Renovation VS Secondary Residence?

Looking to renovate, extend or build a granny flat?

Many Aussies, with all that’s happening in the world right now, want to create an opportunity where they want to make their dream home or let their block can make money for them.

When investing further funds into your home, you want to make an informed and educated decision. After all, it’s the place where you spend a lot of your life and anything you do can cost a fair bit of hard earned money.

You usually know what is right for you and your gut feeling is what will usually make the decision for you, as long as it’s backed with a good builder or person behind what you’re purchasing.

A lot of  the questions we get are “should I renovate?” or “should I build a granny flat/ secondary residence?” It’s a tough choice and it can be different for each household and block. 

We highly recommend that you do thorough research on companies offering what you feel meets your needs. There are so many options available to you. It’s best practice to get 2-3 quotes that give you details of what you’re looking to do at a minimum. You will likely have to pay for detailed costs as it takes a lot to put together the inclusions and therefore a lot of builders who are trusted in the industry charge for that time. 

It really depends on your budget, preference, timing, living arrangements and your future goals. 

Here is some food for thought on the pros and cons when comparing a renovation to building a secondary residence.

Please note, we may be biased when it comes to secondary residents as its our business and we love them, but for a lot of people council regulations and plot sizes make this not an option and make renovating a great alternative. In either case we take great pride in what we do and can either help you directly by helping build your dream secondary residence or by recommending solutions for a renovation.

Benefits of a renovation:


Depending on existing structures that you have to work with, you can create an abundance of personalisation when you renovate. This can be exciting and just note, the more beautiful and unique the idea the more expensive. When talking to your architect or drafts person to make sure they have a good understanding of the costs to have your dream home and what you would need to sacrifice to get it within your budget. 

Increase home value

Most renovations, painting additions or extras; increase the value of your home from the bank’s perspective, you’ll want to get advice from an agent, broker and your bank about your situation.


Likely if you’re going to renovate there is a reason and it is primarily for additional space. Additional space can be in kitchens, bathrooms or living/dining. This has multiple benefits of adding value to the home, adding extra areas for family and also can make it feel like a more personalised home for you.

Less future maintenance costs

If you renovate soon, this means it could be less to maintain in the future. You can potentially fix issues that you didn’t realise needed to be fixed sooner rather than later if you don’t delay. It is always good to get a few costs from different builders and then discuss extending their maintenance period to 180 days rather then the standard 90 days. 

Potential cons to a renovation:

Finding somewhere else to live for the time of the renovation

Depending on what you’re looking to do but if a kitchen or a bathroom is touched you likely won’t want to live there, also do you want to be in the trades way when they turn up in the mornings?Another possible thing to think about is seeing the progress might not happen as quickly as you might think and therefore be disappointed each day instead of returning and seeing progress from the last time visited. You’ll also need to account for the cost involved to rent somewhere for the renovation period.

Costs can blow out

During a renovation and dealing with existing structures there are always surprises. Some might be small but some might be big and these are costs that no one can foresee when quoting. There will usually be provisions and exclusions in the contract to allow for this. This can blow the budget out and there isn’t a way of controlling this unfortunately, it’s more just hoping for the best.


The time it takes to renovate is usually unknown. When dealing with an existing structure it’s hard to give exact details but a good builder will be able to give some time frames but just understand it’s likely that the exact timeframe will be hard to determine. When a builder touches an existing structure he or she never knows what they will find and therefore will need to be creative to fix and diligent in knowing what the worst case could be, how to fix it and be communicative with the client about the timeframes. 

Benefits of a secondary residence:


What is exciting about companies that pre design plans is that they have the processes in place to make the build faster than if you would custom design and get it built by a home builder. Timeframes can vary depending on what you choose but for modular it can be  one-2 months, kit homes, 4-6 months and stick builds (from secondary residence/ granny flat companies) can be 3-6 months long. please note these are estimates based on our personal experiences

Increase home value

Like a renovation the value of your home will increase, most likely the secondary residence will have a higher cost than a renovation but it will also add a lot of value to your home. You cannot sell it separately but when selling your agent would advertise both properties together so a 3 bed home with a 2 bed granny flat would be advertised as a 5 bedroom home. Not to mention the possibility to rent out the space and make an income off of it.

More living space

Sometimes you need to work from home, let the kids have a seperate area or look after elderly parents,. in any of these situations having more space but close by can be an asset to the family and living situation. There are many options of what it can be used for but having additional living space can help mentally and physically. 

Potential cons to a secondary residence:

restrictions from local council/ gov

In ACT you’re allowed to build up to 90m2 as a secondary residence yet in NSW it is only 60m2. Having restrictions on what you can and can’t do in accordance with your council’s rules is something you’ll need to education yourself on or find someone that knows the rules in and out and pick their brain on even the smallest details.

Personalisation is restricted

A lot of granny flat/ secondary residence companies have set plans and designs in order to give potential customers accurate costs.this can also make the process faster than a standard company/ builder but will restrict what you can and cannot do. For example a heritage listed site would need a heritage architect to be involved in the process and unlikely going to be a design that is picked from a website, it will need to match the main residence almost exactly.

Please note this information is general in nature and you should seek your own professional advice. Written by Lisa, Jacki & edited by Jack from the team at The Pod Canberra.

If you would like to contact us, please do so by calling us on 1300 843 763 or by entering your contact information on our homepage and we will get back to you as soon as we can. We can even check out if a Pod can fit on your block without even visiting site. Find out how by going on our homepage

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