This property renovation feature can provide you with extra income, help you stay more focused when you WFH and give your overnight guests a far more special stay. Understandably, Australian current and potential homeowners are going nuts for it.
Granny flats are truly experiencing a moment. They were among Domain’s top 10 most searched terms in July 2023. And this season of Channel Nine’s The Block dedicated an entire episode to them. But while it might seem like the rise in popularity of granny flats happened overnight, in fact, they started becoming more in-demand during the pandemic.
“The idea of ‘location, location, location’ went out the window and all anybody wanted was space,” says Domain Property Editor and The Block Property Expert, Alice Stolz. “Out of the blue, in 2020, the words ‘granny flat’ became de rigeur and increased 287%. The intensity of the trend has tapered off, but it definitely has not gone away. It’s most popular in New South Wales, Queensland and Western Australia.”
Today, people are searching for properties to buy and rent with granny flats, as well as adding granny flats, self-contained studios or pods (smaller rooms without kitchenettes) to their existing homes.
“Granny flats are a relatively affordable ways to add space to your property without the enormity of a full-scale renovation,” says Stolz. “Part of their appeal is that they’re not part of the main house. People like that sense of disconnection, particularly if they’re working from home. There’s something rather clever and ingenious about just how much you can pack into 10-plus square metres.”
Aside from a home office, granny flats can also be used as guest quarters, a teen retreat, space for an au pair, a yoga studio, a gym, a man cave, a she-shed, rumpus room or bolthole for anyone from the ‘main house’ who needs a break. In some Australian states, granny flats can also be rented out and used to general extra income.
For those looking to add self-contained granny flats to their property, Stolz suggests you start by checking the regulations in your area, as each state and territory in Australia has different laws governing secondary dwellings.
“There are rules on block size and the distance you’ll need to leave between boundaries, trees and your existing house,” says Stolz. “People need to check with their local council to understand approvals required.”
The cheapest way to add in a granny flat is with a flat-pack DIY or pre-fabricated option. In Australia, they can start at around $40,000. Though, if you’re after the Rolls Royce of self-contained studios, built on-site and with a custom design, you’d be look at $200,000-plus.
“It all comes down to size, and the bells and whistles you’re after,” says Stolz.