3 must-knows before building a granny flat in Queensland in 2023

Today the stars are aligned, and in our humble opinion, it’s never been a better time to build a granny flat in the Sunshine State. You’re now free to rent your flat to anyone (not just relatives), earn up to $25k per year, and spend a pittance to make money or a home for family.

But first, let’s make sure you do it right and make it the most rewarding experience possible with these three crucial must-knows.

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What do you need to know about building a granny flat?

While 40 years ago you might have been able to slap a port-a-loo beside your shed and call it home, granny flats today are properly-constructed building projects that need genuine planning. It’s not a scary or daunting project though; granny flats follow basic 1-2-3 planning procedures that make it a straightforward process.

Essentially, you need to check three things off your list:

  1.  That your secondary dwelling will fulfil its purpose
  2. That it meets zoning requirements for your area
  3. That it’s built to regulation and of high quality

Let’s start with creating a granny flat that does what you need it to do.

How to make sure your granny flat fulfils its purpose.

First, determine why you want to build a granny flat, both now and in the future. You could be building one for:

  • Passive rental income
  • Family to live in
  • A teen retreat
  • Holiday rental accommodation
  • Studio or office space

The purpose matters because it determines the design, location and size of your secondary dwelling.

Here’s what you’ll need to consider:

Privacy.

If you’re planning to rent the space out to tenants, as holiday accommodation or for family, you’ll likely want to factor in privacy; i.e. making sure the unit isn’t so close that you feel like you’re in each other’s space. If the granny flat is for a studio or teen retreat, it might be just fine sitting close to your home.

Having said that, think about future possibilities too. It might be a teen retreat now, but a few years down the track you might want to rent it out, so it’s worth considering all options when it comes to the location.

Access.

Holidaymakers and tenants will expect direct, easy access to the front door; the more private, the better. Trust us, we’ve seen homeowners design beautiful flats on their property and completely forget that the tenants will have to walk past their clear bathroom window or underneath a washing line!

You can manufacture private access using hedges and trees, fences and by clearing a new walkway along a fence line. There are usually several options available that our team can help you map out.

Size.

Granny flats can be built as studio apartments all the way up to three-bedroom homes. The size and number of bedrooms will be determined by the room you have on your property, who you expect to live there, the cost of the project and what you expect to earn in rent (more on that in a moment).

It’s helpful to look up other granny flats in your area and see what’s on offer. You can check online listings like Facebook Marketplace and Gumtree, and holiday accommodation sites like Airbnb and Stayz. Look for prices, number of bedrooms and location to get a feel for the style of granny flats that are on offer.

Layout.

Granny flats have a much simpler design process because most quality builders will have designs already drawn up for different sizes and purposes. For instance, we have an investor range that works brilliantly for granny flats that will become homes for tenants. However, your layout may need to be different if you’re planning to use it as a studio and office space, for instance. Have a look at different designs to see which one suits the way the space will be used most.

Cost vs income.

If your goal is passive income, you’ll need to look at the cost to build a granny flat and how much you could reasonably expect to earn in return. Then, factor in any other expenses; electricity, water, insurance and general maintenance. That will help you determine the size and cost of your project.

 

Remember though, that granny flats are one of the most lucrative investments you can make. Not only does it add value to your property, but it’s also capable of earning yields up to 14%. We’ve built granny flats on the Gold Coast that cost as little as $90,000 to build and earn $400 per week, which is an enormous return on investment!

 

How to check your granny flat meets zoning laws

The dreaded part of almost any build is zoning regulations. A reputable builder will know the laws properly and guide you through them, but we’ll give you an idea of what to look for here.

Thankfully, Queensland recently revised its granny flat laws which have made everything much simpler. Now, granny flats can be rented to anyone, not just family or depending on which suburb you live in. So, no need to worry about whether a granny flat is worth it or not! Here’s what you do need to consider:

Building approvals and development applications.

In Queensland, you’ll need to get building approval for a secondary dwelling, but you may not need a Development Application (DA). Building approval is easy if you use a granny flat builder to manage the project and submit the designs to a building certifier and council on your behalf.

Size and location.

Again, a builder can assess your property to determine the legal placement, but as a general rule of thumb, granny flats must have a footprint of less than 80m2 (otherwise you may need DA). Boundary setbacks may apply, but since setback regulations can be street-specific, an expert would be the best one to see what applies to your property.

Some parts of Queensland have laws to limit the coverage of buildings versus land. For instance, Brisbane will allow lots of 400m2 and over to be 50% covered by buildings. These laws vary between Local Government Authorities, so check with a local builder who knows the zoning laws.

How to make sure you build to regulation and high quality

The answer to this one is simple: do your research on your builder. 

You’ll want to scour websites, look at designs, check reviews and ask for recommendations from friends and family.

We’ve seen granny flat companies offer incredible prices, but the trade-off is in the quality. Treat a granny flat as if it were your own home; make wise choices on quality materials, fixtures and fittings that will keep it going strong for decades. You’ll get better bang for your buck in the long run, especially by saving in maintenance costs, repairs and replacements.

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