Dependent accommodation

Date: 22 October 2020

A growing number of people want to help an aging parent or relative stay as independent for as long as possible without compromising on their safety or care. A granny – or grandpa – flat can be the perfect solution because it provides everyone in the family with privacy and space but means a loved one isn’t too far away for when support is needed.

Dependent accommodation can be free standing or part of an existing home and uses the same services as the main home. Chris Short, from the Association of Building Consultants, shares his thoughts:

Nod of approval

It’s important to know that dependent accommodation is not an additional house built on the same block as an existing house for renting to others. That needs Development Approval for a second home and different requirements apply.

Different local Councils have different block size requirements and maximum floor area restrictions, as well as outdoor space and adequate carparking too. Speak to your local Council about what is needed in your area for a Development Application to be approved.

Grand designs

Speak to an architect about the design of your granny flat, so plans can be developed that identify the type of layout, sizing and measurements. A plan will need to be submitted to Council as part of the approval process. Talk to a licenced builder and set out a budget that you can stick to.

Family friendly

There are plenty of Councils that are happy to approve a granny flat to be built for an immediate family member to live in it, especially if it’s for elderly parents or relatives. Buying a home with an existing granny flat can also be a smart decision, because it can provide extra space for visiting friends or relatives and can easily become a toy room, man cave or an office for the self-employed.

Private parts

Building dependent accommodation must consider the privacy and overshadowing of adjoining properties, and windows or decks should not have direct view into the rear and side yards of neighbours. You’ll also need to think about access to the granny flat and whether side access from a gate might be an option to minimise disruption through your own home.

Budget blowout

A granny flat can cost as little as $20,000 to more than $200,000, so it’s important to have a detailed budget in place. Sticking to a simple design can avoid over-spending on unnecessary things. Speak to your Builder and perhaps to different trades about plumbing, electrical and carpentry needs to understand any site-specific impacts on your budget, and research any additional insurance costs that might be involved.