Getting the most out of your Granny Flat investment
- Be sure to work with your block! This is a very common mistake people tend to miss when thinking of adding a secondary dwelling to their property. Rather than hunting around for a design you like first, take the time to properly evaluate your block…important factors like shape, slope, setbacks, sewer lines, access feasibility are a good starting point. It’s far better to work with what you have and design with the area and constraints in mind to achieve a much more positive outcome. If you are not confident with checking out these things yourself speak to a Granny Flat or building specialist who should be able to guide you through the steps and recommend a good design, shape and style that is going to tick both your own taste and suit the block.
- A Complying Development isn’t your only option. Sticking to your own council requirements when choosing or designing your Granny Flat is a good option if you have the flexibility to do so, but if you know your investment is not going to bring in the same return through sticking exactly to these then going down the Development Approval or Planning Permit is a good decision. DA’s typically add at least a couple of months extra time onto your overall project, but normally you are able to get what you want or closer to your goal with some small caveats. It’s easy to be talked into the most simple slab plan that ticks boxes and can be thrown on the block quickly, but just ensure it’s the best long term option for your return before doing so.
- Go for maximum rooms. A lot of the cost of the Granny Flat is absorbed quickly into things like electrical, plumbing, council fees, services connections etc.and this is generally why cost per Sqm tends to be typically higher than a larger house. Even if you are looking to rent it right away to one family member only and are not considering an extra room at all, just remember adding a room is not going to add too much to overall total build price. If you then change your mind down the track and want to rent out that spare room you could very well get the return back on the extra room pretty fast. Some areas such as Gold Coast, Canberra and Brisbane allow up to 90sqm which can easily get 3 bedrooms. Spare rooms never go a miss and if not used as a bedroom can easily be converted to a study or sitting room.
- Keep finishing’s low maintenance and durable. Make sure you take the time to go through your finishing’s with your preferred builder to discuss the areas where you want to keep it basic and the areas where it’s a worth the little extra cash for the long run. This is sometimes not thought through very well so if you do have an option to do so go for hard wearing materials and things that are not going to need to be replaced within a short time frame if you are thinking long term investment. Natural materials are a good option, things like wood and stone often get better with age but be careful with certain cheap timbers epically in warmer climates as they will warp and fade far quicker than hardwood. With doors and window frame its best to stick to aluminium rather than timber for this same reason.
- Think through Parking solutions for the Granny Flat and keeping both parties on the block happy. If you are going to be renting out your Granny Flat, then it is important to consider parking. There is no requirement for off street parking in most councils, but think ahead about who will be living there and where they will park. If the block allows it, you may want to consider a carport or single garage as part of the Granny Flat Design.
- Consider the bathrooms and kitchen with the tenants in mind. Although most Granny Flats only have enough room for a single bathroom, if you are trying to go larger, then consider the option of having at least a second toilet or small bathroom. Especially if the Granny Flat will be rented to two individuals, it make the building a lot more appealing to potential tenants having their own private toilet or bathroom.
- Think about your area and your target market. The obvious thing to do is consider the demographics and potential demand for the building. Things like access to public transport, parks, walkways etc. will all play a part in what sort of people will want to live in your Granny Flat, and consequently – how much rental return you will make on the build.
- Energy efficiency. Both the materials and the design will effect the overall energy efficiency of the home. Everything from external cladding to window frame should be considered when designing as you want to not only keep the tenants electricity bills down but keeping the house cool in summer and warm in winter is going to keep them happy and staying put for longer. Some good examples of popular products that are useful are double glazed windows with a thermal break in the frames, aircell insulation, thicker cladding such as Scyon Linea board, but speak to your granny flat builder about all material options and work out what is best for you.