Granny flats – also known as dual living residences – afford you the opportunity to enhance your life by keeping the people you care about closer to you, or by allowing you to rent out space to increase your income. Either way, the addition of a granny flat is a big decision, and one that requires thorough consideration.
Here’s what you need to think about before you remodel your existing home to include a granny flat.
1) The Who
Who are you building this extra space for? An older child? Elderly relatives? A nanny? Renters? Guests? Granny flats aren’t hotel rooms: they are independent homes, with full kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms and living spaces, and how you design your home to accommodate this second residence will largely depend on who you intend to live there. If it is an older child, you would probably want to give them as much privacy as possible. However, if it was a grandparent or elderly parent, then you’d probably want to make the transition between spaces more fluid, to encourage interaction.
2) The Why
If you are looking to create this space as a place for renters, then you are going to approach it differently than if it was intended for family. For example, family may be willing to share a garage with you, but renters will most likely want their own garage, so you’ll have to consider that when remodelling. Also, if you intend on renting, you will need to consider your obligations as a landlord and make sure you’re adhering to applicable legislation. Regardless, separate entrances are ideal for family members, and absolutely necessary for renters.
3) The How
Consider the practicalities. Again, this is going to mean you have to contact local governing offices to suss out building codes and required permits. If you are remodelling to make an addition for family, the requirements, codes and permits will often be different than if you are remodelling to create a space for renters.
Along a similar vein, you have to decide how you are actually going to accomplish the construction. Unless you are a contractor by trade, it’s usually best to contact a professional granny flat builder to take the hassle out of the project.
4) The Where
Do you actually know where your property line begins and ends? Many people don’t, and if you want to add a secondary dwelling – attached or not – you need to make sure this is clear to avoid fines – and angry neighbours. Check out zoning requirements as well. You can usually get this information by contacting your local municipal office.
5) The When
As with many things in life, timing is everything and this project is a hefty expense. Make sure you have constant cash-flow for the foreseeable future to see you through the entire process, from planning to obtaining permits to development to finishing touches. It’s important not to make sure things are done right the first time, so – for example – even if you fancy yourself a whiz with the old toilet snake, never underestimate the importance of hiring a professional plumber.