Contemporary, modern and highly versatile, the humble granny flat has exploded in popularity in recent years.
Whether you’re considering a granny flat for your own backyard or for one of your investment properties, it’s highly recommended that you use an expert to manage the build. Look for a granny flat builder with a proven history of quality and customer
service and that offers total management of the project from start to finish. This ensures your granny flat will meet council regulations and is constructed to the highest standards.
Mark Moumdjian, chief operations manager of Ian Cubitt’s Classic Home Improvements – who build more than 300 granny flats per year across New South Wales – guides us through the simple process step by step.
1: Questions and quotes
The first step is to contact your chosen granny ﬂat builder. Walking through a showroom of full-sized, functional granny flats with all the fixtures and fittings is the best way to see and feel what the company offers.
“At Classic Home Improvements, the first thing we do is allocate a personal design consultant to you, who will contact you to get the ball rolling,” says Moumdjian. “We also send a letter with the consultant’s details and photos so you know you’re dealing with a genuine expert.”
The consultant will visit your property to determine the site’s suitability for a granny flat in terms of council requirements and size. Council regulations for granny flats vary immensely across Australia’s states and territories, so it’s important that a local professional performs this task for you.
Once the site measurements are completed and the property is given the green light by the consultant, you’ll be able to choose a design for your granny flat. This allows your builder to calculate the full cost of the project so there are no surprises along the way.
“Once we know all the numbers, we can do the feasibility studies with you and draw up all the necessary reports and quotes with the final price so you know exactly how much it will cost and whether it’s going to get the returns you expect,” Moumdjian says, adding that at this point clients can choose to either walk away with a friendly handshake, or accept the quote and move to the next stage.
“We’ve been building granny ﬂats for 12 years, and we’ve seen them work in every market”
2: Sign on and start up
Once all the contracts are drawn up to specification and signed off, you move to the exciting task of fitting out your granny flat.
“You can visit any of our showrooms and design centres and choose your external and internal colours, along with vanities, toilets, tapware and fittings, so that it matches the character of your existing property and your target market,” says Moumdjian.
He explains that Classic Home Improvements has several standard designs to choose from, ranging from one to three bedrooms and in varying sizes and shapes to suit different blocks, but each one can be completely customised.
“You can change the ﬂoor plan, choose the exterior veneer you want – the sky is the limit,” he says.
3: Architects and approvals
Once finalised, the plans and inclusions are passed to the Architectural Department to be drawn up and signed off by the client. At this point the experts will be able to ensure the paperwork is complete and meets all regulations before sending it to the correct department for approval.
“Plans are lodged to either our Private Certifier, who can approve the plans in around 20 days, or to council for a Development Approval. A DA is only necessary when there are certain factors in play, such as the property being in a ﬂood zone,” explains Moumdjian.
“We always make sure that throughout the process our clients know what stage we’re up to and the next steps.”
4: Construction and completion
Just like any quality off-the-plan new build, the Classic Home Improvements team constructs granny flats onsite. They allocate a site supervisor who stays in charge of the job right through to the end, says Moumdjian.
“The supervisor is the client’s first point of contact; they keep the build on track and take care of every detail so you don’t have to. A typical build is between 12 and 16 weeks from start to completion, so it’s actually a very quick turnaround.”
While Moumdjian says there’s no governing law regarding access to the granny flat, he suggests providing an access path that’s at least 1m wide.
“As a landlord, you want to give your tenants clear, comfortable access to the home,” he says.
During the build period, you can begin talking to real estate agents about potential tenants, and run some numbers on comparable granny flats in your suburb. You may find real estate agents can line up tenants before the build is even completed.
5: Handover and housewarming
When the construction crew rolls offsite and the granny ﬂat has been approved for occupancy, you’ll be provided with a set of keys and important documentation about the building, including all approvals, certificates and builders’ warranties.
“We go a bit further and supply our clients with a USB that contains construction photos of the entire build, as well as all the important information they need,” Moumdjian says.
Finally, don’t forget to have a depreciation schedule done by a qualified quantity surveyor.
If you live in the existing dwelling, you may also be eligible to claim depreciation on common shared areas as well, such as patios and pools.
“We’ve been building granny flats for 12 years, and we’ve seen them work in every market,” Moumdjian says.
“They’re an incredibly versatile addition to a portfolio that delivers excellent returns for investors.”