss, heat island effect, open space quota's, etc, etc) through compliance/enforcement methods.
                People that build illegal structures are like shoplifters, they sneakily benefit while everyone else pays their costs through increased prices and the cost of the required enforcement.



                  but to fulfil their regulatory requirements as Governments and to ensure public safety (eg fire risks, bushfire risks, over-crowding, environmental loss, heat island effect, open space quota's, etc, etc) through compliance/enforcement methods.

                  Does make sense but not in context of carports and back yard sheds. Maybe you need to show a building permit before Bunnings will sell you a shed. But we know that won't happen because politicians won't get a donation or job with Bunnings.

                  People that build illegal structures are like shoplifters, they sneakily benefit while everyone else pays their costs through increased prices and the cost of the required enforcement.

                  There is people who do the dodgy but I doubt everyone is building to commit a crime. Most people who get it wrong has no idea. Maybe the council should send out a guide when every home changes hands but we know they don't do that because it isn't money well spent.


              @field1985: I've also been told that councils periodically run drones over area's of environmental significance eg properties with a vegetation protection overlay that are able to capture the vegetation density and detect any deviations from previous years. Any idea about this?

              • +2 votes

                @donkcat: It's certainly possible, but I doubt they would need to use drones. Due to the accuracy of aerial photography from airplanes (which is now 3-6cm - which is enough to make out a letterbox and fine for vegetation density/change detection), drones are actually far more expensive.

                An imagery aircraft can capture much larger areas (whole cities in 5-7 flights) at similar or better resolutions then drones (limited to a street per flight), due to their highly customised aerial imagery cameras and better flight times (on fuel instead of batteries). Ultimately drone flight times are too short, except maybe for building/mine site, powerline and infrastructure inspections, where sub-centimetre and higher temporal resolutions (checked more often) are required. It would need to be an extremely significant environmental area to go to that effort.

                I actually did my honours thesis on a spatial analysis of councils of how well they were implementing appropriate environmental overlays (VPO, ESO, etc) over area's where threatened species have been identified (by previous aerial image analysis to create statewide vegetation maps) in their jurisdictions.


                  @field1985: Interesting, thanks for the insight, amazing how far all this stuff has come. I don't think it's a bad thing to have AI monitoring tree removal, dwellings constructed without the required permits etc

      • +1 vote

        When inquiring about related matters at my local council I asked the development officer if they looked at Google Maps/etc to find non compliant structures. He laughed and said they don't and it would take too long to search through the properties.

        What does happen however is when a property is sold there is a title check and all the illegal structures show up. Property can't be sold and the home owner gets in trouble. So if you never sell it's likely you're okay.


          "it would take too long to search through the properties" - That was the case until recently, but in the last 3-5 years the processes involved have largely been automated and are now offered as a service by commercial vendors.


            @field1985: I spoke with the development officer in mid 2017. Near Maps, Google Maps, etc were all well established and widely used by that stage.

            I am aware of a property in the area with an illegal structure, and so far the owner has not received notice from the council. If councils are using the tech, my local one doesn't.

  • +9 votes

    Well you've built the carport, might as well get DA approval and look at getting a few more quotes for cheaper price?

    Then do the dirty on the neighbour. But how do you know which neighbour did the dirty?


      The tradie that helped me built the carport said that the neighbor said something, but he never brought it to my attention, only until i received the complaint i called him to clarify…

    • +4 votes

      They said the neighbour's attitude changed so they must have put 2 and 2 together.

  • +25 votes

    What an idiotic and selfish neighbour. Get them right back…how stupid can some people be…complaining to the council when they've got the same unapproved structures.

    • +19 votes

      He doesn't even say hello anymore, and always turns his back towards me. No idea why he is like this, I'm quiet and keep to myself, and he isn't even home half the time as he is always off and away with his wife in his caravan. :(

  • +14 votes

    Shitty neighbours can make your life great or utter hell. I despise one of mine.

    Get back at them and feign ignorance.

    • +3 votes

      Wouldn't they just make your life shitty?


        Not if there are some distances between your and their house. just grab popcorn and enjoy the show.


        Well you could always pretend another neighbour dobbed them in.


        They have already decided to be a shitty neighbour. Might as well let them have some repercussions

    • +23 votes

      Just tell him the council inspector must have noticed his dodgy structures over the fence while he was at your place.

      It's an own goal then! :D


        can it be anonymous? inspector could still slip


      We hardly have anything to do with the neighbors I have now, a young family to the left, an old guy to the right, problem is, both are quite noisy at 6am with the kids screaming and the old guy with his tractor or whatever machinery he has going. I wouldn't mind so much if I didn't get stuck with most of the night shifts, but at least they keep to themselves and don't bother me otherwise.


        told council to mail out those Noise Nuisance tables out to your street?

    • +1 vote

      an old lady on my street broke into her neighbours car because she asked her not to park over the driveway… its been a hillarious week…

  • +2 votes

    I really dont want to demolish all of it.. I will try and get another drafting/architect quote to see if I can shave a few hundred. Does anyone know or recommend someone? NSW, south west syd.

    • +1 vote

      You can probably get a draftsman to create the drawings for less than $500. You may need a structural engineer to also sign off on it. Should be similar price, maybe a bit higher if they need to provide drawings too.

      Then you can submit the DA yourself.

      • +2 votes

        how will the DA be approved if it violates the boundary restrictions?

        • +3 votes

          You can get relaxations. I had to seek a relaxation from council when I built mine. Although I did it correctly and got development approval prior to building it. They relaxed the clearance to the stormwater service pipe out the front.

        • +1 vote

          The boundary restrictions apply for a structure that is exempt from a DA.

          You can build right on the boundary if you submit a DA and it is approved. Of course the structure then has to meet with the BCA and any fire regulations.

          OP should have known better.

    • +9 votes

      Can't you apply for a retrospective planning permit to shut the council up?


        thats called a building application…. if you have already been served notice from council (which it sounds like is what happened here) then need to go the DA route…

    • +15 votes

      Seriously, ask council for an example of the minimum they'd expect from the plans to approve. Go to SketchUp online and use the free personal account and have a go at drawing it, cut and paste the pictures into word/PowerPoint/ms paint and submit. Just did the same here in Vic in the same situation and it was fine. Ask your tradie for details on the bolts used, etc. Just needed to pay $600 to the building surveyor to come and inspect.

      • +13 votes

        Epic. That’s like doing your own passport photo but next level!


        This was maybe 20 years ago and in Canberra. My dad wanted to put up a carport and got me to literally draw it up with pen. Just printed out our existing house plan then drew on top. As long as you mark out the critical distances (eg to fence and dimensions/height) thats all they need to approve. Not sure what the standards are now. Its best to call council up directly and ask.


        yep.. I just sketched mine on paper and got engineering and a building surveyor via email.
        You don't need something done up in Revit etc