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Before applying to your local council to undertake any major improvement, you must first talk to your client service officer and apply for ‘in-principle’ approval. After the council approves the plans, you need to supply a copy to your client service officer. If the plans are suitable, your client service officer will send you final approval letter. When you tell us the work is complete, DCJ will inspect the improvements to ensure that it meets Australian Standards.

The Alterations to a Home Standards must be given to tradespeople and builders carrying out the alterations, and their work must comply with these Standards. DCJ can refuse to accept any alteration work that does not meet the Standards and can request that you remove, at your expense, any unauthorised work that has been carried out.

What happens if I move out?

DCJ will usually ask you to remove the alterations when you move out. If DCJ agrees that the alterations can be left at the property, it will reimburse you for it at the current (depreciated) value. If DCJ does not agree for the alterations to be left, it will charge you for costs incurred in removing it and restoring those areas affected by the alteration. If DCJ has asked you to move, you will not be reimbursed for alterations if you are being relocated to a property with similar alterations or amenity. If we establish your entitlement for reimbursement, we will usually only reimburse you for alterations that have been approved in writing. The amount you are reimbursed will be the depreciated value and not the replacement cost.

Where do I get a copy of the Alterations to a Home Standards?

The Alterations to a Home Standards are set out below.

1. Kitchen cupboards

You must use licensed electricians and plumbers for any electrical and plumbing work. Ensure you record their licence numbers.

Use only high moisture resistant (HMR) materials in cupboard construction.

Standards for kitchen cupboards:


  • Minimum 32 mm thick HMR particleboard, laminated with high pressure decorative laminate for high resistance to surface wear, impact and scratching.

Doors and drawer fronts:

  • Minimum 16 mm thick HMR particleboard or HMR medium density fibreboard (MDF), laminated with high pressure decorative laminate having medium resistance to surface wear, impact and scratching.
  • Provide a 2 mm PVC plastic edge strip to all doors and drawers.


  • 13 mm thick (bottom 16 mm), of either HMR particleboard or medium-density HMR fibreboard (MDF), finished with white melamine.
  • Completely integrated drawer slide system, comprising a high-quality epoxy coated white steel self-closing feature runner 30-kg load capacity.


  • Minimum 16 mm thick HMR particleboard with white melamine finish to all internal surfaces, including edge of frame, carcass, backboard and shelves.


  • Minimum 16 mm thick HMR particleboard, with 2 mm black vinyl or high-pressure high-resistance laminate finish, including any edges.

Cupboard doors:

  • Use concealed side wall-mounted hinges with 170° swing.

Kitchen assemblies:

  • Must carry a compliance label to current Australian Standards.

2. Bathroom alterations

Due to the potential for leaks, work that could damage the waterproofing of the bathroom is NOT ALLOWED, such as retiling the floor or walls, relocating the bath or toilet, or installing a new shower. The following fittings, however, can be installed:

  • new washbasins
  • wall cupboards
  • towel rails, grab rails
  • toilet roll holders
  • shower screens.

3. New fixed appliances units, built-in heaters

You must have council approval before installing an air-conditioning unit. Air-conditioning units and built-in heaters must be installed by licensed tradespeople to meet the equipment manufacturer’s instructions.

4. New carpet

Carpets are not to be glued to the floor (NO direct-stick).

Information for carpet suppliers or laying contractors:

Carpet type:

  • 100 percent bulked continuous filament (bcf), solution dyed nylon
  • Loop pile tufted carpet
  • Level pile surface or with slight modulation
  • One-tenth or one-eighth inch gauge
  • 678 g/m2 (20 oz/yd2) total pile mass
  • 5 mm maximum pile height
  • “Actionbac”, woven polypropylene secondary backing
  • Fire rating to BCA
  • ACCS rating for Residential Extra Heavy Duty (Stairs)
  • ACCS registration number on back to a minimum of four times across the width at one-metre lengths
  • Colour as approved by DCJ Housing

5. Floor and wall tiles

Floor and wall tiles standards:

Ceramic floor tiles:

  • First Quality to ISO 13006
  • Comply to AS 4586
  • Vitrified or Porcelain
  • Warpage not exceeding 0.5mm
  • Surface Hardness to MOHS Min 6
  • Water absorption to ISO10545-3
  • Chemical resistance to ISO10545-13
  • Slip resistance to Australian Standard AS4586
  • Tile thickness ≥ 7.0mm
  • Tile Thickness ≥ Min 5.5mm
  • Full glaze over face ceramic tile
  • Ceramic biscuit (Bisque) must be engobed
  • Surface Hardness min MOHS Min 3

6. Security grilles

Security grilles should suit the building and locality in which you live. They must have keyless, quick-release type locking to open the grille in an emergency.

7. Security shutters

Shutters should suit the building and locality in which you live. They must have keyless, quick-release type locking to open the shutter in an emergency. Install manual shutter controls ONLY (electrically-operated systems fail in a fire).

8. Pergolas and gazebos

The proposed pergola/gazebo must have DCJ and local council approval before work starts, and can only be built on land controlled by you. The proposed structure should match the existing dwelling in materials and look, be structurally sound, freestanding and NOT be attached to any other structure.

9. Paving

All paving must be laid with falls to allow any water to run away from the dwelling. Paving levels should NEVER be formed higher than the adjoining dwelling’s damp-proof course (DPC) and brick weep-holes.

10. Rainwater tanks

Rainwater tanks must be installed by a licensed plumber and comply with any council or water authority requirements. Rainwater tanks must not be connected to the internal plumbing of the property.

11. Solar photovoltaic systems

Solar PV systems can be installed by tenants only on single dwellings (cottages or villas/townhouses with their own roof space) and written approval must be obtained. We do not recommend installing the systems on dwellings with old roofs or significant shading from trees or other buildings. Installers must hold a Clean Energy Council Solar PV accreditation. Tenants must pay all installation and maintenance costs. We will usually not reimburse a tenant if they choose to leave the system at the property when they move out.

12. Swimming Pool

A swimming pool must comply with the Swimming Pools Act 1992. In-ground swimming pools are not permitted. A swimming pool must be approved by DCJ and your local council prior to installation.

For more information regarding the installation of a swimming pool, go to the swimming pools in public housing page.

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Last updated: 16 Aug 2023