Granny Flat Designs

Here you will learn about Granny flat designs; the different aspects of design, things needed to be considered, great ideas and handy tips, free software, and links to other useful and relevant content right down to the very bottom of this page. This information pertains to people buying a factory-built granny flat from a manufacturer and people wishing to build their own.

granny flats for grand parentsGranny flat designs are like all other home designs; they are a direct reflection of the owners. A representation of their lifestyle, taste and innovative ideas. There are absolutely no limitations to the style or size of a granny flat design, however the majority tend to be one or two bedroom with a full kitchen.

A granny flat can match the design of the primary residential building on a block of land if required, regardless of its style; whether it be country, colonial, federation, queenslander, modern, ranch or Victorian in design. However, the majority of Australian designs tend to be conservative in style and able to sit along side the majority of homes without looking out of place.

Home design encompasses the exterior look, together with the aesthetics and functionality of the interior. Building materials used for constructing Granny flats are identical to traditionally built homes built on-site.

Exterior Design

Cladding, painted timber, corrugated iron, natural timber, and brick are all materials used to build the exterior walls of granny flats.

Even a factory-built one can have the bricks laid once the home is placed on-site. Many of these small homes are made of low maintenance products so time is spent on enjoying life, instead of painting or maintaining the building.

DIY’ers can benefit greatly and learn more about timber and plastic cladding, renders, textures, moulds, columns, stone cladding, bricks, blocks, decorative concrete, pavers, roof tiles and roofing iron, decking, and guttering by checking out –

Exterior features give a home character. Granny flats, even though the following features may not be included in the manufacturers plans, are available upon request at additional cost. Such features include –

covered-in porch,Wheel chair in granny flats
balcony (for 2 storey or single storey suspended on hill),
iron fret work (verandah brackets),
fancy front entrance, and
the use of pillars.


The shape of the roof alone can give a plain home more style. Wikipedia have a great resource explaining all the different roof shapes, click here.

The colour, texture, material and over all look come down to personal preference. A multi-angled roof is a more expensive proposition, however the look may be worth the extra expense. And a finial, or two, can add to the finishing touch.

For some very informative websites on roofing products and guttering options, go to –


Again, for the ‘do-it-yourself builder’ and people buying from a manufacturer that want to change the door, selecting one for the main entrance is either going to be a plain and practical choice or a well thought out decision which says a lot about the occupants.

Granny flats with light doors and flyscreensThere is a plethora of doors on the market ranging from laminated, solid timber, glass, foil, steel, feature panels, series doors, bi-fold, aluminium, traditional entry, french, concertina, sliding doors and so on (don’t forget fly-screens). Because of the vast array of choices available in Australia, it is best to visit the manufacturers websites and browse at leisure. The main ones are –


There are a miriad of windows available for DIY’ers. Extensive selections from aluminium and PVC to solid wood. Many designs and styles giving choices of colours and model combinations.

Double glazed windows regulate the inside temperature by providing protection from the extreme temperatures of winter and summer, thus reducing power costs associated with heating and cooling during these times. Also, double glazing reduces outside noise and is particularly helpful in houses beside or close to motorways, busy suburban areas, near schools or airports, etc.

Window designs and styles include –

double hung,
louvre, and

Some websites worthy of investigation are –


Consideration should also be given to the benefits of skylights. Skylights can be a feature of a home as well as a very functional element that provides natural light to darker rooms or rooms without windows; like a pantry.

Skylights bright up granny flatsSkylights range from a common dome to multiple long glass rectangles that throw interesting light patterns against plain walls during the day. Skylights can not be opened, however skywindows can be opened to optimise natural cross ventilation either manually or electrically. Skylights and skywindows can also be custom-made and elaborate for a price. For very informative brochures and content which explain the choices available, visit –


Colour can also play an integral part in the style and design of the small home. Any good paint centre will be able to advise of colours that will bring out the features of the building. An exceptionally useful tool for looking at colours on your prospective small home is Dulux’s My Colour Visualiser. Two other websites to learn more about colour are Wattyl, and Taubmans.

A colourist (or colour consultant) can be worth their weight in gold by exposing any new home owner to colour combinations that will lift the entire home, inside and out, to an entirely new level. Any reputable paintshop will have access to a colourist; via their paint suppliers in most instances.

Interior Design

Often, just a wise use of space can dictate the appeal of a home inside. However, the two most common elements of a home’s interior appeal are colour (see ‘colour’ section, above) and natural light (see ‘windows’ section, above).

For inspirational designs and innovative or practical ideas –

Search Google Images for pictures (using keywords ‘granny flat designs’, ‘granny flat interior designs’, ‘small home interior designs’, ‘practical home ideas’, and so on)

Search each of the 350+ manufacturers designs from the Manufacturer Directory.

Subscribe to house magazines.

Although a heat-pump is a very economical way to heat a home, a small fireplace can be installed in a granny flat.


Most ceilings in granny flats tend to be painted plasterboard as the small area will not lend itself to elaborate deigns, however, exposed beams can be a feature for those that like the warmth of timber.


Colour is the main element, whether it be painted, wallpapered, or plastered to create texture, highlighted with a dado-frieze or half/half combinations; like timber (on the bottom) and wallpaper/paint (on the top).

For great ideas and inspiration, go to –

Wallpapering Granny Flats and small


Many small homes still have a tiled or vinyl area at the entrance leading to carpet. Some granny flats are tiled throughout in the more northern States, whereas Tasmania and cooler areas predominantly have carpet throughout for warmth; except for toilets, kitchen and bathroom areas which are either tiled or vinyl.

Flooring is personal preference and some people prefer timber flooring above all else. Timber flooring, tiles and vinyl are easy to clean and may need a quick broom run over them daily. Tiles may be a bad idea for elderly people with poor balance, as falls on tiles have the capacity to increase injury. However tiles are wonderfully cool in the summer and very attractive.

Carpets are fabulously warm, however they do require a frequent vacuum; which may be heavy for elderly occupants and not recommended for bad asthmatics.

For a list of flooring suppliers, visit (Note: Some of these are manufacturers and they do not sell direct to the public but the information learnt from these websites is worth it) – warmth in Granny Flat designs with carpet


In practical terms, lighting is an integral part of a safe home. By having the entire home well lit, elderly occupants can navigate their way around the home safely. Designing a granny flat so light switches are within easy reach is essential and dual-switches by the bed prevent an elderly person turning off the bedroom light at the doorway and fumbling through the dark to the bed.

Night-lights are very helpful and should be considered. If the granny flat is dimly lit at night, at least the occupant/s can keep their bearings and make it safety to the toilet during the night.

Depending on the lifestyle of the occupants, reading lights maybe a must.

All granny flat designs should include security lightingAs an aesthetic feature, lighting hidden under the pelmet may be an alternative to standard central lighting options to give a soft ambience. Also, strip-lighting underneath cupboards above the kickboard have become popular also, but nothing has surpassed the humble 100watt bulb in a central area of the ceiling. In saying that, the use of energy efficient globes has risen substantially.

Also, security lights upon entry and exit to a home ensures safer passage and hopefully deters people who would like to break in.

Leading lighting stores online give examples of what is in store –

Granny Flat Plans

Once the local Council stated a granny flat can be built on a property, then one of the most exciting parts is designing a floor plan.

If you are utilising a floor plan from a manufacturer, you can utilise floor plan software like (which has a free basic version) to try different ideas and make small changes to a design so it becomes customised to exactly what is desired. Or, this free software is an ideal tool for DIY – Granny Flat design if starting from scratch, as ideas collected over the years can be blended to become the perfect floor plan and subsequent design of a much awaited dream home.

For more in depth information, click granny flat plans.


Never forget the two most important places in a home that determined a large portion of the value are the kitchen and the bathroom in granny flat designs.

Not too long ago, if a kitchen design was required then an architect or interior designer would have to be enlisted at some expense. Now software is available to use at home, enabling remodelling and frequent changes to the design at leisure; and in some cases the software is free.

Kitchen floor plans in Granny Flat DesignsAlthough is a good free option, it may not have the detail you want. Try it out. Google has a free software called Google SketchUp, which appears to be okay, too. is another freebie for consideration. However, if you want in depth detail, measurements and the ability to send kitchen designs in 2D, 3D, construction drawings and other digital mediums, you will have to pay for something like Google’s SketchUp Pro.

TIP: If using Google’s Sketchup software, use designs which other people have previously built. Go to Google’s 3D Warehouse, where users of the software have uploaded their kitchen designs. The designs are then available to be changed to suit once SketchUp is installed.

Some absolutely great designs can be found with really innovative ideas and fantastic use of space.

Do yourself a favour and read the 39 Essential Guidelines of Kitchen Design written by Kevin Sorby from Kevin’s website is the quintessential ‘One-Stop Shop’ for kitchen information and the place to find sensational ideas.


As mentioned before, the kitchen and the bathroom are the most important areas of the house.

Caroma has been an Australian leader in bathroom design for years and they have a very comprehensive website at which is full of ideas.

Reece have also been in the Australian bathroom design arena for years and they have a very handy bathroom planner on their website called, which is full of beautiful bathware, fixtures and ideas.

An American website called does have a very comprehensive guide outlining ‘The Rules To Good Bathroom Design‘, however the measurements, products and standards are not Australian, but do give a great illustration of functionality and things to keep in mind when designing a bathroom. Another American website worthy of checking out is


There are two main frame structures to choose from in a design; steel and timber.

Quick Guide to Steel frames –

100% termite proof,
Won’t warp, shrink or sag,
Some steel frames come with a 50 year guarantee,
Good value for money,
Steel frames do not pop, creak or groan any more than timber frames when temperatures change,
Easy to construct, and
High strength galvanised steel.

For excellent information regarding steel framing and using steel for flooring, walls, guttering and roofing, visit Blue Scope Steel to read case studies, view videos and installation manuals and more in this great resource.

Quick Guide to Timber Frames –

Timber is treated with a preservative to improve resistance against fungi and insects,
Good value for money,
Timber frames do not pop, creak or groan any more than steel frames when temperatures change,
Easy to construct, and
High Strength.

For excellent information regarding timber framing and using timber for flooring, walls, guttering and roofing, visit to read in-depth about the use of timber in home design. This website is published by the Timber Development Association of NSW and represents all segments of the timber industry; a very useful resource.

Utilities for Granny Flats

When creating granny flat designs, bare in mind the utilities. The placement of powerGranny flat designs and utilities connections sockets, internet connections, light switches and the lights themselves. Think about ‘how’ the room will be used. Too many times people move into their new home and regret not putting in extra power sockets in the kitchen or bathroom. Thinking about the placement of furniture can also help decide where power, internet and switches go in a room. Try using’s free software to help.

TIP: Designs with the water facilities at one end of the building save costs; because of the expense of running piping from one end of the home to the other (materials and labour) and the future expense of having hot water taps further away from the water heating cylinder.

For more information and handy tips when connecting to utilities (click each utility below to learn more) –

gas, and

Council Approval for Granny Flats

The very first thing to be done when thinking about having a granny flat put on a property is to visit the Planning Department at the Local Council which has jurisdiction over the vacant land or residential property in question.

Some States of Australia have made it a lot easier for families to build a granny flat because of the aging population and the need to relieve the pressure on the Health-Care system. An example is NSW, where a policy was passed allowing property owners of land more that 450sqm and a 12 meter plus frontage to be allowed to seek approval for a small secondary dwelling. The NSW Dept of Planning has a Fact Sheet, which outlines what is required to

A. Convert part of an existing home into a fully self-contained granny flat.

B. Build a fully self-contained extension to an existing home.

C. Build a detached fully-self-contained granny flat.

In some cases, people choose to have a granny flat as the only house on a small block of land. A Planning Department will be able to provide details of any covenants which may restrict the minimum size of a dwelling and dictate the design’s type of construction and/or materials to be used when building the home.

TIP: When talking to a person within any Planning Department, get their name so you can continue asking questions or getting clarification in the future; instead of having to explain your circumstances many times to others in larger council departments.

Sometimes granny flats are strictly prohibited. If this is the case, there is no point investigating any further.

Eco-friendly Granny Flats

No matter what the design, a granny flat can be environmentally friendly by including –

energy efficient ceiling and wall insulation,
300mm eaves (minimum),
utilise natural cross ventilation to reduce power consumption,
the use of energy efficient light globes,
water restricted toilets, shower heads and taps with a minimum 4 star rating,
Double glazed windows to reduce heating and cooling costs,
the installation of a rain water tank to capture water for use in the toilet, washing machine and on the garden,
the installation of solar panels,
the installation of a grey water system,
optimising light and shade with window orientation,
the use of natural heating and cooling,
thermal comfort,
protection from prevailing winds,
use of cross ventilation,
optimum use of the building and site elevation,
the view, and
double glazing of windows to protect from heat loss and sound reduction.

Solar Systems

granny flat designs that include solarSolar systems give home owners an opportunity to lower their power costs by using this more sustainable power source from the sun. Also, solar power can provide passive income for those living in areas where excess power can be fed back into the grid. The Australian Government has provided financial incentives to encourage home owners to invest and support the solar energy industry by way of a credits (until 2013); for more information, see Department of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency. do a good job of explaining solar power and all the options; including a calculator to determine what solar system would best suit your existing electricity consumption and needs. Other websites with good information are –

Disabled Facilities

Many designs have to cater to people with specific needs; especially those with disabilities. A good design will enable disabled residents to have a practical home which will increase their mobility and standard of living.

Some disabled facilities and things to be considered in the design stage are –

Access to the home –

Is a ramp required? Is it an easy short slope and does it have sides that are wide enough so a wheelchair will not slide off? Does the surface have enough grip?
Is the top of each individual step deep, so users can stop to catch their breath? Are there hand rails on both sides?
Is the entrance to the home protected from the rain; as accidents are more likely to occur when a person is in a rush.
Are all entrances well lit?

Inside the home –

Are light switches, thermostat controls, internet junctions, telephone jacks and power points easily accessible by a person sitting in a wheelchair?
Can any table or bench be utilised by a person in a wheelchair; can they position their wheelchair under them?
If the toilet is separate, is there a hand basin installed to save travel to and from the bathroom to wash hands?
Are duress alarms installed throughout the home, including the toilets and bathrooms?
Are all the doorways wide enough for a wheelchair and are the doors lightweight?
Are there reinforced walls in the toilet and bathroom walls for grab-rails to be installed?
Can the kitchen bench and oven be used by a person sitting in a wheelchair?
Can the windows be opened and closed by a disabled person?
Can the disabled tenant reach the microwave safety?
Are fittings and fixtures easy to use and accessible?
Are two-way light switches throughout the home?
Are the fridge and freezer low enough?Granny flats should consider wheel chair access
Is the floor in the bathroom non-slip?
Is storage at an appropriate height?
Are mirrors low enough?

TIPS: Install a front load washing machine.

For more information on disabled facilities; click disabled design.

Transporting a Granny Flat

If a manufacturer has built a granny flat, they will design it in easily transportable sections. These pieces, commonly referred to as modules, are approximately 3 to 4.5 meters wide and normally 8 -14 meters long. Most small dwellings are transported in a single shipment, whilst a larger granny flat may be split into 2 modules to make it easier for transportation.

Transportable granny flats are specifically designed to cope with the stress and strain of being freighted to the site for positioning. The design is strengthened and a more heavy duty construction; sufficiently to move long distance and over gravel roads. Most manufacturers have a free delivery zone which is usually between 100 – 200 kilometres from the factory.

Transporting a used granny flat can be done easily by enlisting a reputable house removal company to relocate the small dwelling.

For example: Relocating a granny flat from a permanent caravan site to a residential backyard in suburbia. Your appointed house removalist will have the ability to hydraulically or manually jack the building up, back a flat deck truck’s trailer underneath and lower it onto the deck, if small enough to go in one piece. If it is a larger granny flat, any reputable house removalist will have ample knowledge of house designs and structures enabling them to split the home in specific places so it can be transported to the new location easily and without any structural damage. A two module dwelling can then be rejoined on-site.

There are almost 400 granny flat builders in Australia providing fantastic designs to choose from. All designs can be modified so the home has exactly what you imaged it would have.

Select granny flat prices to learn more about the costs involved.

Click <granny flats manufacturers directory> for a copy of the listing.

There may still be things you haven’t thought of regarding granny flat designs! Go to granny flats top 10 tips and visit the Granny Flats Main Page.