You hear a lot about granny flats, garden sheds, and swimming pools adding value to your home, but how does this work in practical terms? In many parts of Australia, it’s illegal to have a tenant in your granny flat, so you can’t count rental income as a benefit of granny flats. You can, however, use it to house relatives, or to function as a home office.
According to real estate estimates, having a well-built granny flat can raise the value of your property by 20% to 30%. This is because home buyers have a long list of preferences, and additional space is high on that list. Many buyers begin by stating the number of bedrooms they want. They might then add desirable qualities for those bedrooms.
For example, if they have small kids, they may want those bedrooms to have adjoining doors, or to be on a single storey. If they have teens or elderly parents, they may want a detached bedroom for them. Parents who work from home might want a separate workspace that keeps them partially isolated from the distractions of home.
These reasons mean a buyer may be willing to pay a premium for a house that has a granny flat installation, especially if it’s well-maintained and professionally built. On a social level, granny flats can offer multiple benefits. At different stages of a homeowner’s life, the flat can offer varying perks.
When the kids are little, it can offer some privacy when you need couple time and have a good babysitter. It can also be a good place to host the in-laws when they come over for a visit. It affords them privacy and minimises the inevitable tension these visits can inspire. As kids grow into teenage, they can move into the granny flat, giving them space and you peace.
When your parents get older, they can live in the granny flat, both to help you with the kids and to let you keep an eye on them. It’s comforting – both to them and to you – to have them nearby. Of course, once you become the grandparent yourself, you have the option to get a granny flat at your kid’s house, or they could move back home, and you could be in the flat.
This is especially helpful when your spouse passes, and you’re uncomfortable having the big house all to yourself. You could cosy up the granny flat for yourself and let the kids and grandkids use the main house. You won’t have to beg them to visit since they’ll be next door.
Actually, that was the initial use of granny flats. In Jolly Old England, granny flats were once known as dowager flats. When an elderly lady’s husband passed away, she moved into the dowager flat, and younger relatives inherited and moved into the primary estate. This way, she was financially taken care of and didn’t get too lonely.
There are different kinds of granny flats. The most common kind is the detached self-contained unit. It’s sometimes referred to as a DPU (Dependent Person Unit). The easiest and fastest way to get one of these is to order a flat-pack made of pre-fabricated materials. These granny flats come pre-built, so all you have to do is unpack and assemble them.
Pre-fab granny flats can be installed in a day or two, and they last for decades. They have fully functional kitchenettes and bathrooms, and some even have verandas. Granny flat experts have become quite adept at maximising limited space, and granny flats can have up to two bedrooms. Another option is to convert an en-suite bedroom into a separate dwelling.
When dowager flats were first introduced to Australia, they were mostly separate living quarters built above the garage, and that’s still a viable option. While the flat above the garage would share a wall, electricity, and water with the main house, it can have a separate entrance. The entrance can be in the form of external stairs or a door through the garage.
This type of granny flat can access the home’s laundry facilities, or a section of the garage could be converted into a separate laundry area for the flat. The cultural and practical benefits of a granny flat are evident, but there’s a cash value as well. If you’re still unsure, talk to a realtor and ask for an estimate, both with and without a granny flat.