11th November 2016

Things to Consider When Planning a Granny Flat

There are a lot of things that can add value to your own home, and one of the least thought about is a Granny Flat.  Whether you rent it out, or it’s to add extra space for your growing or mature family is up to you.  However, how you design your granny flat is what determines how much value it really adds.

  1. What is the size of the area that you have available to build on?  You will have to make yourself aware of the local council regulations that restrict how big you can make the dwelling for it to be considered a ‘Granny Flat’ and not some other kind of dwelling.  For most councils, the external dimensions must be no greater than 60m2. Its important to confirm with your council what their latest requirements are pertaining to your property.
  2. There are also regulations on the height that you can build the Granny Flat.  Generally, the Granny Flat will be measured from the lowest point in the ground to its highest point.  The highest point needs to be no more than 3.8m.  Our designers can help you make the proper roof allowances to fit your council by-laws.
  3. Consider the Granny Flat’s final location.  If you are wanting it to be a teenager’s retreat, then having it face the main house can be a good choice, if you still want to know what’s going on with your children.  The same can be said if it’s being occupied by aging parents.  This way you can give your family some privacy while still being able to look after them.  If you are building the unit to rent as a private dwelling, then consider having the main entrance more private.
  4. It is important from an aesthetics’ perspective to build your Granny Flat to compliment your existing house.  Also, you will get better resale value if each of the dwellings complement each other and blend into your landscaping.  Even if you aren’t thinking about reselling your property, you’ll still get a better architectural finish if they have been built to work with each other and the layout of your grounds.
  5. Remember this is a living space, you want to make it as comfortable as possible rather than utilitarian and sparse, so don’t skimp in this regard. Its important to have the kitchen and bathroom as luxurious as your budget affords.  Even if it isn’t a full-size kitchen, accommodation can be made so that the kitchen feels like it has been given great thought, rather than just thrown in as an after thought.  Even if your Granny Flat is currently housing older children, remember that they will someday move out and the flat can be rented.  Better to have resale or alternative use in mind from right from the start of the design process, this will save you having to invest in more renovations later.
  6. If you have the space, consider designing the Granny Flat to have a little outdoor space dedicated for its occupants sole use and even screened off.  This will not only bring privacy, but will also encourage your potential renters reason to stay longer.  Also having a small porch or covered patio area will really bring a liveable and comfortable feel into your Granny Flat.
  7. Storage is really important in a small space.  As Granny Flats are small, people and their possessions can really crowd the space and make it feel tight and claustrophobic.  Make sure that you are designing your Granny Flat with extra storage in mind.  Think about including cabinetry that extends all the way to the ceiling in the kitchen along with lots of drawers.  Tall and narrow cabinets in the bathroom can have pull out baskets to make storage more accessible.  There are a variety of ways to add storage space without inviting clutter.

Devel Granny Flats are happy to have a no obligation discussion with you about any aspect of your planning for a granny flat on your property.

26th October 2016

The Five Common Uses for a Granny Flat

What used to be the space that we gave to our aging parents or teenagers, has now had a cultural shift and we are using them as multifunctional spaces.  There are others, but here are the most common uses for the Granny Flat:

  • The “Traditional Granny Flat” is a great space for an expanding and growing family.  Pared down and more simple units are often used as a teenager’s retreat.  These types of dwelling usually lack a full kitchen.  Simple spaces are great for the aging parent who may need more assistance in their day to day living.  If you have lots of family visiting at holiday times, this is also a great way to be accommodating and hospitable without having them invade your living space.
  • Granny Flats are also useful for those looking for extra income.  Although small, these units tend to be more complete stand-alone units, with more spacious living quarters and a full kitchen.  They may also have to adhere to more rigorous council regulations, so it’s best to check with us before you advance your planning if your plans can comply or a larger than average backyard is required to comply with local council by-laws.
  • She-Sheds and Man Caves are becoming common vocabulary.  These are indulgent little hideaways  and escapes designed for lord or lady of the household.  What is great about one of these versions of the Granny Flat is that they are completely unique to the person whom it is for.  A Man Cave might cater to the man who needs his own beer bridge, a large screen TV and a video game consol.  A She-Shed might be a tea drinkers delight, or maybe a lady just wants a wine in peace and a man might want to drink his beer alone.  Whatever the reason, just remember, when you build a She-Shed or a Man Cave for someone, the only way that you get to visit it again – may be with an invitation!
  • With more of the general population working at home or on flexible work arrangements, it’s no wonder why there are so many people opting to build a granny flat for home office purposes.  These backyard studio/offices are wonderful as they give you a quiet place to work.  They also encourage greater efficiency as they delineate a workspace.  When you cross the threshold, you know that you are there to work and there is less distraction.  Your clients and head office team will appreciate that you are working in a quiet space for virtual meetings and Skype type calls.  With a small bathroom and kitchen in this space, it makes for a very easy and enjoyable working day.
  • Granny Flats can be whatever you want!  Many people convert their smaller Granny Flats into workshops or gardening sheds as they provide a more comfortable and tailored place to work than a garage.  Some convert the large floor area into an area to practice Yoga or Meditation.  We’ve already mentioned it, but you don’t have to be a professional artist to benefit from a dedicated space to create or explore your craft.  Whatever your need, you can easily convert your Granny Flat into a bespoke project.

16th October 2016

The History and Evolution of Granny Flats in Australia

Back in the day, property was something that was handed down from generation to generation, and married couples did not leave to start their own households.  When it was time for the heir to inherit the family estate, the widow would move to smaller house on the family property.  This smaller house was called, “the dowager” house.  The dowager house was designed to allow the widow and her family to remain close, but not be in the way of the new owner, or lady of the house.

Off the grand estates, and into the city, the same would occur.  However, city dowager houses were often smaller, and sometimes attached to the main house.  These smaller units were often called “mother-in-law” apartments or annexes.  These have given way to the modern Australian “granny flat” and are now used from everything from older grandparents who need help and teenagers who need space, all the way to yoga studios and rental units.

In 2009, legislation changed in NSW to make it easier to get approval for building a Granny Flat in the backyard.  Most other states also changed their legislation at around the same time.  Since then, the demand has increased over 240%!  People are wanting these small spaces for their families, and are also paying good money to get a well designed one.

Granny Flats are now less about an extra space for extended family and more about creating multifunctional living spaces that evolves with the need of the owners of the main house.  Council regulations define that Granny Flats must be less than 60m2, but people are coming up with creative ways to pack all their needs into these little spaces.  These small spaces are being designed as well as grand homes all across Australia.

Since 2015, there has been a large part of the Australian population that has been investing heavily into their Granny Flats.  Architects across the nation have been answering that call, designing amazing small spaces that sometimes outshine the main home on the property.  With housing prices being out of reach for the average young Australian, some are simply using their money to invest in a well-designed Granny Flat on their parent’s existing property.  This allows for a minimal mortgage and the freedom of completely owning one’s home outright a lot faster.  By doing so, these people are also adding value onto their parent’s property as well.

The term “Granny Flats” has been in existence in Australia and New Zealand for a very long time. However, in recent years this term is being replaced with titles such as, “studio”, “retreat”, “pods” or even “caves”. Not only the name has evolved, so has the design of these units.  Professional architect and kit designers are making unique and functional units that can shift in use as the needs of the family change.  The history of the “Granny Flat” is evolving but continues to encourage the option of intergenerational living.