6 Essential Guidelines When Building a Granny Flat


You want to maximize your property’s potential by building a granny flat – or at least you’re seriously considering it. Good for you!

Not only do homes that also have granny flats for sale enjoy increased value (should you ever want to move), but granny flats are also a great way to make extra cash by renting out, or keeping your family together by facilitating easy inter-generational living.

Of course, it’s not as simple as just building the space. Here are some guidelines to help you through the process.

1) Talk to a Pro

It doesn’t matter how handy you are with a hammer. It doesn’t even matter if you built your own home with your own two hands. Constructing another dwelling on your property comes with its own unique challenges, including different zoning rules, bylaw requirements and schematic nuances that probably didn’t apply to your primary home. Even if you don’t end up hiring a professional, consulting with someone who knows the ropes will ultimately save you time, money and a lot of stress.

2) Set Your Intentions

Have a clear idea of who you’re building the granny flat for. Is it going to be a source of income? A place to temporarily house visiting friends and family? Or a permanent residence for an elderly relative or older child? We know that the people who use the space may change over the years, but – in your initial considerations – knowing who you are building the space for will help you optimally design that space for its intended inhabitants.

3) Attached or Unattached?

Whether or not the space will be attached to your primary structure or will exist on its own will come down to three main factors: Again, who’s living there, and also how much space you have and (often by extension) your zoning laws. Usually – but not always – the bigger your property, the more likely you are of being able to build an entirely separate dwelling, whereas small properties are more likely to allow for extensions, but not totally detached homes. This is where a pro will come in handy and save you the hassle of trying to navigate the ins and outs yourself.

4) Your Abilities

Decide how much of the project you can realistically accomplish yourself, and how much you will need to contract out. Are you adept at electrical? Plumbing? Dry-walling? Flooring? Painting? Will you need to hire a decorator, or is home decor something you love and want to handle yourself. Be honest. Having your necessary contractors lined up will keep the project on schedule and (comparatively) stress free.

5) Your Budget

You may want to build a palace, but you need to decide if this something you can actually afford while still paying bills for your original home. Detached granny flats usually cost more than additions, so your choice may be largely a matter of money.

6) Time Frame

Is this a rush project, or is it something you can work on over a matter of months, or even years? This will impact almost everything else on this list, including your intentions, the prospective residents, your budget and how much of the work you’ll need to hire out.

The key to building a granny flat is to have a plan. Flying by the seat of your pants may work when you’re going for a run, or deciding what to order for dinner, but when you’re making this kind of investment, as much as possible, it’s best to know what you’re going to do, every step of the way.

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