Granny Flats – The Latest Trend

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What Is A Granny Flat?

A granny flat is a small apartment which is secondary to a main residence. Granny flats have also been known as names such as “mother-in-law apartments”, “granny suites”, and “accessory apartments”, the region the term is used in is usually the determinant, with “granny flat” being popular in Australia and “mother-in-law apartment” in wide usage in North America and “granny flat” being more popular in Australia.

Granny flats are commonly purpose-built to house an elder member of the family who is unable to living by themselves, but would prefer not to enter a nursing home or hospice for the elderly.

Often there will be a door acting as an access-way to the main residence, though there is almost always a separate entrance. In North America granny flats are usually built above the garage of the main residence or as a separate building sharing the same land as the main residence, in Australia almost all granny flats will be built on the same plot of land.


Australian Council Planning & Granny Flats

In some council areas, granny flats are illegal because they do not meet zoning laws requirements for the local district. Other problems one can encounter is if a granny flat has been constructed without the required permits or they do not satisfy the building codes.

Sometimes it’s illegal to rent out a granny flat, but perfectly within local laws for a relative to occupy the residence. The laws regarding who can stay in a granny flat (based on relations) and who can’t varies on a council to council basis, so if you are considering building one, it would be in your best interests to consult with the local housing authorities before beginning construction.

In Brisbane, it is not possible to rent or lease a granny flat that is under your house. This can be found in “Acceptable Solution A8” in the House Code. A house is required to be occupied by a single household group. If one were to rent or lease a secondary residence, also known as a granny flat, they would be in direct violation of the prescribed by “Acceptable Solution A8” because the house in question would used by one group, while the granny flat would be used by a secondary group. Failure to comply with the with the provided “Acceptable solution A8” will result in a formal notice of warning from the residential authorities and/or Brisbane City Council.

Brisbane Town Planning For Granny Flats

If you are planning to build a granny flat in Brisbane you will need to discuss preliminary design concepts and obtain feedback from a professional agency. You will also need to provide and fill out “Preparation of Town Planning” as well as your “Development Application” via the Brisbane City Council before you start construction of your granny flat.

It’s much easier if a professional agency manages your applications, this includes the mandatory “Risksmart and Fast track development assessment” which is performed with the Brisbane City Council and is essential when trying to get your granny flat plans approved.


Professional Granny Flat Advice

If you can enlist the services of a professional agency when considering a granny flat, you can benefit from that fact that they are happy to communicate with the Brisbane City Council on your behalf, this makes thing easier because they already know how to deal with them.

“When building a granny flat, it’s important to seek out advice in regard to the local planning requirements, giving ample time prior to construction will enable you the best chance to reach a successful outcomes by the time you plan to break ground.”

Other case where you may need a professional agency to step in when building a granny flat in Brisbane include performing site appraisals, “show causes notices” and “property development feasibility” studies. Another tricky hurdle can be making sure any “show cause notices” have been properly addressed.

If during or after the completion of your granny flat, you encounter any enforcement notices on behalf of Brisbane City Council, a professional agency that specialises in granny flats should be able to provide assistance.

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