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Sleepout FAQs

Garages with Sleepouts

Shed vs Sleepout vs House

Distinguishing between a shed, sleepout and house involves several factors. 

The building code defines several different building types, each having different code requirements. These different requirements are in response to the risk to human life and usage of each building type. There are 5 building types, IL1 to IL5.

IL1 (Importance level 1) buildings are classed as having the lowest risk to human life, as people enter them infrequently. For example, a small number of people are affected if a garage is blown over in an extreme weather event. Examples of IL1 buildings are garages, farm implement sheds and storage sheds. These pose a low risk to human life as people enter them infrequently.

Examples of IL2 buildings are business premises, sleepouts and houses. People spend more time in these types of buildings and the impact of a building failure is greater. Therefore, an IL2 building will be structurally stronger by having deeper concrete foundations, with stronger reinforcing steel and be more robust in the design and materials used during construction. This reduces the risk to people and of building failure, but also increases the cost. IL2 Habitable buildings (sleepouts and houses) also have greater requirements in terms of insulation, weather tightness, building inspections and documentation required by council. The building code requirements for a sleepout are essentially the same as a house as people sleep in both.

If a building includes a storage area as well as a habitable living area, eg a workshop/garage with sleepout attached, the entire building needs to be constructed to the IL2 habitable standard. The reasoning being, if the workshop fails during an event such as an earthquake, it is undesirable for the workshop to collapse on the habitable (sleeping) area. Therefore, both have to comply with the higher IL2 standard.

IL3, IL4 and IL5 buildings have even more stringent requirements due to an increased risk to human life or the importance of the building to survive a catastrophic event. Examples of these buildings are hospitals, fire stations, power stations, water and sewage treatment plants.



  • When does a storage shed become a sleepout?
    A toilet, shower and basin can be included in an IL1 shed. But as soon as the shed, or a portion of the shed, has cooking or sleeping facilities it is deemed an IL2 habitable structure and must comply with the IL2 Habitable requirements.
  • Is a “shed house" going to be cheaper than a ‘regular” house to build?
    No, a “shed house" needs to comply with the same building code requirements as a “regular” house. The cost for both will be similar, the main difference will be the look of the house.
  • Can I build an IL1 shed and live in it until my house is built?
    No, the council will require the shed is built to the same IL2 standard as a house. Even if the shed is only temporarily used as accommodation.
  • Can I convert my IL1 shed into a sleepout or house without informing council?
    No, this would be illegal and if council finds out you may be fined and made to demolish the structure. The structure will also be missing a final code of compliance, so when you come to sell the property, you will have issues trying to sell the shed as a compliant structure.
  • Can Totalspan provide a kitset IL2 habitable building?
    This is possible, but an LBP (Licensed Building Practitioner) needs to build it and sign off that it complies with the building code. Note - this service is not available from all Totalspan franchisees. Please check with your local franchisee.
  • Can Totalspan build an IL2 habitable shell and I complete the fit-out?
    Yes, this is possible, but again an LBP will be required to sign off the fit-out work and this service is not available from all Totalspan franchisees. Please check with your local franchisee.
  • Can Totalspan build a complete sleepout or house for me?
    Yes, however this service is not available from all Totalspan franchisees. Please check with your local franchisee.


Totalspan’s core business is the construction of IL1 steel buildings, from kitset, to a full turn-key construction service. Some Totalspan outlets are able to supply IL2, IL2 habitable, IL3 and IL4 buildings as well. However, this depends on the available resources at your local Totalspan outlet. Please contact your local Totalspan outlet and they will be happy to discuss your project and advise if they can provide a solution that meets your needs.

Ready to talk to an expert and get a quote?

Talk to our Shed Specialists and they will guide you through the process and help design a steel building that meets your needs. Request a quote online or give our guys a call.