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How Big Can A Patio Cover Be? A Guide to Planning Your Cover

You’re considering installing a patio cover, and one of the first considerations is: how big can the patio cover be?

It’s not always just a case of how big you’re allowed to build it, but how big should it be based on your property and will it fit the needs you intended for it. So that’s what we’re going to explore in this article.

Regulations in Perth dictate that when building a patio one must usually submit plans and obtain a building permit and development approval. It cannot be more than 1/3 of your outdoor living area, and at least 500mm setback from the boundary. Some councils can make exceptions. An ideal height should be around 2.4 metres tall and it should be large enough for your intended use.

That’s the brief summary, but there’s more to consider…

Before we get fully onto answering the question of how big can a patio cover be, we need to consider whether you have local council approval first.

How big can a patio cover be?

Let’s first look at getting the legal requirements in place. There was talk of relaxing the regulations around installing a patio cover in Perth and areas of Western Australia, but this did not come to fruition. Ideally, in order not to get into strife after your build, get some professional advice in the first instance. And it’s always best to contact your local planner at your local council for the most relevant advice.

Gable Roof Patios Perth Image Scaled

The legal size for a patio cover in Perth

In Perth, the legal size of a patio cover is also based on whether it will be used as a permanent structure or temporary shelter.

When it comes to design aspects, the Department of Planning consider a patio area to be “roofed structures not more than 0.5m above natural ground level, unenclosed on at least two sides, and covering no more than 10 per cent of the site area or 50m2 whichever is the lesser”.

So by calculating 10% of the lot area should give you an idea of how large your patio area can potentially be, or go with 50m2.

Remember to take into account the setback regulations. More on that shortly.

How high your patio cover should be

The height of a patio cover is based on the required clearance of other structures, and on the size of the area over which you want to build the patio cover. This can range between 2.4m and 3m in height.

Keep in mind that the taller a cover is the less it’s likely to provide the kind of protections you set out to achieve, meaning it’s more open to the elements, or direct sunlight. But low patio covers can feel claustrophobic and cramped.

You should ideally aim for around 2.4m for ample overhead height.

After installing hundreds of patio covers, we can assist you in what design works for your property and achieves your desired aims. Here are some other aspects to consider before building your patio cover.

How big your patio cover should be

Every property and space varies. So aside from length and width, the overall size and shape needed for you will depend on what you want it to do for you.

By this we mean will it hold the furniture you would like? Is it a suitable area to cook in? Does it provide sufficient shade or shelter on the correct sides? Will there be sufficient ventilation?

Where should you build your patio cover?

Shade and functionality play an important role in where exactly your patio should reside.

Typically, patios installed in Perth extend outward from the rear door, providing that location meets other criteria such as adequate shade, etc.

We also need to satisfy factors in relation to the building codes and any Home Owners Association (HOA) restrictions. More on that shortly.

All councils should provide guidelines for most structures regarding where they can be built. Often this might also include certain design, materials and finish requirements such as colours too.

Example patio cover size:

Patio sizes can be deceiving. Often, people underestimate the size of cover they actually need.

An extra few metres can create more of a sense of space and luxury. And if you’re looking to create a more cozy area then this can still be achieved within a wider space. Adding a few metres simply allows for more useful options in the future.

Now let’s move on to some of the regulations and requirements set out by Perth’s local councils regarding installing a patio cover.

If you are partial to reading regulation material, then we’ve distilled down some of the crucial points below, hopefully, this helps provide a quick understanding.

Installing a patio cover in Perth: Regulations


In Perth, if you’re looking to build a covered patio – or even to replace or alter one – then you will need to obtain the necessary approvals from your local council. The process is usually completed in around 3-6 weeks, but can sometimes take up to 3 months depending on the council and the planner assigned to your application.

After permits are granted, we can then start fabrication and after that will be construction. This time varies but skillion patio covers are installed very quickly. It also depends on the materials, and our patio structures are made quicker when built in steel.


The local council in Perth considers a covered patio to be:

“A patio is defined as “an unenclosed structure covered in a water-impermeable material which may, or may not be attached to a dwelling.”

(R-Codes – State Planning Policy 3.1 – Residential Design Codes)

In the area of South Perth, a ‘patio’ is described as an open-sided structure that is roofed with ‘Colorbond’ metal, tiles, or other opaque and water-impermeable material.

Patio cover approvals required

There are usually approvals that you will require from your local council prior to starting construction. Let’s take a quick look at those next.

Just be aware that having built patio covers in and around Perth for many years, we have documentation that we regularly submit to the councils for approval. So we can walk you through this process.

Development approval in Perth

Development approval isn’t always required for a pergola, but it is for a patio. Development approval has two main areas of focus. Let’s look at how they work.

Flat roof patio black freestanding, carport patio

Preparing and submitting a site plan and elevations

All covered patio applications must include at least a site plan and elevations.

If you don’t understand how to create a site plan that will pass approval, then it’s best to leave this part to professionals once you’ve conveyed and finalised what exactly you would like to build and placed an order with us.

Site plans are drawn on the computer using AutoCAD by professionals like us here at Mackson – after we’ve talked through your desired plans. The easiest way to proceed with this is to contact us and we can help you with the process.

Standard Specifications

The final patio designs will be based on engineer certified specifications and details.

We use a set of standard specifications that are submitted along with your application. If you have a larger than average patio proposal, then these may need to be reviewed by a structural engineer. Again, we will take you through this where needed.

There are also town planning requirements that need to be taken into consideration set against the City Town Planning Scheme and Policies.

Town planning assessment

Once submitted, along with a covering letter, your local council’s planning department will assess the application for development approval for your patio based on the requirements of the Planning and Development 2015 Regulations

Patio covers that you wish to install at the front of your home have a number of other considerations such as streetscape and other factors and can be harder to obtain. Come and discuss this with us to understand more.

Building permit in Perth

The City will assess a building permit application needed for a patio based on the Building Code of Australia (BCA) and the City’s Policies.

The main considerations are:
Setbacks

Setback refers to the distance between the structure and the boundary. This is in line with the BCA, and is usually based on fire safety regulations.

  1. The roof of the patio must be set back a minimum of 500mm from the lot boundary (or from another building). You will need to obtain a Certificate of Design Compliance and a Performance Solution from a fire engineer to get council’s approval. Also in some cases your neighbours will also need to provide a signed comment form allowing the build.
  2. Guttering must be set back a minimum of 450-500mm depending on the council.
  3. The setback is subject to compliance with the ‘fire separation’ requirements of the BCA. Extended support columns can, however, border the lot boundary.
  4.  A parapet wall may be necessary if you want the roof less than 500mm from the lot boundary. Again, we can offer advice on how to tackle all these aspects. Just get in touch by clicking here.
Other requirements

Other requirements are mostly concerning structural adequacy, drainage, and any flashing and guttering installed.

How big can a patio cover be… Next steps

We hope this has provided something of an overview on sizing up your patio cover. 

If you already know all this and are ready to install, then perhaps one of our DIY Patio Kits is all you need to get started. Otherwise, if you’re just in the “budgeting and planning” stage, then your best option is to get some professional help and experience.That’s where we can help. We’ve been installing patio covers for over many years so why not give us a contact now and we’ll be happy to assist.