Building a granny annexe - what to consider

Family meal

A granny annexe is a great way to keep your family close by, and gives all generations the opportunity to spend time with each other and help each other out. There are many things to consider before taking the plunge though, so it's important for both parties to think it all through.

Think practically
There are several ways in which you can accommodate parents, whether that be a self-contained flat within your own home, a converted or newly built extension, or a standalone property in the garden. The chances are that you'll already have an idea of what might work best, particularly if you have a garage, attached or detached, or an outhouse that is ripe for conversion. Do think carefully about both the cost and the practicalities, however. For instance, a separate annex might work best if you both like your own space, while an attached conversion or extension could be the better option if your parent or parents require more care from yourself.

Planning permission
Whatever you choose to do, it's likely that you'll need to get planning permission if you are converting or building an annexe or granny flat. Remember that any garden building or outhouse that is going to be slept in will require planning permission, so do your homework before you start the process of conversion. If you're struggling to get the required permission, you may want to consider having your parent or parents live within your own home (provided you have the space), and converting the garden building into a home office or studio complete with toilet and a small kitchen, which eases pressure on the main house and will provide an opportunity for personal space when necessary!

Weigh up the pros and cons
As much as you love your parents, and they you, living in such close proximity can still be stressful, and it's important to think of both the advantages and the disadvantages before you make this big decision. If your relative is struggling to cope in their own home and needs day-to-day care, both you and they will benefit from living close by or within the same property via an extension, allowing you to be on-hand quickly if necessary. Where there is no need for a high level of care though, you may prefer not to be living in each other's pockets, or on the other side of the coin, your relatives may feel isolated if they are living in a separate annexe. That said, many enjoy having someone nearby for company, and it can be wonderful for both grandparents and grandchildren to be so close.

Remember too that it could be a long-term commitment - if you want to move, finding another property that can accommodate you all is a much tougher proposition. The pros and cons will, of course, vary depending on your personal situation and relationship, but it's wise for both parties to sit down and think about what suits best before coming to an agreement about the best options for both.

Talk it through
Some families can live happily all together in the one house, but others need a much higher level of privacy. Once you've made the decision to build or convert an annexe, sit down together and lay down a few ground rules. You may not, for instance, like the idea of simply being able to walk in and out of each other's homes willy-nilly. Many find that setting aside specific evenings or times to enjoy a meal together or a coffee together works well, but it is often best to discuss each other's expectations as to privacy and together time. Provided you are all on the same page, it can be a wonderful way to stay close to your family, take care of each other, and enjoy each other's company.

Have you built or converted a granny annexe for your relatives? What advice would you give to others considering their options? Leave your comments below...
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