10 things to know when building a secondary residence

Father-daughter team explains what to look out for when building your granny flat / secondary residence.

Robert Valk and Jacqueline Valk have created an eBook to share their experience when building clients secondary residences / granny flats. 

There are 10 main things to watch out for, check on and be mindful of. Rob and Jacki state the best type of client/ customer is an educated one. Knowledge is power but it’s how you use it that matters. 

Here is a brief overview of the 10 things to know: 

1. know the rules and regulations

Knowing and understanding what you can and can’t do according to your councils regulations is the number 1 thing to learn about when contemplating the idea of a secondary residence. There are certain set back requirements for habitable dwellings as well as secondary residences. There are significant tree regulations and requirements to build around them as well as distances from. Also parklands rules regarding set backs. As you can see it’s hard to know all of the rules and also it can be hard to find them on the planning council/ government websites. We have broken them simply down for you HERE.

2. know the zoning of your block

The RZ zones are the residential zoning sectors of the ACT. It is what your land is allowed and not allowed to do. Each council in each area may have different meanings for their particular zoning and therefore to understand what is possible on your land is very important. You can find out your RZ zone if you’re in the ACT/ Canberra on ACTmapi by entering your address. Then you can check our blog HERE on RZ zones to see what you can do in your zone.   

3. know The disability requirements for all secondary residences

According to the ACT government the secondary residence policy was made to help aging in place and therefore needs to comply with certain disability requirements. Your secondary residence/ granny flat in the ACT must have just a small amount of changes to make it fully compliant for disability usage. Things like wider doors for wheelchairs, bathroom threshold levels are removed and turning circle spaces around at minimum one bedroom, bathroom, living and laundry. The kitchen also needs to be easily removed, disability compliant or signed off by a disability architect for future use. To find out more details on this HERE is a blog we created.

4. know the Costs involved

The sticker price is usually to get you through the door, the contract price is what you want to know. As well as any extras or exclusions you know will have to come up along the way. There are things like connection costs, approvals fees, consultant fees and extras that are all based upon each individual project. We have created a blog and it is in the eBook on all of the costs you should expect to get and add on to the base cost, unless otherwise specified. See that information HERE.

5. knowing good design

Design is one of those things it’s hard to tell on a plan but living in it can make such a difference to the usability. You can feel bad design when you walk into a house and it has poky spots, things that don’t really make sense or areas that feel like they haven’t been lived in or thought of properly. A great designed home or investment can make for a better sale or rental price. To find out what our architects and draftsmen (with over 40 years of experience in design) think good design is and how to achieve it read the article HERE.

6. Know the investment opportunities

Making a secondary residence an investment for another income stream or to boost the equity in your home, you should know the investment opportunities affiliated with your new project. It is best to talk to your accountant and financial planner to see if it will be the best option as an investment for your portfolio. Click HERE for more.


7. know the Lifestyle it can provide

There are multiple factors of lifestyle that a secondary residence can change. Things like a positively geared income stream, added security at your premises by having tenants in your backyard, more space for the family so everyone has their own space, downsizing can reduce stress, cleaning and maintenance and more. If you want to read the full chapter in the eBook HERE

8. Know the bank loan requirements

A common way to finance your secondary residence is through a home loan. You can directly transact with your bank or you can reach out to a mortgage broker for some help. HERE is a blog to share with you the requirements to apply for a home loan to finance your secondary residence or granny flat.

9. Know the competitors

We believe to always get 3 quotes that are contract price (or very close to) with known provisions and exclusions. Without this you cannot make an educated decision. It can take time and most companies charge for quotes but it is worth it with such a large project and can be costly if you choose the wrong company. There are horror stories in the building industry which you obviously want to avoid. You can certainly avoid a lot of this by following step 10.

10. trust your gut feeling

This is the most important one, make sure you trust not the sales person but the feeling in your gut or your heart that you know deep down you’d be treated right. Learn more about what are some of the feelings to look out for in the eBook HERE.


Read the Full E-Book here


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