Minimum heights for residential rooms and spaces – What are the rules and when should I be concerned?

      By Renee Lovelady Tomas

      Let us set the scene.

      Mary has decided to buy an investment property. It is a Queenslander that has been raised, it contains 3 bedrooms upstairs, one below as well as a large rumpus area. Mary has done her sums and she can get a nice return on this house if she rents it out. Mary’s building inspector takes a look at the ground level of the property and measures the distance between the floor and the ceiling. Mary wonders why the inspector does this…

      Why measure

      A room or space must be of a height that does not unduly interfere with its intended function. The objective is to safeguard the occupants from injury or loss of amenity caused by inadequate height of a room or space. 

      The rules

      The National Construction Code 2016 Building Code of Australia – Volume Two (Class 1 and Class 10 Buildings) is the place to look.

      Clause sets out the acceptable construction practice for heights of rooms and other spaces. The definition of habitable room is:

      Habitable room means a room used for normal domestic activities, and—

      (a) includes a bedroom, living room, lounge room, music room, television room, kitchen, dining room, sewing room, study, playroom, family room, home theatre and sunroom; but

      (b) excludes a bathroom, laundry, water closet, pantry, walk-in wardrobe, corridor, hallway, lobby, photographic darkroom, clothes-drying room, and other spaces of a specialised nature occupied neither frequently nor for extended periods.

      Legal heights


      When should I be concerned?

      When the rooms or spaces do not meet the minimum height standards.


      Potential problems with purchasing a house with rooms that do not meet the minimum height standards

      The property owner may be left with:

      • A room or space that will not be classed as intended and will not be able to be used as intended;
      • (In certain situations) the Council taking action requiring the property owner to rectify the room heights to conform with the Building Code of Australia;
      • An insurance issue – potentially impacting a claim.


      We suggest that, when purchasing a property, you ask your building inspector to consider whether the rooms achieve the minimum heights, particularly in relation to homes that have been raised, extended or renovated. If you have any questions regarding your property or one that you are looking to purchase, call our property law team on (07) 4771 5664 or email 


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