The Granny Flat

For reasons discussed previously on the merits of the duplex the humble granny flat represents an opportunity with many of the same benefits.


Housing supply, housing costs, kids staying at home longer. All things we hear over and over again. So perhaps the granny flat is not so humble after all. It now represents an often easier and cheaper way to add habitable space to your property while at the same time generating income.


These modest self contained dwellings are different from a backyard studio in that they enable someone to live completely independently of the main dwelling. They would typically have their own kitchen, bathroom, bedroom and (teenage kids take note) a laundry. No excuses for running back to mum or dad for this little bit of domestic joy.


We are currently undertaking a couple of granny flats and I find myself wondering why we don’t have one. After all a space doesn’t need to be big to be a home but it also doesn’t need to look like a shed. The example above we are working on has a mezzanine for the bedroom allowing light down into the living area while also maintaining a spatial connection with the rest of the space.


For a lucky few of us with land sizes big enough these developments can be undertaken as a complying development. Meaning no submitting a DA to council with the usual heartache involved with that. Who is able to do this?


Is your lot 450 square meters or more?

Is your land in an R1-R5 zone?

Are you happy with a structure that is no bigger than 60 square meters?

If yes, then you are well on your way. There are a number of other requirements but we can look at those for you. If the anwser is ‘no’ this doesn’t necessarily mean you cannot build a granny flat. It just means you will have to go through the traditional DA process to get it approved. Waverley, Woollahra, City of Sydney and Inner West (Marrickville) for example all allow for secondary dwellings (i.e granny flat or studio) if they comply with each councils different requirements. For example Woollahra only allows for them if they are connected to the principal dwelling.




The diagram above shows options available for how you might configure your granny flat. It does not need to be physically seperate from the main house.



A Little warning. Because your proposed granny flat will have the ability to generate income by housing additional people/workers in the suburb council is going to hit you with a not so small fee. For a single bedroom dwelling this may add $12-15K to the project if you are in the City of Sydney for example.



The short answer is no. A granny flat is unique in that it allows whoever is living in it (hopefully paying rent) to be independent of the main house. A studio on the other hand is smaller and does not include all those things that keep it independent. If the space is not going to generate income by being rented out separately from the main house and is really just to give you some space from your teenager then complying development is your friend again. Who is able to build a studio?


Is your lot 200 square meters or more?

Is your land in an R1-R5 zone?

Are you happy with a structure that is no larger than 20 square meters (if lot is no larger than 350sqm) or 35 square meters (if lot is larger than 350sqm)?

If yes, then a studio approved through complying development may be an option. As above if your land is under 350sqm this does not necessarily preclude you from building a studio. Most councils make provision for secondary dwellings. But you will have to go through the traditional DA process to get one approved.


As of this week the complying development code has been made a little bit easier to understand. So much so that they are calling it the simplified housing code. Had a coffee, not trying to catch up on the latest box set, bored? Download it here


This little fact sheet will also help clarify things. If not always feel free to give us a call.


  • Damian
    Posted at 01:11h, 03 October Reply

    Thank you for your brief explanation .

  • Classic Granny Flats
    Posted at 00:40h, 05 March Reply

    The short answer is no. A granny level is special in that it permits whoever is living in it (ideally paying rent) to be autonomous of the fundamental house. Thanks for sharing this one. Keep blogging.

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