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Should you build a dual occupancy or a granny flat? - 14 Sep, 2021

When designing a home for investment, there are two popular options that people have in mind: a dual occupancy home and a granny flat. Naturally, our clients ask themselves and us, “Should I build a dual occupancy home or a granny flat?” While we usually attempt to answer as straightforwardly as possible, like our responses to most things in our business, our answer is usually, “It depends on you.”

You may think that by responding with that we are taking the easy way out, however, it’s as honest an answer that we can give. Dual occupancy homes and granny flats are both excellent options for abodes, however, they have different strengths and weaknesses, those of which are dependent on a person’s lifestyle, needs and future goals. Without knowing what these are and without understanding their financial and time limitations, it’s hard for our team to provide a definitive answer.


How does our team guide clients to the best option?


Our approach is personal. We want to get to know you, your family and your life. Then, we guide you through each property type, go through their key features and main differences and generally talk you through your options. We’ll never go to our initial consultations with one set solution in mind. Our design solutions are meant to be tailor to you so that you can get the most out of your property.
A dual occupancy home can be either attached or detached. An attached dual occupancy home has two dwellings that are attached to each other (through a common wall) and located on one lot of land. A detached dual occupancy home is two separate dwellings that exist on one lot of land.
A granny flat is slightly different from a dual occupancy home (though very similar). It is a self-contained dwelling that is part of the main building and under the same title. It can be attached or detached and is often on the same lot. It is frequently designed as a smaller version of the main house. A granny flat is considered a secondary dwelling, unlike dual occupancy homes.
Let’s now take a look at some of the factors our team will assess when determining whether a dual occupancy home or a granny flat is right for you.

Dual occupancy property

Here are a few key points to note with a dual occupancy property:

  • It can be subdivided into separate properties

  • Utilities and leases can be separated if renting

  • You can construct a separate entrance

  • Both dwellings will be full and complete homes

You must ensure that a dual occupancy home can be built in the specific local council zoning area. Dual occupancy homes must comply with specific planning controls which include a minimum site area and a minimum site width which are specified by your local council.


Who is a dual occupancy right for?

Dual occupancy homes are very versatile. They are perfect for families interested in an additional income stream through renting or selling as it is very easy to separate utility bills.

Though dual occupancy homes may be more costly than granny flats to construct, they have an impressive return on investment because it is considered “a complete home” and has a separate entrance. Renters are more likely to opt for another dwelling in a dual occupancy home because it is more separate and private than a granny flat. This allows you to invest in your future quicker and pay off any pending construction costs easily.

Granny flat

Here are a few key points to consider with a granny flat:

  • They fall under the same title as the main house

  • It is built in conjunction with the main dwelling

  • Usually patterned after the main house’s design

  • Subdivision is not permitted with a granny flat (opposite of a dual occupancy)

Only the primary (main house) and secondary dwelling (granny flat) are allowed on a lot of land. As it cannot be subdivided, it is not suited to homeowners who will eventually want to sell it for a profit in the future (though it can be sold with the primary dwelling). Utilities also cannot be separated, making renting more difficult.

Who is a granny flat right for?

Granny flats are right for people who may want to keep their elderly parents close. It can also be beneficial to provide adolescent children with a place to stay while they sort out their own homes. It is a great option for renting to short-term tenants, however, if that is your main goal, we recommend a dual occupancy home.

For more property and design advice, contact the ES Design team.