With house prices ever increasing, and extended families wishing to stay close to each other there has been a rise in popularity in annexes. The rest of the world refers to them as ‘secondary suites’ but here in the UK with know them better, and more colloquially, as granny flats.
Whether you have adult children who cannot quite yet afford to fly the nest and buy their own home or you have elderly relatives who you want to be close to, an annexe is a marvellous solution that allows both you and them to maintain their independence while still only being a minute walk from one another. But if you’re thinking about constructing a granny flat or converting part of your home or an existing outbuilding into one, just what do you need to know?
Here’s our guide to just about everything you need to know about granny annexes…
Remember it’s not you who’s going to be living there!
As much as you love your family, it’s important to remember that the space should be designed so that they feel at home, not you. Whether it’s an older or a younger generation who will be living in the space it’s likely their personal taste will deviate somewhat from your own. So a little compromise on the décor of the home can go a long way, let them choose all of the easily changeable aspects such as the colour of the walls, the furniture and type of lighting fixtures. But the more permanent aspects you may want to have control over such as the kitchen fixtures, that way it will be a fairly straightforward process to repurpose the space if your family member eventually moves into care or a home of their own.
Break up the space
The whole point behind an annexe is to create a separate dwelling for an individual or individuals, so that even though they are just at the bottom of the garden they still maintain their freedom and independence. Even though you will likely still spend a lot of time together, sharing evening meals or popping around for cup of tea frequently etc. it’s this independence that makes all the difference. A good way to achieve this is to create a side entrance which allows the occupants of the annexe to access their home without having to go through the main home.
You should also aim to make the annexe as self-sufficient as possible. If you can fit it out with a complete kitchen or kitchenette, and if you have the space fence around the annexe a small garden area for the occupants.
Consider access requirements
If it’s an older relative you’re designing the space for then your first consideration should be how to ensure ease of access for them, as they, or their friends may have restricted mobility. Safety rails are inexpensive and easy to install but can make a huge difference, and there are a range of manufacturers who produce bathroom and kitchen products for users with restricted mobility. You may also want to consider installing an intercom or panic alarm system, so you have peace of mind that you will always be able to attend to your relatives if they were to fall or need you.
It can have an effect on council tax
Each self-contained property, e.g. one with its own front door. You construct will have their own separate council tax band. However, it is possible to get discounts on these council tax rates if they are occupied by a family member, and annexes occupied by family members who are dependants are completely exempt from council tax. To find out more check out this very helpful guide on council tax from The Citizens Advice Bureau.