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What Are Granny Flats?

Dan Cavallari
Dan Cavallari

Granny flats are additional living spaces on a property only designed for one living space. They are most commonly known as secondary suites or in-law apartments, and they can be built into guest houses, pool houses, or even in or above garages. Granny flats are increasingly popular among urban planners and homeowners because they maximize available living space in small areas, particularly suburban areas in which houses tend to be sprawled out. Some homeowners use these living spaces to house additional family members, while others rent out the flats to people looking for an affordable living situation.

Some countries or localities have laws regarding granny flats; these laws may prohibit a homeowner from renting out the space for profit because the flats may violate local zoning laws. Other laws may be in place to dictate the construction of such granny flats, or the accommodations that must be included in such flats. Some regions do not have laws regarding such dwellings, so homeowners are free to use the space as they please. To get around local laws, some homeowners will use the space only to house guests or relatives staying for a short period of time in the space.

Man with hands on his hips
Man with hands on his hips

Several types of granny flats exist. Some of the most common flats are built into attic or basement spaces in a detached structure such as a garage. The attic or basement will need to be fitted with all the plumbing and electrical services common in normal homes to be in compliance with codes and to be habitable for extended periods of time. The layout and size of the granny flats can vary significantly based on the size of the detached structure. In most cases, an external doorway will need to be installed to allow tenants to come and go freely; this is a safety concern more than a matter of convenience.

Detached structures such as pool houses can also be converted into granny flats. These tend to be positioned in the backyard of a home, which can make access to the dwelling a bit difficult, though the conveniences are often the same as in any other type of flat. These flats, like the ones above or below garages, are often studio spaces, which means there are no individual rooms, but instead one large room. The bathroom is, of course, separate from the one large room, though the kitchen or kitchenette is likely to be part of the one large room.

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