Guide to Modular Granny Flats – The Pros and Cons

Modular Granny Flats

Though it varies slightly in purpose (and by building regulations), a granny flat is a cabin-like structure typically built at the rear of an existing house. It can serve as either an additional accommodation for a resident of the property, as a temporary guest house for visiting relatives or as an add-on residence that can then be rented out. With this understanding now in place, let’s have a more in-depth look at the granny flats in Australia.

Modular Granny Flats Defined

As distinct from a normal or ‘regular’ granny flat that is created from scratch, a modular granny flat is a pre-built structure that can be simply inserted — rather than constructed — outright on your land. For many Australians who are looking to explore the idea of a granny flat but are wary of going through the construction and design process, a modular flat can initially be an appealing idea.

What’s more, as opposed to bygone eras where a modular granny flat could often come in a one-size-fits-all approach — or offered very few options for customisation — the contemporary modular granny flat industry now takes its design cues from a variety of inspirations. Meaning, those who seek a modern look instead of a 1970’s caravan park theme (great for summer holiday memories but not for your backyard permanently) will often find a style for their need.

The Easy Mistake to Make

While it is widely known and understood by Australians that major works on their property shall need local council approval, a good number still fail to recognize that a modular granny flat usually has the same regulations that apply to it.

Though it may be an appealing idea to look towards a flat that is advertised as one you can build yourself as a DIY project, when it comes to the actual time spent in the process, materials and tools needed – as well as expertise (and need to call in a professional builder to guide or finish jobs when trouble is encountered) – the process of establishing a modular granny flat on your property is not nearly as straightforward as it appears.

It is, in a way, an easy mistake to make – “Sure, I understand building a granny flat could involve some red tape, but this one is ready-made. So it’s no issue if I’m not building anything right?” But (as a rule) anytime your property adds a major structure or feature to its existing space, a word to the council is wise.

Furthermore, while anyone who constructs a regular granny flat shall understand upfront the expenses involved, a modular flat can often bring with it many hidden expenses. So though a builder may advertise a construction paid for exclusively by payments of less than $100 a week, the fine print of such a deal can affirm buying a regular granny flat can be greater value overall.

The Bottom Line

A modular flat may have certain advantages in the initial stage but over the long term, their drawbacks become considerable when compared to regular granny flats.

In particular, while a modular granny flat may hold an appeal as an ‘out of the box’ creation, by the time the expense, regulatory process, and installation has occurred, it often leaves a new flat owner thinking they could have gotten more value for money and quality of output by simply opting for a conventional granny flat.

At the end of the day, it’s preferable that you do your research, seek out a design you like and be ready to invest a little more in the initial stage for greater, long-term returns. Do so and you’ll be sure to love any granny flat you acquire.

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