A few years ago if you asked me what a granny flat is, I would have probably said it’s an apartment which grandparents move into. Something similar to a nursing home. Interestingly I wasn’t far from the truth back then. A granny flat is a self-contained one or two bedroom living area usually located on the grounds of a single-family home. It is commonly occupied by grandparents hence the name. Granny flats are, however, also used to settle young adult members of the family. They are increasingly being used as rental units, but local zoning laws and deed restrictions can sometimes ban renting them out.
Most granny flats are assembled in the backyard of the main house as an accessory living space. The units may have their own driveway or off-street parking. The entrance may be shared or separate from the main house. Everything about a granny flat can be custom made to the occupants’ requirements
Granny flats, also called carriage units, are miniature versions of full-sized housing units with complete kitchens. The kitchens in these units are designed to be small but fully functional. Some have mini-fridges and microwaves to reduce the safety implications. Custom kitchen fixtures are used variably. From steel cooktops to soft closing drawers, all is possible.
The electrical system can be fixed independently of the main house or as an extension. Most grandparents who move into granny flats prefer having their independent meter. This gives them a sense of freedom. On the contrary adult members of the family occupying carriage units favour running their electricity through the main meter to avoid any bills coming to them. Water heating systems and air conditioning are also an optional installation.
Being self-contained, these units have independent plumbing to cater for the bathroom and toilet. Sink drains, roof gutters and downpipes are also installed to dispose of wastewater and rainwater.
Why would anyone move into a granny flat? Perhaps this is the most important question when it comes to this modern construction. For young adults, this living space offers a sense of independence. Living out of the main house is the first step towards freedom and moving out of the nest. Within these units, the young adults get the privacy they’ve always desired.
Years have seen more and more grandparents move into these granny flats. This can be attributed to many things but topping the list is the proximity of grandchildren. Research shows that senior citizens do best when they have an abundance of social contact, and living near a younger family makes that more likely.
For those who want to take care of their parents, the granny pod might be the solution for you. This unit is the newest in the granny flats production line. It offers high-tech monitoring capabilities so that the occupants can be checked on via remote access. The amenities that can be installed include a toilet that checks the temperature and does a simple urinalysis and a timed medication dispenser.
Although the granny flat is becoming increasingly popular, it’s not for everyone. Some grandparents may feel that moving into an accessory home involves loss of independence and solitude. Such grandparents opt to stay in a retirement community or just move in with other adults.
Moving into the unit is simple but can very tricky. This is a result of the need to scale down on almost everything to fit into these granny flats. This may mean giving out some of your wardrobe or possessions just to have enough room. You may also need to purchase items that are specific to the unit, for example, a mini fridge for the kitchen or retractable beds for the rooms. Also, financial arrangements should be carefully worked out to avoid family disputes over money. These units can be designed to run independently from the main house.
So who do you go to when you want to set up a granny flat at your place? Many companies specialise in designing and building granny flats. Just a simple Google search will give you numerous contacts within your locality. Licensing may be required to undertake this large installation of granny flats, but this depends on your municipal laws
When it comes to deciding the best unit for you, a few guidelines must be followed. ‘One size fits all’ solution is not an option to consider when choosing which unit to go with. Secondly, the unit you choose must serve the needs you have, whether it’s monitoring your grandparents or providing a safe living space for them. Lastly, the size of the unit is important. It might not be prudent to occupy your whole backyard with a unit; after all, it is just an accessory living space.
In this world of fast-paced technological advancements, new structural technologies are becoming popular and at the forefront is the granny flat. Realtors and builders report that they are already a good selling point. Perhaps it’s time you consider getting a unit.
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