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What is a granny flat

What is a Granny Flat – Everything You Need to Know About Them

Granny flats are the fastest growing trend in the world of construction and housing. With rental prices rising, available houses being snapped up quickly and families and populations growing, residents are turning to granny flats as a way to solve these problems. But what is a granny flat, and how does it differ from other forms of housing? In our ultimate guide, we’re going to answer all the big questions people have when it comes to granny flats.

What is a Granny Flat?

Granny Flats vs. Other Small Living Spaces: Choosing the Right Fit


Granny flats offer a unique blend of space and functionality, making them a popular choice for homeowners seeking extra living space or additional income. However, other small dwelling options exist, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of granny flats compared to other common small living spaces:


1. Granny Flats vs. Studio Apartments:


  • Granny Flats: Often offer more space, typically with a separate bedroom, kitchen, and bathroom, leading to a more comfortable living experience.
  • Studio Apartments: Generally smaller, with a single room serving as a living space, bedroom, and kitchen, offering less privacy and space.
  • Key Difference: Granny flats provide greater separation and functionality, while studio apartments focus on maximizing space within a single room.


2. Granny Flats vs. Tiny Houses:


  • Granny Flats: Legally permitted in most areas, offering access to utilities and amenities like water, sewage, and electricity.
  • Tiny Houses: Often require special permits, potentially needing to be moved to a different location for permanent residency. Limited access to utilities may be needed.
  • Key Difference: Granny flats offer greater integration with existing infrastructure, while tiny houses provide a more mobile and potentially more affordable option, albeit with some restrictions.


3. Granny Flats vs. Backyard Sheds:


  • Granny Flats: Designed for comfortable living, complete with proper insulation, heating, cooling, and plumbing.
  • Backyard Sheds: Primarily used for storage, often lacking proper insulation, heating, and plumbing, making them unsuitable for permanent living.
  • Key Difference: Granny flats are built for comfortable living, while backyard sheds are designed for storage and may not meet basic living requirements.


4. Granny Flats vs. Guest Suites:


  • Granny Flats: Often offer a full kitchen, bathroom, and separate living space, suitable for long-term occupancy.
  • Guest Suites: Typically smaller, often with a kitchenette and shared bathroom, designed for shorter stays.
  • Key Difference: Granny flats are better suited for long-term living, while guest suites provide a more temporary accommodation option.


Choosing the Best Option:


The best option for you depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider:


  • Budget: Granny flats are generally more expensive to build than other options.
  • Space requirements: Granny flats offer more space and privacy compared to studio apartments or guest suites.
  • Legal requirements: Check local regulations for restrictions on building permits and potential zoning issues.
  • Lifestyle: If you need a permanent living space, a granny flat might be the best option. For a more mobile lifestyle, a tiny house could be more suitable.


By carefully evaluating these factors, you can choose the small living space that best meets your needs and aspirations.

Granny Flats and Secondary Dwellings: Understanding the Terms

While the terms “granny flat” and “secondary dwelling” are often used interchangeably, there’s a slight distinction to keep in mind. Although a granny flat is indeed a type of secondary dwelling, not all secondary dwellings are necessarily granny flats. Let’s break down the key points:

1. Secondary Dwelling: The Broader Category

  • Definition: A secondary dwelling is a self-contained living unit on the same property as the main house.
  • Features: It typically includes essential living amenities like a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom.
  • Purpose: Can be used for various purposes:
    • Family members: Housing aging parents, adult children, or teenagers.
    • Rental income: Generating income by renting it out to tenants.
    • Guest accommodation: Providing a comfortable space for visiting friends and family.

2. Granny Flat: A Common Type of Secondary Dwelling

  • Definition: A granny flat is a specific type of secondary dwelling, often designed for smaller living spaces (usually under 60 square meters).
  • Features: Often includes a kitchen, bathroom, and one or two bedrooms.
  • Purpose: Typically used for housing elderly relatives, but can also serve the same purposes as other secondary dwellings.

3. Key Differences:

  • Size: Granny flats are generally smaller than other secondary dwellings.
  • Zoning: Zoning regulations and council requirements apply to both granny flats and secondary dwellings.
  • Terminology: “Granny flat” is a more common and widely understood term, while “secondary dwelling” is a broader category that encompasses different types of self-contained units.

4. Benefits of Both Granny Flats and Secondary Dwellings:

  • Additional Living Space: Provides extra room for family members, guests, or tenants.
  • Rental Income: Can generate income for homeowners by renting out the space.
  • Increased Property Value: Can potentially increase the value of the property.
  • Flexibility: Can be adapted to various needs and purposes.

5. Considerations Before Building:

  • Zoning Regulations: Check with your local council for specific regulations and requirements for secondary dwellings.
  • Building Permits: Obtain necessary permits before starting construction.
  • Design and Construction: Choose a reputable builder for proper design and construction.
  • Accessibility: Ensure the dwelling is accessible for all potential occupants.

Understanding the distinction between granny flats and secondary dwellings is important, particularly when navigating local regulations and planning your property development.

Tiny Houses vs. Granny Flats: Weighing the Pros and Cons

Both tiny houses and granny flats offer unique solutions for those seeking alternative living spaces. However, their distinct characteristics make them suitable for different needs and priorities. Let’s delve into their key differences and advantages:

Granny Flats:


  • Permanent Structure: Granny flats are built on your property and become a permanent part of it, adding value to your land.
  • Spacious: Typically larger than tiny houses, offering more interior space and room for multiple bedrooms and living areas.
  • Customizable: Can be designed and built to meet your specific needs, budget, and style, including accessibility features or sustainable materials.
  • Legal Residency: Often considered legal living spaces with access to utilities like water, sewer, and electricity.
  • Rental Potential: Can be rented out for additional income, contributing to long-term financial benefits.


  • Limited Mobility: Built on your land, they cannot be moved like a tiny house.
  • Construction Costs: Can be more expensive to build than a tiny house, especially if you opt for custom designs.
  • Zoning Regulations: Requires council approval and may be subject to specific zoning restrictions.

Tiny Houses:


  • Mobility: Built on wheels, they can be moved like a caravan, offering flexibility for changing locations.
  • Affordable: Generally less expensive to build than a granny flat, especially with pre-fabricated kits.
  • Sustainable: Often built using eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient features.
  • Minimalist Lifestyle: Encourages a simple and sustainable way of living.


  • Limited Space: Typically much smaller than a granny flat, requiring a more minimalist approach to living.
  • Temporary Residency: Often subject to restrictions on where they can be permanently located.
  • Utility Access: May require alternative solutions for water, sewer, and electricity depending on location.
  • Re-sale Value: May not have the same re-sale value as a permanent structure like a granny flat.

Choosing the Right Option:

The best choice depends on your individual needs and lifestyle:

  • For permanent living and property value: A granny flat is a better option.
  • For mobility and a minimalist lifestyle: A tiny house offers greater flexibility.
  • For a sustainable living experience: Both options can be built with eco-friendly materials and features.

Before making a decision, consider:

  • Budget: Compare construction costs and ongoing expenses.
  • Lifestyle: Think about your priorities concerning space, mobility, and living standards.
  • Zoning Regulations: Check local regulations for both granny flats and tiny houses.

By carefully weighing the pros and cons, you can decide which option best aligns with your vision for a comfortable and fulfilling living space.

The defining difference between an outdoor studio and a granny flat is a studio cannot have a kitchen area and cannot be rented out to tenants. Outdoor studios, or lifestyle pods, are commonly used for hobbies, entertainment areas, creative spaces, guest rooms, recording studios and home offices.

Granny Flat

  • A permanent addition to your home that could increase your property value, especially if it is custom-built to match the aesthetic of your home.
  • Many granny flats are rented out to tenants, helping you to earn a steady extra income.
  • A cost-effective means of adding an extra living area to your home.

Outdoor Studio

  • Great for extra space for hobbies, entertainment area, interests, gym, or even a place for guests to stay a few nights.
  • An excellent option for a home office, providing a space at home to dedicate to your work while allowing you to be close to home.


What are the Benefits of Building a Granny Flat On Your Property?

You may be considering a granny flat for your next renovation, extension, or build, and we’re  here to help. The benefits of clever design, an extensive range, and skilled workmanship can result in:

  1. Added income from long-term rental.
  2. The option to open the granny flat as an Airbnb or short-stay holiday home for greater income.
  3. Lower build costs than a traditional single-family home.
  4. Less council and land costs with little to no impact on rates.
  5. Fast construction time, around 16 weeks from start to finish.
  6. Unique, customised, and a high-quality design.
  7. Safety and security.
  8. Value-added to the main property for future re-sale.

Important Aspects to Consider When Building a Granny Flat in Your Backyard

Planning for Practicality: Essential Considerations for Granny Flat Design


Building a granny flat can be a rewarding investment, but careful planning is crucial to ensure its practicality and long-term success. Here’s a deeper look into crucial factors that go beyond aesthetics:


1. Accessibility and Entry:


  • Independent Access: Design a separate entrance for the granny flat, ideally with a dedicated pathway or walkway. Avoid having tenants or guests needing to walk through your main house to reach their dwelling.
  • Accessibility Features: Consider accessibility features like ramps, wider doorways, and grab bars, especially if you anticipate needing to accommodate individuals with disabilities.
  • Clear Path: Ensure a clear and safe path to prevent tripping or obstacles on the way to the granny flat.


2. Parking and Storage:


  • On-site Parking: Allocate designated parking spots for the granny flat tenants or guests. Ensure enough space for comfortable and safe parking.
  • Side Access: If possible, consider side access for parking to avoid congestion and improve privacy.
  • Storage Solutions: Provide adequate storage options within the granny flat for tenants, such as a separate shed or built-in storage areas.


3. Privacy and Boundaries:


  • Window Placement: Strategically position windows to ensure privacy for both the main house and the granny flat. Consider facing windows away from each other.
  • Door Placement: Design entranceways that don’t directly face each other, creating a sense of separation and privacy.
  • Fencing or Landscaping: Use fences, hedges, or strategically planted trees to create physical and visual boundaries between the two dwellings.


4. Landscaping and Maintenance:


  • Backyard Space: Plan for a comfortable backyard area for the granny flat tenants, even if it’s a smaller designated space.
  • Low-Maintenance Solutions: Consider low-maintenance landscaping options like artificial turf, drought-tolerant plants, or gravel areas.
  • Easy Cleaning: Choose landscaping elements that are easy to clean and maintain, minimizing future headaches.
  • Tree Removal: If necessary, remove potentially problematic trees that might create shade, drop debris, or require constant maintenance.


5. Long-Term Success:


  • Future-Proofing: Design with future needs in mind, considering potential changes in residents or usage patterns.
  • Sustainability: Choose eco-friendly materials and energy-efficient features for long-term cost savings and environmental responsibility.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Maintain open communication with your tenants or future occupants about their needs and preferences.


By thoughtfully addressing these practical factors, you can create a successful granny flat that provides both comfortable living space and a positive experience for everyone involved.
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