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How to Design & Build a Cost-Effective Granny Flat

by Dec 3, 2020

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How to Design & Build a Cost-Effective Granny Flat
With the introduction of the government’s Capital Gains Exemption on granny flats, which will be effective from July 2021, building a granny flat has become a more realistic option for many people. As such, many people are now asking an important question: how do you design and build a granny flat that is cost-effective without compromising on design or build quality?

At the beginning of every project, we recommend to our clients that they ask themselves these important questions to see where their design priorities lie:

  • Are you building a granny flat for personal or investment use?
  • Does your property meet Council requirements for building a granny flat?
  • If you are building for investment purposes, what kind of tenant do you wish to attract?
  • Will your granny flat need to be designed for the elderly or those with disabilities?
  • What features are a must-have for your design wish list?
  • What is your expected budget?

The answers to these questions will help you design a granny flat that meets your needs and also stays within your budget.

Granny Flats: Personal vs. Investment


Granny Flats: Personal vs. Investment

The choices you make when designing your granny flat can be vastly different when building for personal use versus investment use.

If you are building for personal use, be it for yourself or for family members, you will be more invested in how the property looks and want to add your personal touch to the property. Here you can choose to use bolder colours or be more eclectic in your finishes – after all, you are the one living here! When it comes to investment properties, most investors choose a neutral colour palette and make moderate design choices, so the property appeals to a broader tenancy market.

You may also choose to use finishes and materials of higher quality in a granny flat that is for personal use, which you will need to factor into your budget. When designing your granny flat, keep those must-have items from your design wish list in mind – you can choose to spend a little bit more on a luxury item, whilst perhaps choosing more budget-friendly items for the remainder of the home.


Granny Flats: Personal vs. Investment

The finishes and materials of investment properties should be selected to ensure they are able to stand up to the wear and tear of tenants, are long lasting and will attract the kind of tenant you want. Timber laminate, vinyl or tile floors are great for easy cleaning and will give you a longer life span before needing to be updated or replaced when compared to carpet. 

Stone benchtops in the kitchen will stand up to most standard usage, as well as adding a touch of luxury to the home. Privacy screening and separation fencing should be considered for investment properties; not only will this afford more privacy to tenants, but they can also be turned into a design feature and add appeal to the exterior design. Fencing the granny flat from the main dwelling will also make the granny flat pet-friendly, attracting a larger array of potential tenants.


Council Requirements for Building a Granny Flat


Council Requirements for Building a Granny Flat

The most important factor when designing your granny flat is checking the council requirements for your area to see if your property meets the requirements for building a granny flat.

In most cases, your property must have a minimum size of 450m2 and have residential zoning. There is a limit of one granny flat per eligible block, and the maximum size of the granny flat is 60m2.  Check out our blog post for a full guide on council requirements on granny flats in NSW.

When you engage a qualified construction company such as Acrow Investments, your builder will be able to assist you in checking if your property is eligible and having your granny flat approved for construction through CDC or DA approval.

Finding a trustworthy and reliable builder to assist in the design of your property is the most crucial aspect of any construction project. Your designer and builder will bring your project to life, so it is important that they can clearly communicate with you and understand your requirements. Take your time in selecting your builder and make sure you check over the inclusions in your project carefully.

Investment Properties and Tenants


Investment Properties and Tenants

If you are building your granny flat for investment purposes, you should consider the type of tenant you wish to attract and consider this in your design. 

If you only want a single tenant in the property, then consider designing a large one-bedroom granny flat with a bigger living area. Similarly, if you wish to attract multiple tenants, a two-bedroom design is the way to go. 

How will your tenants access the property? Many people think that when they build a granny flat that they must have vehicle access; however, this is not a council requirement! Whilst vehicle access is not required, consider installing a separate entrance from the main dwelling such as a separate gate or pathway; this not only provides privacy, but also reduces access issues between the two homes. 

Will your granny flat have a carport or garage? A garage or carport can be a fantastic selling point, especially in areas where on street parking options are limited. It can also provide further undercover storage options. If your block allows access for a vehicle, a carport or garage is definitely a smart investment and design choice to add to your granny flat.


Investment Properties and Tenants

If your property is suitable for pets, consider installing fencing and other design items to ensure the yard is secure and pet friendly. If your granny flat is being built on piers, adding slatting to cover the front of the piers is not only visually appealing but will stop any pets from getting under the house. 

What is your selling point to attract a higher rental return? The decisions you make in your design process can assist in giving your property a greater rental market appeal and so increase the rental return you receive. For instance, including air conditioning in your design is a fantastic way to appeal to potential tenants if the location is known for extreme weather temperatures. Built in wardrobes and storage are also features which will assist in drawing a higher rental value and are a minimal cost to include in your construction budget.

Designing for the Elderly and Disabled


Designing for the Elderly and Disabled

The introduction of the Capital Gains Tax Exemption for elderly and disabled relatives will allow many families to build a granny flat for their family members without the financial implications this would have previously caused.

Inclusions such as access ramps, wider doorways, and disability-friendly appliances should all be considered when designing your granny flat. Many people think that they can save money by building their granny flat and then retrofitting these items after construction is completed. In many cases, this can cause you more problems and cost more money than installing these items at the beginning of the project. By including these items in your design, you will ensure they are installed correctly, they fit the space they are intended for, and they meet safety standards.

When selecting your builder, ask about the different accessibility items they can provide and how they can adapt the design to meet your needs.


Design Wish List and Your Budget


Design Wish List and Your Budget

Designing your new granny flat is an exciting process that is easy to get carried away with. At the outset of your project you should compile a list of items that are a must have, and a list of items you would like to include but are not an absolute necessity. 

By really focusing on what you want in your design, you will ensure you stay on budget and know where your priorities lie. For example, you may want a large entertaining area included in your design if you have friends and family visit often. When discussing your construction quote, ensure your builder includes these items in the pricing so you know what your costs will be up front. Including your must have items at the outset of your project will ensure a smooth design process and help you avoid disappointment later on if you find you have added too many higher priced inclusions that you cannot afford and hadn’t included in your budget.


Design Wish List and Your Budget

Whilst most builders should provide you with a fixed price quote, there can be circumstances outside of yours or the builder’s control which arise during construction and mean additional costs will be incurred. When planning your budget, you should always have an allowance for any unforeseen costs so you are not caught out of pocket should this happen. This not only ensures that you are not over budget but that your project can continue without any major delays due to finance.

So, what next?


So, what next?

Now that you’ve worked out exactly what you want from your design, the next step is to get your project underway.

Acrow Investments design and construct granny flats in the Central Coast, Lake Macquarie, Newcastle, and Hunter Valley regions. We work with our clients through every step of the design, approval, and construction process to ensure your completed project meets your needs and budget.

Acrow are proudly local, specialising in the construction of granny flats, duplexes and dual occupancies. For a free site inspection and obligation-free quote, contact us today and talk to one of our experts about achieving your property goals.

A stylish duplex with income potential in Long Jetty

A stylish duplex with income potential in Long Jetty

Contact Acrow Investments and arrange your first meeting. Together we can turn your property dreams into reality. This project is a lakeside duplex in Long Jetty, NSW. Our brief was to maximise the investment...

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