Granny flats are a great way to house elderly relatives and adult children. If your not-so-little ones aren’t ready to leave the nest, or if hard times have brought them back home, granny flats can fix everything. The economy has hit pretty hard, so a lot of adult children have to move back in with their parents. This is both financially and psychologically taxing.
In such situations, housing your kids in a granny flat lets them save on rent while still giving them some autonomy and agency. Similarly, elderly parents can use the flat so you can keep them close, especially if their health is failing.
They can stay there temporarily until they’re ready and willing to move to a nursing home. Some families prefer granny flats to nursing homes, so it can also become their permanent residence. It keeps them nearby, and can even ease childcare costs if they babysit the grandkids. This adds their quality of life because they feel valued and useful.
Having elderly grandparents nearby is great for the socialisation of small kids. They get a sense of family and can enjoy being pampered and spoiled. It eases the burden on their parents, and partially fills the gap between busy parents trying to keep everyone housed and fed. Teenage kids can be housed in a granny flat too, giving them a little space from their parents.
1. Follow the sun
A granny flat can be detached or semi-detached. It has its own kitchen and bathroom and can be a single room unit or a larger space with two bedrooms. The maximum legal floor space is 80m2, so design and layout are fundamental. Position matters too. You could lay it out in an East-West orientation for maximal natural light.
This way, residents can enjoy the sunrise and sunset, absorbing a lot of solar heat which can warm up the house and reduce the cost of air conditioning. On the other hand, this orientation might make the house too sunny, and may be uncomfortable for older residents. In such cases, you might choose a North-South position, or build it under a shade.
2. Check boundary regulations
The specifications and legal requirements for granny flats are pretty detailed. They have to be at least 3 metres from the back edge of your property, and 0.9 metres from both sides. This narrows down the choice of where to place your flat. It can be in the front yard or the backyard, and building it in the back offers more privacy.
There are also rules concerning vegetation. If you have tall trees in your yard or the neighbouring areas, your granny flat needs to be adequately far from them. Trees that are 4 metres or taller have to be 3 metres away from the flat, so you’d have to take measurements and select a space that’s far enough away.
3. Consider the noise factor
The position of the house will also depend on who will live inside it. Elderly parents need peace and quiet, so they may need to be far enough away that they are partially sound-proofed. Adult kids and teenagers need sound-proofing too, but for different reasons.
For the sake of everyone in the main house, angsty teens should be far enough that their loud music doesn’t deafen their parents. As for adult kids, especially if they are married, they would prefer to have the space to keep their household sounds private. If they have young children, it will also protect their parents from colic and tantrums.
4. Avoid local infrastructure
Granny flats use the same sewage system and water supply as the main house. They also share power lines, internet access, and laundry facilities. As you choose the position of the house, be careful not to interfere with any of these. Make sure it doesn’t sit on top of an electric cable or sewerage tank since that could affect the whole neighbourhood’s supply.
If you’re near the main road, you might want to put the flat further away so that the noise doesn’t bother residents. On the other hand, if there’s a beautiful natural landscape nearby, you can place the house in a position that offers a good view. For older parents, place the flat close to the house, so that they don’t have to walk too far or risk injury.