Building a granny flat in the Northern Districts: The pros and cons

Adding a granny flat to your backyard is a great way to create extra space for teenagers, elderly parents or visiting friends and family. But as useful as granny flats are, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind so that yours doesn’t turn into a burden.

Check granny flat building regulations

Although building regulations have loosened up in recent years, there are still many restrictions that you must abide by in order to build a granny flat on your property. Things like plumbing access, distance from boundary fencing, height of the roof and more will all play a role. Specific requirements vary from state to state and even council to council, so it is important to check with the appropriate authorities to make sure you comply with the rules in your area.

Having first been in touch with your local real estate agent who can advise you, depending on your property, as to whether or not a granny flat is a realistic project, the next step is to check directly with your local council for specific planning regulations. Alternatively, take a look at their website as most councils document requirements in great detail.

But even with careful research and planning, you may still be better off working with a professional builder who is familiar with the local state and council regulations and knows how to follow them to the letter.

Choose the right granny flat

“When it comes to granny flats, you have two primary options available to you: pre-fab and custom built”.

Pre-fab granny flats are an attractive option for many people because they require minimal planning and construction. They are also generally more affordable than custom varieties. However, custom granny flats let you create the ideal layout and size to meet your needs.

In choosing which style is best for you, you’ll need to evaluate your budget and priorities. If you are especially particular about the details, a custom build might make more sense, but if you are willing to be flexible, a pre-fab granny flat can save you a lot of time, hassle and money.

Financial impacts of a granny flat

“Granny flats tend to be less expensive than building an attic or adding an extension to your home”.

For example, an extension might cost between $200,000 and $300,000, while a granny flat would typically set you back about $150,000.

Of course, there are variations in both categories depending on the options you choose, and the layout of your land, but in general, a granny flat is the more affordable option. Construction of a granny flat will also be less of an imposition on your family as it should happen out of your way, mostly, rather than having to contend with workers, noise and dust within your house.

Another added benefit of having a granny flat is that you can lease it when you are not using it yourself. This can bring in a nice side income to help you weather the costs of building the flat in the first place. Over time, it can pay for itself and generate additional income if you do it right. This could affect your tax status, though, so make sure you factor that into your decision to rent as well.

Granny flat to the rescue

While seemingly straight forward and a popular trend these days, building a granny flat is actually an important decision. First things first, get in touch with your local real estate agent who can advise you on whether a granny flat is a viable option for your block to begin with.

If you then decide it is indeed the right option for you, take the time to research which type would be best suited to your needs, and have a chat with a local builder or granny flat specialist to make sure you are abiding council planning regulations. Building a granny flat is an exciting and valuable project, as long as it is undertaken properly, step by step.


Karen Page
Friendly, caring and attentive, Karen Page is a customer focused professional with a genuine passion for helping people transition through the different stages of their life.