The 4 most common granny flat design mistakes and how to avoid them
In our 35+ years of building granny flats, we’ve been honoured to build an extremely long list of beautifully designed flats, helping people discover the granny flat of their dreams. But working in the industry for that long has also given us an insight into the many mistakes people make when it comes to building their granny flat.
The four most common mistakes are easily avoidable, so long as you know what they are and what to look out for…
Mistake #1 / Ignoring Government regulations
It is very easy to get a granny flat approved in New South Wales, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have to be approved at all. So long as you meet the site requirements that the Government has set out, you shouldn’t have a problem, but if you ignore them or bend the rules, you may find yourself in hot water – fast.
Ignoring the government regulations and not going through the very basic approval process is a shortcut that can cost you lots of time, money and stress.
Mistake #2 / Failure to plan
Once you decide to build a granny flat, it can be so easy to get caught up in the excitement, and the temptation to rush in and get started straight away can be strong. This is where we recommend saying ‘Stop!’ and taking a breath, giving yourself the time to prepare, research, budget and plan for success.
The planning phase of building a granny flat is so crucial, and most of the granny flat mistakes we see could have been avoided with some extra thought and planning. Some of the main areas to invest time into planning include:
- Design. Take the time to ask yourself the question of what you are building a granny flat for, and make sure your design meets your goals. For example, the right flat for elderly family members and grandparents will look different to the right flat for an extended home office or teenage retreat.
- Budget. It’s important that you carefully weigh up all the costs involved with your granny flat to avoid stress and sticky situations near the end of the project. Talk to your builder to make sure you know exactly what is included in their package so that you can add any extras to the budget that may not be included. Make sure you plan to the very end including landscaping and furnishings so that your space is completely functional when it’s finished.
- Scheduling. There can be a lot of details to coordinate in a building project and not planning your timeline correctly can cause all kinds of problems. Working with a good builder will help alleviate this stress but taking the time to map out the building timeline to check that it works with your personal schedule is an important part of the planning process to avoid additional stress and worry that can lead to mistakes.
Mistake #3 / Spending money in the wrong places
If you are working with a specific budget, prioritising it properly is extremely important to avoid needless mistakes. If you’re deciding where to cut back and save, make sure you prioritise things correctly. One of the most common mistakes includes cutting back on fundamental design features while splurging on finishes and furnishings and things that can be easily changed.
If budget is a concern, we recommend focussing on the foundational features like the floor plan, kitchen and bathrooms that are harder to change and saving money on things like window dressings, basic landscaping and furniture that are far easier to upgrade later.
The other common mistake people make when they prioritise their budget is choosing a builder based solely on their quoted price. Choosing a cheaper builder often means choosing a cheaper product. Alarm bells should be ringing if they are significantly cheaper than your other quotes, and you should be asking where those cost savings are coming from. Remember that it is difficult to put a price tag on experience and quality and choosing the wrong builder for the sake of price can lead to a lot of mistakes.
Mistake #4 / Choosing the wrong building company
Choosing the wrong builder for your granny flat is a huge mistake that people commonly make. You need a builder who specialises in granny flats and has experience with them. Things to avoid include companies that subcontract their work out, that have limited designs to choose from, that don’t have a history of good reviews or that don’t have a portfolio of examples to browse.
You also need your builder to be someone that you can trust. If you talk to a builder and they don’t seem to be upfront about their costs, timeframes or work processes then it’s unlikely you’re going to have a good time with them. You want realistic timeframes and prices that you can rely on and plan with, as well as a builder that operates with integrity and honesty that keeps your best interests at heart.
Our team of granny flat builders are passionate about building amazing granny flats while making the process easy and stress-free for the homeowner. Mistakes are not something we make often because our standards are extremely high from years of experience and an intentional commitment to your 100% satisfaction. We are here to make your granny flat building experience simple, enjoyable and mistake-free, so if you are worried about building a granny flat properly and want to know more, call our friendly team and have a chat with an expert.