With the high cost of rentals in the capital cities and even in country areas of Australia, many homeowners are opting to let the grown-up student or even the working kids live in a secondary dwelling or the backyard flat that was built for when Granny retires. Kids are increasingly using these flats or mini homes to live in while they save for their own homes. And many homeowners are building outside flats not only to accommodate the grown kids or elderly parents but to rent for extra income, for guests, or just to say they have one at the bottom of the garden if you want to stay overnight.
It’s caused a shift in the makeup of the Australian family which was once based on the nuclear model of two kids who left home in the teenage years to rent a place of their own or to travel, go to university or start their new job. But the way the property market has evolved has now made this impossible for many, who then decide to stay with Mum and Dad where it’s much cheaper to live.
Also, now that the flat built for granny has come of age, the new generation models come in many styles, some architectonic, with many architects focusing solely on this area of the market. This has caused a shift in popularity of the unpresuming outside flat and architects are designing flats and mini-homesthat could and do, easily grace the backyard of the most upmarket residences. Some companies are focusing on transportable or portable homes for their convenience and to easier abide by some council laws. There are also many uses for prefabricated flats or secondary dwellings in the backyard.
If you are thinking of adding a flat in your backyard for Granny, to rent out or house the home deposit saving kids, here are some things you might need to know.
How are modern granny flats different to the older ones?
The rise to stardom of the flat in the backyard for Granny in Australia has been amazing. They are no longer seen as just a tacked-on afterthought to accommodate an elderly relative as they were in years gone by. The difference is that these mini-homes or flats are seen as highly stylised, comfortable accommodation designed to be adaptable, neat and affordable for families who need more lifestyle options for their different stages in life.
Many companies have moved into the business of solely building backyard secondary dwellings and they are flat out keeping up with demand, as property prices rise beyond the reach of many, especially first home buyers. Another aspect is that the new generation flats for Granny or mini-homes are being built with an eye on energy efficiency and comfort, with glazing, insulation, eco friendly heating and cooling.
What are the advantages of a flat in the backyard?
As extra income or an investment a secondary dwelling or flat can help balance the family budget. They are a way to capitalise on the value of the block of land. Some are built for young couples saving for their first home. A secondary dwelling can be a way for people retiring from the workforce to move into something smaller and more manageable, and to stay near the family in case they are in need of care in their later years. It also ensures someone is close by in an emergency. Another reason for building a small flat or secondary home on their block is for couples who are divorcing but don’t want the inconvenience of selling up the family residence. They also don’t want to lose money by dividing assets, and a flat gives them privacy so they can live apart but still be close to any children of the marriage.
Will a flat for Granny increase the value of my home?
Whether a secondary dwelling or flat increases the value of your home or not depends entirely on who inspects the property and what they are looking for in a new dwelling. Some potential buyers might see a mini house as positive while others might be looking for a large backyard and garden with no outbuildings other than a shed. If you decide on a flat, have it built because it’s what you want, and deal with potential buyers if you ever put the place on the market. A good real estate agent can sell a home with a secondary dwelling to those who are looking for one.
Am I allowed to just put a flat up by myself?
Not in a million years. Councils are aware of the risk of hazardous, substandard atrocities being squashed into small blocks of land and have some very strict conditions on construction. Be aware that the rules for building flats as secondary dwellings in backyards varies from council to council and state to state. However all development applications for granny flats, or ‘secondary dwellings’ as they are usually termed by councils, must follow the Australian Building Code. You should do some research in your state to find out what the particular rules are for your location.
What are the conditions when building a backyard flat?
NSW: The fastest and simplest way to apply for certification for your secondary home or flat for Granny in New South Wales is via the NSW Affordable Housing approval process. There are private certifiers who can check your plans for compliance and if it is deemed ok then approval should take about two weeks. In NSW approval for a backyard flat does not depend on how you will use it. Such flats can be built up to 60sqm in NSW, and that’s on a minimum 450sqm lot that is 12.5 metres wide. These applications can be subject to setbacks and height restrictions, in some areas two storeys are permitted. Be mindful that a patio, verandah or deck is not included in the above requirement.
Victoria: In this state, it is a different story with regard to rental. In Victoria, you cannot rent your extra flat out to anyone except a dependent relative, although some councils have different rules which makes it complicated. When the dependent relative moves out for any reason, the flat has to be removed. Many homeowners opt for a transportable home that can be sold off or moved in the case of a relative moving out.
Queensland: Brisbane Council limits the size of a backyard flat to 80sqm. It must be less than 20 metres from the main dwelling on a block larger than 600sqm and can be rented by dependant relatives only. The Gold Coast City Council rules state for example, that the secondary dwelling must be less than half the size of the main house and it must share sewerage, water supply and a driveway. In the Toowoomba Council area, your outside flat can be rented, but you will be charged an infrastructure fee of $20,000 or more.