Tin shed granny flats

Tin shed granny flats

The word is out that your backyard granny flat may be in the firing line from local Councils targeting granny flats.  This could be a dilemma, especially if it is tenanted and you derive an income.  So, what should you do about it?

Firstly, if the backyard dwelling is not registered by the Council as a habitable living space, you could be fined or even demanded to pull it down.   If it was built by a registered builder with a building permit, then you have nothing to worry about.

Australian standards are high when it comes to living, and Council’s are looking to clean up the backyard’s that are using old sheds for the purpose of living.   Any  place that is being occupied must have a permit to have been built in the first place, and if it is to be occupied, then it must abide by the standards.  A tin shed for example, is not considered a place to live.


Some years back it was announced by the N.S.W. Government that they were looking to reduce some restrictions when  building additions to an existing home or secondary dwellings known as granny flats.   The intention was an incentive for the owner of the property to build extra living space that would be for the sole purpose of accommodating relatives thereby going some way to free up the rental housing situation.

With the on-going influx of persons wanting to come and live in Australia, utilizing large blocks of land to house more than one family makes good sense, but not at the expense of some who would illegally tenant tin sheds as a living space thereby creating a trend for a ghetto suburb.  

Australia is a heavily legislated country that can sometimes seem very inhibiting and encourage people not used to such strict rules to want to break those rules.  Like, accommodating people in less than satisfactory spaces, by not following the guidelines.  This needs to be stomped out as quickly as possible.

Recently, we built a granny flat in the backyard in Auburn Western Sydney and abiding by all the building codes and local council bi-laws.   Not everyone does this.  For example, on the neighbouring property to the left was a shed converted into living space and the  other side a single garage used for the same purpose.   Allowing this to continue will only see many of the older suburbs in Australia turn into ghettos.

Granny flats and additions to existing homes are an excellent means to add value to a property and make good use of vacant land, but everyone needs to abide by the rules.  Nova Design Granny Flats is a reputable company who applauds the backyard clean up.

Builder’s as Project Manager

Builder’s as Project Manager Skills

Builder’s project manager skills are vital resources for a successful building outcome.

How easy things can go wrong!

One of the major disadvantages for a builder of granny flats and homes in general is that there are many elements to a construction that involve different trades to accomplish the job.

For example, all jobs require the services of electricians,  plumbers,  plasterers, roofers, tilers and so on. It is the builder’s job to coordinate and organize all these various trades for any particular job because it is the builder who is signing the building contract with the client to fulfil the building contract obligation.

For any builder, project managing these various trades is a huge responsibility. When the building company is large they might have dedicated persons on wages to handle the work. Otherwise, a builder must rely on local trade’s people to perform their duties. And not always will a tradesman in say “tiling” or “plastering” offer a high standard of work as the builder would like. This can cause the builder much grief, especially if the builder has to ask a tradesman to repair or make good work that is substandard.

Whilst there are basic forms that must be completed by all trades persons that go some way to protect the builder from shoddy workmanship such as Minor Works Agreement, unless the builder is also a good project manager he can easily find his business in grave strive due to bad practice by others. Especially where the builder might already have paid for a service, only to find on closer inspection that the work needs further detailing. It can be very difficult to get a trades person back on site and disputes arise.

project management
Complete roofs where the roofer didn’t pay attention to detail.

Here are some examples of poor workmanship when installing a roof.  It doesn’t take much common sense to understand that the final finish is only as good as the preparation and attention to detail.

You might think that it is the roofers responsibility, and indeed it is.  But, the overall responsibility lies with the builder as it is his business name that covers all warranty for the building contract.  If the builder has been lucky enough to withholds funds from the roofer, then he has a leg to stand on to get the roofer back on site to rectify the problem. 

If the roofer has already been paid,  and the quality of his work isn’t so important to him, he might refuse to rectify the problem blaming everything else except his work for the fault.  The builder is then out of pocket as he needs to engage someone else to rectify the problem.

The moral of the story… no matter how good everyone thinks they are there is never enough checking and crossing all the “t’s” and dotting all the “I’s” because if the builder’s project management on any job is not good enough, or up to standard, that element in a builder’s contract can cost him his business.

Granny flat as a Investment?

granny flat as an investmentGranny Flat as an Investment

Granny flat as an investment scenario – you have a home on a good sized section. The backyard has a garden shed, a vegetable patch, the ‘adult’ children’s old trampoline, and a few trees … plus a fair expanse of lawn to mow.  Over coffee your friends suggests that you should look to capitalize on your back section and build a granny flat as an investment.   The idea had never actually occurred to you! 

But now the seed is planted and you find yourself thinking about all kinds of ways to go about it and how much money you could make from the investment. You start to feel enthusiastic and motivated, and you head home that afternoon and start cleaning up the backyard to get a better idea of size. You invite a few mates over and over a few beers start to discuss the pros and cons of building your granny flat as an investment idea.   Sometimes that’s all it takes to make your day seem so much brighter …

Local council guidelines generally follow these guidelines:

  • A granny flat is defined as a secondary dwelling and when constructing in the backyard, there are regulations.
  • A secondary dwelling is a building in addition to the primary home. As a rule, a granny flat cannot be built on any land that is unoccupied, classified as industrial or commercial.
  • A granny flat must be self-contained which means that it requires a separate entrance as well as separate toilet, bathroom, bedrooms and living and cooking utilities. The exception to the rule is that it does not require separate parking.
  • Only one granny flat is permitted on any single residential property.
  • Granny flats are only able to be erected on residential zoned property.
  • If you are planning to build a granny flat, you must also be the owner of the primary dwelling.
  • The granny flat must not take up any more space than the maximum allowed.
  • Normally, a granny flat should only have 60 metres of living space and around 12 square metres of outdoor area or patio. Again, these regulations can vary depending on your local council.
  • Granny flats cannot be erected on strata title, nor can they stand on subdivided or community title property.

The Nova Group are the granny flat experts in QLD.  Talk to them about your project on 07 3385 0698. 

Retirement Living Choices

retirement living choices

Retirement Living Choices

Until now, one of the major options for seniors and the Australian aged care sector in general who are looking to downsize their living style has been centred around retirement living choices. 

Across the country there is continued growth for retirement homes and residential care centres.  They seem to pop up from nowhere.  However, for many seniors the idea of selling the family home and moving into a retirement home is not an option due to the high ongoing costs and more often limited availability.  

The concept of the retirement village is a good one for many reasons, not least being that most of the residents are around the same age group, there are weekly activities for amusement and a gated environment for security.   These are lifestyle luxuries that come at a price.  In fact, it almost seems ludicrous that the family home gets sold because it is too big and all the funds go back into brick and mortar. 

What is starting to make a difference for seniors looking to downsize, is the resurgence of the granny flat.  Modern living with all the necessary comforts  at an affordable price.  In fact, when you compare the costs associated to build a granny flat either as a stand alone or as an extension to an existing house, they are nothing in comparison to the benefits.  Being able to convert a dead space in the backyard into an alive living space is nothing short of miraculous not to forget that you can not buy a one or two bedroom house anywhere for the same price as a granny flat. 

This is where a wonderful client Maureen found herself.  Having recently lost her husband where two pensions were being used to offset the rent of a room in a retirement village, all of a sudden the room space didn’t change but her financial circumstances did.  She was having to continue to pay the same sum whether she lived alone or shared the one bedroom apartment with someone.

She calculated that to continue to rent a room in a retirement village complex her funds would be exhausted within a matter of years leaving her with no money, especially if she required high care.  She approached Nova Design to see if we were able to create a small extension to her daughter’s house in Queensland Australia.   Barely 7 weeks later, she had moved into her new abode with the comforting factor of less expense and peace of mind to having the family close at hand. 

The pictures reflect the small area, and start of construction and the final to construction.

If you are in the process of deciding whether you are looking to buy into a retirement style environment, or would like more information on granny flats, then the Nova Design Group awaits your call. (07) 3385 0698.


Owner build your own granny flat

D.I.Y. Granny Flats

D.I.Y. Granny Glats – can you save money?

There are many aspects to building your own small backyard granny flat that will save you money, providing you have the time and some basic building industry skills. 

“Time” and “experience” are often factors that are rarely taken into consideration when weighing up the pros and cons.  Where a simple job that someone does day in and day out can take a day to complete, it might take an owner builder 3 days because you lack the experience. 

Yet, by the time you have completed the job you now have the experience and have saved yourself money. 

Having some kind of industry hands-on experience is helpful.  What is also important is to be able to administrate the process so that the process flows.  The Nova Group are always on hand to providing advice and encouragement for our owner builders.

What is of great benefit to an owner builder is that for each of the jobs that require professional trades people such as the electrical and plumbing, you can hold discussions and get as many quotes as necessary until you make a decision as to who is going to provide you with the best outcome. 

Using unlicensed trades people might severely penalize you and cost you dearly in the long run, so whilst you might pay a little more for a licensed contractor, this should go a long way to give you peace of mind and they should provide some kind of warranty.

Imagination and creativity go hand in hand as well. A design on paper is only that. What makes a granny flat look inviting and interesting is the final touches. Whether that is in the kind of materials you use, or how you landscape and choose the paint colour so that it has some continuity with the surrounding vegetation.

So, when you add everything up the cost of D.I.Y. Granny Flats will save you some money.

Granny flat process

Granny flats Brisbane
Benefits outweigh the cost for Australian granny flats small homes

 Granny Flat Process

What is involved in the granny flat process?   If you have been doing research about building a small home in the back yard to house a loved one, you are probably wondering why they have become so expensive over the years!

The reason for this is that you are not erecting a shack out the back or a garden shed, you are going to  have a Class 1 building built and a Class 1 building has the same requirements as a normal house.  It will be well insulated, it contains the same building materials and the same manpower required as if building a house.

And in fact, when building a small home, it is more expensive than to build a large home!  All the costs for the services and the labour are the same, the only difference in general is the floor area.

We have found that many clients find it hard to get their head around the cost to build a one or two bedroom small home in the back yard even although we attempt to ask them what they could expect to pay for a 2 bedroom house in today’s market.  In order to make it more simplified we have outlined some of the complexities and challenges HERE.

The Nova Group are seasoned designers and builders of comfortable granny flats.  We have all the experience and know how to ensure that the new home you intend to build will be comfortable and fit into the existing environment.  Call us today (07) 3385 0698

Thinking of downsizing?

Brisbane granny flats priced right
Brisbane granny flats by Nova Design 07 3385 0698

Thinking of downsizing?

There are many good reasons to consider downsizing your home. Maybe you’ve just retired from your job or your family home is becoming too hard to maintain.  You don’t have the same amount of energy anymore!

At some point in our life downsizing isn’t only a good idea it is necessary.  It is a positive aspect as all changes are and it is also a daunting thought; having to pack up a lifetime of mementos and possessions.  Sometimes just thinking about packing up and what needs to be sold is enough to think, let me wait until next year!

Well guess what?  Next year is just around the corner and before contemplating the move many other aspects of the process need to be considered such as real estate agents, solicitors, financing etc. 

This can be a great time when family comes into its own.  A time when sons and daughters can be proactively involved to lend a hand and be close by to help make those decisions easier and lighter.

It’s a time when younger family members actually feel useful.  For most of us in the mature age group, we have battled it out for years having to make challenging decisions on our own and sometimes handing over the reigns to allow loved ones in to assist us can be difficult.  But one thing is for sure, everyone of us likes to be in a position of being useful to someone else.

Now is the time to contact (07) 3385 0698 and engage the Nova Group if a granny flat is what you are thinking about.  Not only do they have standard floor plans that can be modified to suit your lifestyle, they will also custom design something to suit any block of land.  With over 40 years of building design experience one and two bedroom small home projects is what they do best.

Concrete slab design

waffle pod construction for granny flats
Waffle pod construction

Concrete Slab Design

Concrete slab design and the debate over waffle pods versus concrete slab and footings. 

I have been asked many times what is my opinion on standard footings and Waffle Pods footings as to which is better. In my opinion, the truth is that it’s not the system or definition, but rather how experienced is the contractor is who will do the concrete work and also how experienced and good is the builder.

There will be just as many builders who will argue for waffle pods and those for footing and slabs.  Generally, the decision is based more on what a builder is used to.  If a builder has only ever used one system and was shown good merit as to why the alternative system is better in some way, there will be strong opposition and reluctance to change.   So, it really does depend on the builder and his willingness to stayed informed and abreast of systems.

Consumers are advised to do their due diligence and inform themselves of different aspects to a build rather than to rely on the builder.  In most cases of course, the consumer might feel that it is not there responsibility to learn about the different building techniques.  But as the saying goes, it is better to be informed. 

Engineering is an important part of the footings design process where a certified engineer will test the soil of the ground to determine the right design aspects such as concrete thickness. The builder and concrete contractor are then bound to build to that engineering design.

Theses days with a registered Certifier inspecting building work once the concrete has been poured, it is safer than ever to get it right from the beginning.

In reality both types of foundations are open to failure if they’re not done properly, and the responsibility for ensuring that it is done properly comes down to the person doing the certification and the building inspectors.

I hear some strange stories especially form misinformed people that waffle pods are more susceptible to termites and rodents than ordinary footings. That is just sheer ignorance just like saying that daylight saving fade the curtains!

Both types of footings are concrete, both of them have penetrations for pipes, so they both require the same amount of diligence installing with termite treatments.

I do not believe that homes built with waffle pods are a substandard or have any problems long term if the work is done well.

If any of these slabs are failing, it is due to poor workmanship and bad supervision, or a builder taking shortcuts to save costs and consequently will  destroy any job.

 Michael King – Designer

Council Approval

Council Approval

Brisbane Council ApprovalsThe Council approval process to gain a building permit to build a granny flat takes time and NDG normally allows up to 1 month.  The good news however is that the client leaves this process in the capable hands of the Nova Design Group.

Councils used to be directly involved however fortunately for builders, we now work through a registered Certifier making the job much smoother and easier.   That is said with tongue in cheek because Councils were known for being hard to get hold of and the time they took to approve an application was a long process.     

Most Certifiers keep themselves abreast of any new changes to legislation so they know exactly what Council need for the application submission process. 

Different reports are required because not all blocks of land are the same in soil types and sizes.  Each Council has its own set of regulations that need to be adhered to.  An example of this might be that the Logan City Council require that the granny flat must be located at the rear of the existing house, with no view from the street front, whereas the Brisbane City Council do not have the same rule.

It is the builder who gathers all the information and submits to the Certifier.  A major part of the process is the working drawings.   These need to be absolutely accurate not only in relation to the floor plan design, but more importantly to the position on the block and the designer must have a broad comprehension of what is required. 

This is where award winning building designer Michael King with 40+ years in design and project management experience ensures all the “i’s” are dotted and the “t’s” crossed.

A footing design is critical as are all the plumbing aspects and an electrical floor plan layout.  As the build is progressing it is the job of the Certifier to inspect and approve the work.  It is  a good measure for trades people like the carpenter, concreter and the like to know that their work is going to be checked.

In some instances where the block is small or there are other irregularities that fall outside of the normal scope a DA (Development Application) is required.  This is submitted independent to the Approval process and the Approval process cannot go ahead until the DA has been approved.

Nova Design Granny Flats are experts in designing of 1 and 2 bedroom granny flats small dwellings.  Be sure to call to make an appointment to visit their office.

Granny Flat Investment

Granny Flat Investment

granny flats for investors
Granny flat investment opportunities

A Brisbane granny flat investment is a low cost method to maximize the total value and profitability of your property; making any residential property more inviting to the larger family and also investors. 

As builders, Nova Design Group receives a number of telephone calls from investors who are actively buying and/or want to build a granny flat investment especially where there is a property offering a generous land area and they are looking to double their earning capacity in rental returns as an option.

Are  you an investor taking advantage of extra income?

Everyone needs a home, a secure place to live in?  In Sydney, granny flats can be built so that people other than relatives can rent them out.  Same as in Ipswich, a granny flat can be built for renting.

But, what if you live in Brisbane and have a property with enough backyard space for  a granny flat?  You are thinking to build a granny flat to house one of your relatives, a son or daughter. 

To cover your costs, that relative, son or daughter will be paying you rent to in the granny flat which in turn makes you an investor. 

Alternatively, you might like the new two bedroom granny flat so much, that you decide to move in and to rent your house.  Either way, it still makes you an investor.  

Granny flats designed by the Nova Group can suit any backyard landscape.  Their granny flat designs can be on built on sloping  ground and/or amended to suit the area.  

You can be sure of adding value to your property with a granny flat by the Nova Group.  Do the sums, the investment is well worth the exercise.

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