These days people are going crazy over granny cabins or extra accommodation on their properties, partly due to the price. Not only is a granny retreat out the back a trendy ‘must-have’, there are now many specialist builders and designers cashing in on the high demand. The attraction is that most backyard homes only take 10 weeks to build, (some prefabricated designs take as little as a couple of weeks to assemble) depending on the weather and other variables. And they’re being used as mortgage busters, rented out to a lodger, teenage retreats, guest accommodation or neat little homes for retired parents or other relatives. You can buy transportable granny homes which are great for Victorians who you can’t have extra accommodation on the block unless it is for a relative. If the relative leaves, the granny home has to be removed.
The Pros and Cons of 9 Kinds of materials
There are also hundreds of ways of putting up a small home for granny, or a lodger pad in your backyard and many different kinds of materials to choose from, most have good and not so good attributes, depending on what you are looking for.
- Sandwich Panels
These panels shouldn’t be used for homes in bushfire prone areas because of the foam inner core which could be a fire risk. If the home catches fire it will be destroyed. But they are a lightweight, modern material which has great soundproofing and thermal qualities and little maintenance if you get it pre-painted. Sandwich panels can be a bother to run the plumbing and wiring through, and worse if it is done after construction. It doesn’t do well if damaged.
Vinyl, or Horizontal Cladding
This is a low priced way of cladding the little backyard home. It comes already painted and doesn’t need much maintenance, just a wash down once every five years with a mild detergent. It’s not thick, so won’t use up floor space and it’s flexible. But it’s not soundproof (insulation helps), and a severe whack with a small hard object will dent it.
Fibre Cement Sheet Cladding
This material looks modern and the price is cheaper than rendered concrete panels, but it isn’t as soundproof as other options, but here again, insulation can help. A well aimed cricket ball can certainly damage this material, especially if it hits between the home’s wall studs. It has to be rendered, painted every five years, or earlier and it can show cracks after about 10 years.
Weatherboard or Horizontal Timber Cladding
This classic building material looks more authentic than vinyl cladding and will give the granny home charm and character. It can also meet the heritage rules for small backyard homes in some areas. It never cracks even though it isn’t as flexible as vinyl but you will have to paint it every four to five years and the price is higher than vinyl cladding, also it isn’t as soundproof as brick but insulation can help.
Brick veneer granny homes look more modern than weatherboard or vinyl and need relatively no maintenance. It’s impervious to cricket balls, and just about anything else you can throw at it and if the main home is made of brick veneer it will match up. Great soundproofing. The only downside is the floor space lost since this is a thick material compared to those above and of course the price is higher.
This is a great material, needing no maintenance, can match the main home on the block, is indestructible (barring a wrecking ball) and has great insulating qualities. However, if there is a negative it is the loss of floor space compared to the cheaper alternatives and of course its price is much higher even than brick veneer. If the foundations are not stable it can, in time, show cracks.
- Concrete Hebel Blocks
These look more modern than the other cladding choices for your granny home, and they’re perfect for fire rated walls, with good insulation properties as well. But you lose a lot of floor space (about 5.8sqm). This is a lot when you consider every bit of space in the little home counts. They’re also priced a lot higher than vinyl and they need to be repainted every three to five years, washed down annually to prevent streaking, and they are likely to crack after a few years. Another problem is that without an internal wall cavity they’re prone to rising damp and it can be a nightmare for electricians and plumbers.
Concrete Hebel Panels
This cladding looks much more modern than other materials, they’re also number one when it comes to fire rated walls or building the home to the boundary of the property. Soundproofing insulation is great too, and they can be painted or rendered, but as with the blocks you lose some floor space, however, only 3sqm. They need to be sealed, rendered and painted. Like the blocks, they need to be repainted every three to five years. You also have to wash the home down every year to stop streaking and these also need good eaves to protect the walls from weathering and pollution. They can crack where they join vertically after some years.
Metal Cladding (ColorBond)
Metal cladding is a good price, costing less than all but vinyl, and it comes already painted it’s virtually maintenance-free. An added benefit is the wall thickness which is less than all the previous materials but it is nowhere near as soundproof as the other choices for your granny home and it can corrode if the protective coating is exposed by dings from anything sharp. Metal materials will expand and contract in hot and cold conditions, so at night they can be noisy.
Fox Transportables in Western Australia builds relocatable accommodation which means your granny home can be put up within three weeks, then disconnected, picked up and relocated within hours, so if you want to sell it when it’s no longer needed, you can. The granny homes are wheelchair friendly, and can be set up statewide in WA. Call us on: 08 6377 8335 or 0449 634 100.