Designed for one or two persons, a granny flat is a self-contained living area usually located on the grounds of a single-family home. A granny flat can be detached, or it can be attached to the other dwelling. It is sometimes called a granny flat because it is a popular way for families to accommodate aging parents. Such living areas are also used for nannies or for young adult members of the family.

Granny flats are often defined as “secondary dwellings.” While this is basically correct, when it comes to seeking approval for a granny flat, it’s better to understand how your local council defines the term. This is not as complicated as you might imagine. While different localities may have slightly different regulations, they all follow these general guidelines:

  • A secondary dwelling is a dwelling in addition to the main home. You cannot build a granny flat on unoccupied land or on a property used primarily for commercial purposes.
  • A granny flat must be “self-contained.” This means that it must have a separate entrance and have separate toilet, bathing, sleeping, cooking and living facilities. It does not, however, require separate parking facilities.

A number of regulations have been adopted in order to prevent home owners or developers from attempting to overstep the boundaries of the definition of a granny flat:

  • Granny flats can be built only on Residential Zone property.
  • Only one granny flat is allowed on any single residential property.
  • The owner of the granny flat must also be the owner of the primary dwelling.
  • The granny flat cannot take up more space than the maximum allowed for the primary dwelling.
  • As a rule, a granny flat can have no more than 60 square metres of living space and 12 square metres of patio or veranda space. Regulations vary slightly from council to council, but you can use these as a general guide.
  • Granny flats cannot exist on strata title, subdivided or community title property.

As long as it is self-contained as defined above, a granny flat can be attached to the home or it can be a separate dwelling.