Build and design home in your garden Advice, Granny annexes Tips, Real Estate Best Practice

Build and design a home in your garden

13 Feb 2020

Is your elderly relative moving in? Build and design their own little home in your garden

Granny annexes are on the rise these days because they represent a cost-effective and creative way to care for your eldering relatives. The rising property prices in the UK, expensive care home fees, and the fact that grown children usually inherit their parents’ home, have all contributed to the rise of this trend.

In fact, data from the Valuation Office Agency points out that, only in England and Wales alone, there are almost 39.000 granny annexes, which represents a 16% increase compared to previous years. Thus, a growing number of families are opting to live with or literally next door to older relatives.

If you are thinking to do the same, why not building your elderly relatives their own “little home” in your garden?

Build and design a new home in your garden
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Get planning permission

Like it or not, you first need to start with the boring and not-so-easy part and that is getting planning permission or a Certificate of Lawfulness. Regardless of where you live, any additional building you are planning to construct on your property needs to be authorized by the Local Planning Authority.

However, don’t confuse planning permission with building regulations. For example, electrical safety is part of building regulations and you will need to have a qualified electrician signing off for it.

Moreover, if you don’t want for the whole getting a planning permission process to be even more stressful and complex, make sure that your granny annex project is neighbour-friendly. For example, depending on the overall height of your annex, a pitched roof may impact your neighbours which will lead to them making complaints and things even more complicated for you.

How to get planning permission from your LPA? You will have to submit an application that must include a statement of use which must show details such as who will be using the granny annex, the relationship of the user with you, and how the use of annex will meet all LPA policies.

Build a subordinate to the main house

We cannot emphasise this one enough but you need to make sure that the annex you build will be a subordinate to the main house. Why is that? Because in case the annex’s footprint will be bigger than the footprint of the main house, the LPA will give you a “not in a million years” answer.

What a subordinate mean? The LPA annex policy points out that the annex must have shared main facilities such as electricity, water, or sewerage with the main house. So, for example, if your existing fuse board or electric power supply is insufficient to run both the annex and the main house, you will need to upgrade it if you want to comply with all the requirements.

Next, once you get all the necessary documents, it is time to actually start building the annex. However, when you do that, you need to consider all the needs of your elderly relatives. The annex needs to be a bridge between independence and the provision of care. So, consider aspects such as how many rooms the annex should have, which architecture would be the best choice, or how to make the most out of its free space.

For example, for elderly people, who become less mobile, it can be difficult to climb stairs every day. So, when building the annex, you may want to avoid to include stairs into its architecture or to place the rooms with the most traffic upstairs.

Choose neutral colours

Once the annex is built, you need to design it in a way that will make your elderly relatives feel like home. And, as you may be guessing, you need to start with choosing the right colour pallet.

Granny annexes tend to have small and low-ceiling meaning that you need to shift your attention towards lighter and neutral colours when choosing the colour pallet. Light colours tend to make any room look and feel more spacious. So, if your granny annex has pretty small rooms, you may want to go for a neutral colour scheme.

However, despite what you may think, neutral colour doesn’t necessarily mean beige. You can also go for colours and shades such as white, light grey or cream. Light neutral colours will help you make the best out of the open plan living space, making it welcoming, relaxing, and peaceful.

Make the best out of the vertical space

Once again, the smaller nature of the granny annexes can pose a challenge when designing the rooms. You need to think about the most effective ways to make the best out of every corner of the rooms. So, the best advice we can give you is to make use of the vertical space of each room.

Annexes tend to have a cosy unique feeling and you wouldn’t want to lose that by filling the rooms with too many items that will make it look crowded. In fact, you can use the idea of a cosy space and create vertical projects to place stuff on the wall. For example, you can create a vertical garden inside the annex if your elderly relative loves plants. Or, you can consider shelving above doorways or use the space on the back of the door for storage. Another idea would be to add vertical space under the bed with risers.

Get creative with the storage

When it comes to saving floor space in an annex, you need to get creative with the storage solutions you choose. For example, instead of choosing the storage of a 3-drawer unit, you can go for a 6-drawer unit because it will provide more storage without taking up any more space. On the other hand you can always opt for a closeby storage. For example if you live in Wimbledon you will want the closest Self Storage in Wimbledon. Ideally one that is logistically better for you to have ease of access to, so every trip won’t feel like an epic quest.

Or, if the annex includes stairs, you can use the space under them as a storage space. Either way, keep in mind that you should avoid placing storage too high if your elderly relative is unable to reach them easily.

Complete the look with decorations

There are dozens of ideas that you can use to complete the look of the annex and make it feel more like a home for your relative. You can, for example, add different accessories to add a style to the overall design. Or, you can use mirrors to make the rooms feel even more spacious. Moreover, since annex living is all about family, you can also use photo frames with your family’s best pictures to decorate the rooms.

Annexes are a great way to provide your eldering relatives with care while also making them feel independent and keeping your privacy as well. All that it takes to make them feel like they have their own home is to design the granny annex in a way that suits all their needs and personal taste.

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