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Thinking About Building A Granny Flat?

By Laura Anderson

A granny flat can be used as a home office, an art studio, a playroom, a teenage retreat, a guest room or even a man cave. Not only that, it can still work as a stylish place for Nanna to live. If you have the land to build a granny flat but are not sure what you need to consider in the pre-planning stage, first check the current council regulations, then look at various options to future-proof this multifunctional addition to your home. We round up some of the most relevant points here.

Common ground
Consider the connection between the new build and your own home. The outdoor area is a common space, which makes it ideal for intergenerational family living, but if you wish to turn your granny flat into a rental property, there will be little privacy here.

Council regulations
When designing a granny flat (aka home office/play room/studio), be aware of your council’s planning policy. In NSW, for example, your local council or an accredited certifier can issue granny flat approvals – it’s all part of the State Environmental Planning Policy (Affordable Rental Housing) 2009. There are a number of criteria to satisfy and restrictions depending on the size and shape of your land, the area of your house, and how you plan to use the new structure. It’s essential that you take advice from your local council to ensure that all provisions are covered. If all is well, a granny flat can be approved as a complying development in just 10 days. Contact your local council and discuss all options.

Pre-fab pod
With an array of different modular prefabricated pods on the market – aka a square box! – it’s easy to get the right size at a decent price. Here, the pod by Melbourne-based Backyard Room uses sustainable materials with architectural pizzazz. It can work as a cosy studio, granny flat or an exclusive man cave.

Right layout

The way you use a granny flat can change throughout the years. The layout should have enough flexibility so the space can be used for kids or grandparents. When designing it, make sure it provides privacy and insulation while utilising long-lasting materials.

Add a verandah
When designing a granny flat, make sure it doesn’t feel closed in or claustrophobic. An easy solution is to add a patio or verandah. This works a treat when it comes to council regulations – while many councils have a 60-square-metre rule for the granny flat for a quick approval, this doesn’t include the dimensions of the verandah itself. Check with your council to find out all the regulation rules.

Avoid difficulties
Backyards come in all shapes and sizes, as with this property built on a sloping block. Designed by the Brisbane architecture firm Baahouse + Baastudio, the granny flat was designed so that the entrance (not seen) is on ground level. It means no steps were required – a must-have for a true granny flat.

Pool house? Not likely!
The owners of this property may see this as an idyllic pool house but teenagers have a different concept – they see it as a private hacienda. Not only that, they may never leave!

Age issues
To utilise every inch of a granny flat, a mezzanine level is a great space saver. It provides extra room and flexibility in the floor plan. However, a building with a cathedral-style ceiling may not be suitable if your parents are planning to move in down the track. A moveable ladder may be too risky for older residents, particularly if they have any physical ailments.

Shining example
It’s time to rethink old dowdy granny flats and embrace new 21st-century pods. Here, an Australian company, Harwyn, produces pods made of an aluminium composite material to create a reflective work of art. Insulation, electrical wiring and sockets, and cabinetry are all installed to provide a fast build. Search online to find other creative pod options.

Sleep solutions
Bedding needs to be considered when designing a granny flat. There are various options – a daybed, a sofa bed, chair sleepers (similar to a beanbag but with more structure) or a bed with a trundle. The most important thing is whether the beds will be used occasionally or regularly.

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