If you’re involved in real estate or building in any way then you’re well aware of the Granny flat boom in Australia.

This movement is taking place on the Central Coast just as much as anywhere else thanks to our gorgeous beaches, nature, and slower-paced lifestyle. It’s part of a larger worldwide movement such as the Tiny House Movement and the “Fonzie” flats that are popping up around the world.

Like anything that has become so popular, you’re guaranteed to get the kind of people who want to latch on to something successful to try to make some quick cash but who really don’t know what they’re doing. Mistakes like hiring the wrong person to build your Granny Flat are the kinds that you really don’t want to be making.

So, in the name of spending your hard-earned money well and  to make sure that your Granny Flat gives you exactly what you hope it will, let’s take a look at what you can expect when building one, and what to keep your eye out for so you don’t fall into any nasty little traps along the way.

Planning

The first part is to find a design that you want. You can never really take too much time on this step… it can also be one of the hardest because the possibilities are practically endless. If you’re not an experienced builder yourself, then you’re going to need to find one.

Choosing a builder is a little like choosing a husband or a wife. Well, maybe not that extreme, after all, you can sell what your builder builds for you; it’s a little harder to sell your husband even if you might want to at times! The point is, you’re going to live with your investment for potentially a very long time, especially if it’s being built on your family home.

There’s a few things to think about here:

  • If your builder doesn’t want to help you choose the design you want, then run! A good builder will want to collaborate with you right from the very beginning, including design features, floor plans and ultimately what it is that you want.
  • Ask around. Ask friends and family or friends of friends who you trust to see if the builder you’re using is trustworthy and will do a good job. There’s nothing better than a word of mouth recommendation.
  • Get at least 3 quotes. A good relationship goes two ways: it’s important to pay a fair price for good work. You don’t want to get ripped off, just as paying too low will more than likely leave you with shoddy workmanship. Getting three quotes will give you a good idea of what is a fair price.

Once you’ve chosen your design according to NSW regulations, you should probably expect about 20 days for it to get approved.

Site Preparation

This is the exciting (and extremely messy) bit! It can be slightly terrifying to see your old backyard dug up and completely upturned. Expect anything in the way to be demolished, like your 1970’s clothesline (sell it on gumtree) and expect a lot of dirt for the next little while. It might be an idea to invest in an extra doormat, or dedicate a pair of shoes as your “demolition shoes”!

It’s important to remember that council regulations require you to inform your neighbours about what you plan to build. If they’re upset, tell them you’ll have a Granny Flat Warming for every granny and their cat on the street, with free tea and scones if that calms them down a little.

The Foundation

There’s not many things much more exciting than watching the foundations of your new tiny abode being poured. A termite barrier should also be incorporated at this stage of construction, so if you want to make sure your builder is on his game you could gently  “inquire” about this if you want to have some fun/peace of mind that everything is travelling smoothly.

Once the foundation is poured, this will also let you know exactly how much room the granny flat will take up so you can begin to plan out the rest of your backyard.

The Build

From here the structure will go up followed by the ‘lock-up’ (whatever material you’ve chosen for the exterior), the utilities, kitchen and the final fit-outs of the rest of the interior. If you’re thinking of renting your granny flat out then make sure you get an external electricity meter to avoid future potential disputes.

It’s a good idea to keep a friendly conversation going with your builder during all stages of the build. You don’t want to become a nuisance by investigating every little thing – not a great trust builder – but keeping a positive atmosphere on site will ensure that good work is getting done!

Once everything is built, the builder should do one final inspection with you close at hand and will then hand you the keys! After that, it’s up to you to enjoy your new humble little abode however you see fit!