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The rise of the granny flat

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Born of the concept to house grandma at home with the family rather than in an aged care facility, the humble granny flat is once again making a comeback, only this time homeowners are swapping granny for rent-paying tenants.

Turning spare dirt into tidy profits, Novocastrians are joining a national trend making use of every spare inch of land available to them.

Call it a cottage, farmers house, guesthouse or secondary dwelling, granny flats are a smaller, separate accommodation space that shares the same zoning as the main property.

For Newcastle real estate agent Stephanie Jordan, adding a granny flat to her block in New Lambton was a way to bring life to a dead space.

Stephanie Jordan at her New Lambton granny flat

“If you have land you’re not using, it could be earning you money,” she says.

“The returns on what it costs to build a granny flat can be really lucrative.”

Ms Jordan’s secondary dwelling, completed late last month, was custom designed by Newcastle building designer and draftsman Sean Harrison to suit its irregular shaped lot.

High ceilings, tall windows, and a north-facing aspect have allowed the 60 square metre property on Carnley Avenue to feel open and spacious while requiring little footprint.

Design is key to maximising square-footage

Cleverly designed to match the street scape, the two-bedroom one-bathroom home is the result of many smart choices, something Ms Jordan says is essential when planning your granny flat.

“This was ten years in the making for me. Every decision had to fit just right.

“My biggest advice is to do your research. It has to be the right block, find out the council rules and regulations where you live and then shop around for construction and design ideas. I’m happy with all of my choices, this is an investment that will continue to earn a return well into the future.”

“Find the right block”.

Like most things, the granny flat does come with pros and cons.

Pros

Granny flats are a cost-effective investment. Building or buying a ready-made granny flat is more affordable than constructing a stand-alone property. This means you could kickstart your property portfolio with a much cheaper loan from a lender.

Like all property investments, once established your granny flat can generate a potentially healthy regular income. The addition of a granny flat also boosts the overall value of the initial property.

It’s also accommodation close enough to keep an eye on if a friend or family member needs a place to set up.

Cons

The construction and design of a granny flat can add up, with landowners encouraged to get quotes that include all stages to turnkey ready. Granny flats cost around $160,000 to $200,000 depending on the block. For an established block, like a subdivided block in Cardiff currently on the market for $500,000 to $550,000, the build price would be around $380,000.

How good are you at sharing? Having a granny flat on your block means your once private backyard is now shared with on-site tenants. This is where a good designer comes in handy.

Light, bright interiors add to a spacious feel

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