The difficulty in finding appropriate accessible housing is an ongoing issue for many ageing Australians, those who live with disability and those who care for them. A recent scoping study by the Australian Human Rights Commission found that given the increasing prevalence of disability, an estimated 60 per cent of homes will, at some point, be occupied by a person with disability or injury.

The study, published earlier this year, found that because so few homes are designed to meet the needs of people with disability or older Australians, there are numerous problems with existing housing options. These include poor access, unsuitable internal layouts and a lack of other qualities such as good light and connections to outdoor views.
To help get around the issue without breaking the bank, increasing numbers of families are looking at building bespoke ancillary dwellings on their properties.
YOU magazine contacted a number of specialist builders to get the lowdown on all you need to know about building a granny flat.

What is an ancillary dwelling?

Sometimes referred to as mini homes or cabins, but more commonly known granny flats, these buildings are typically a one or two-bedroom self-contained housing unit located on the same block as a larger dwelling. Condensed into a smaller space, they offer all the features of a regular home, including a kitchen, bedroom, living room and bathroom.

What are the requirements for building a granny flat?

The requirements vary from state to state, but essentially there are a number of guidelines which you must comply with to determine if a granny flat can be built on your block. Discuss your options with your council, as there are various restrictions and policies to comply with before commencing. It can take anywhere from 10 days to 12 or more weeks to receive approval, depending on your council

What costs are involved?

CoreLogic data shows that building a granny flat on your property can help boost its value by as much as 30 per cent – but just remember, you get what you pay for. Granny flats have been advertised for as little as $10,000 but for that you will get barely more than a shell. Realistically, you should expect to pay anywhere from $40,000 to more than $150,000 – depending on your requirements.

What needs to be considered before building your granny flat?

When deciding on orientation, be sure to take into account the climate and what direction your backyard faces. By orientating your granny flat appropriately and analysing your heating and cooling requirements, you can ensure you maximise its energy efficiency.

What are the core design elements to consider?

While individual needs will vary, you will need to make sure your chosen provider is able to meet any requirements you have. This is likely to include a safe continuous and step-free path of travel from the street entrance and/or parking area to the granny flat, plus internal doors and corridors that facilitate unimpeded movement between spaces.