But how exactly can you build a 'mini-home' (aka: granny flat) for (possibly) $0 in 3 years!?
Well, it's (almost) that simple. Let us explain how to get there.
Why should home owners and investors care about the new legislation for Granny Flats?
On Mon 26th Sept 2022, new (temporary) legislation came into effect by the Queensland Government that allows for granny flats (secondary dwellings) to be rented out to those other than those within your own household (as per the old legislation). Why is this of interest to every Qld home owner?
Because this means that you may now have an investment property right on your own current property! If you were thinking of or planning to buy an investment unit or home, you can now enter property investment market for the minimum possible $ outlay of the cost of a granny flat!
Qld Government Legislation changes for Granny Flats:
The reason given by Qld Gov for this change is: "To provide people with more access to housing options, restrictions on who can live in secondary dwellings will no longer apply across Queensland and will enable homeowners to rent out secondary dwellings, such as granny flats, to anyone." *
They also clarify this change with a little more detail:
"Any new secondary dwelling will be able to be rented to anyone, regardless of whether they are related to the occupants of the primary dwelling. This means more options for renters, and provides the opportunity for owners to receive additional income from renting their secondary dwelling.
For any new secondary dwelling, you will still need to speak with your council to understand if you need development approval for a secondary dwelling as this has not changed.
Any new secondary dwelling will still require building approval." *
How to own an investment property for FREE! (basically)
So, let's get to the best part. How to own an investment property for (pretty much) $0?
Consider this (excuse the simplistic Grade 1 math for the sake of the conceptualisation):
- You invest $55,000 (a designer granny flat for your property designed by us), into a studio-style or one-bedroom granny flat in your backyard in a prime location - for example, you may be within 5kms of Brisbane City CBD, close to a university, college or large shopping center/transport network etc. (A highly specific example we know but stay with us...)
- You rent this out to a single professional, young/down-sizing couple or small family for say $350/wk, over the next 3 years (that the legislation applies for),
- $ Outlay (cost to you) = $55k,
- $ Income (from rent) = $54.6k.
- OR, Build a two-bedroom mini-home with Patio and Carport and its basically a small house, resulting in an even stronger rental return/week, resulting in proportionally even better ROI (return on investment) per m2 than the studio/1bed option!
- After this initial investment and 3 years or more leasing it out, the granny flat will eventually pay for itself, and you can choose to either continue to rent it out, use it for your own studio, growing teenage kids recreation space, or a fancy home office.
- In our opinion, this could beat buying a 3 bed investment home in the 'burbs, renting for the same price, but has you pouring cash out with rates, utilities, building maintenance, property management fees etc...
Hang on a minute! What happens after the 3 years?
Now, you may be thinking, this legislation relaxation only applies for next 3 years. What happens after that? Good question. Well, the way we see it, the Queensland Government has 3 options:
- Force property owners to kick tenants out of their affordable accomodation if they are not members of the same household as the main house, OR
- Give a 'grace period' for tenants that are not members of the same household to move out, OR
- Extend the relaxation of the rule, or make it into permanent state legislation.
We don't think that option 1 or 2 would be in the best assumed personal interests of political self-preservation, therefore we believe option 3 may be the most likely option (don't hold us to it though, government has proven to be mighty unpredictable at times!).
What you must know
After consulting over the phone with a representative of Brisbane City Council's (BCC) Town Planning & Development department, we were informed that, although the new legislation has been announced and instituted by the Queensland Government at the state level, the change must be announced and instituted by each local government. Until then, the current planning legislation still applies for Brisbane. Although some Qld council's have already implemented the change so we strongly believe it is imminent.
Nothing to date has been announced from BCC in regards to the adoption of the new relaxation of legislation that we are aware of, however we are waiting with bated breath for an announcement (or quiet adoption) from BCC, and we will update this article when it is announced and instituted. Other councils' may have already introduced this legislation to their policies (eg. Sunshine Coast City Council). Contact your local council to check if they have incorporated this into their planning yet or not.
What else should you think about?
- Other approvals may be required for your specific property and planning constraints.
- Rates changes may apply depending on your local council. Contact them for info on this.
- Other building code requirements may also need to be met (fire-separation, sound transmission etc.)
- Check with your building certifier or town planner if your property is eligible to build a secondary dwelling and what approvals will be required for your property. We can refer you to a professional if necessary or arrange this for you if you are engaged with us for your design.
- Current building supply shortages and increased building and labour costs are not yet losing momentum, so keep that in mind also.
Does QDH offer 'design-and-build' services for Granny Flats & Mini-Homes?
We are building designers, so we design, plan and document your custom project with you. We have our previous projects plus a number of in-house QDH designer mini-homes for initial inspiration or a straight-up design solution for your convenience. We regularly partner with some fantastic custom new home and specialist renovation builders if it is a 'design-and-build' service you need. Just ask us about this service and we can explain what the 'design-and-construct' process looks like.
We also specialise in creating one-off, custom design solutions that fit you and your property's exact needs. So, whether it is a small lot, steep sloping site, build-over-sewer or any other challenges, we accept the challenge.
What you can do now
This may be one of the greatest investment opportunities for Queensland home owners in recent history. Just be aware that in some Qld council's, including Brisbane, the legislation change is not yet officially in play, however we expect it to be instituted in the near future. We will update this article when that occurs.
So, if you are considering entering the investment property market and you own your own home with some land, there are strong reasons why you may consider adding a granny flat to your property and investment planning now or in the near future.
If you have any questions, please send us an email. We'd love to hear from you. Or leave a comment below to let us know what you think about this!
Other sources for further information:
Qld Government Announcement
Master Builders Queensland media release
Local SEQ Council Granny Flat information:
Brisbane City Council Granny Flat Guidelines
Gold Coast City Plan (secondary dwellings)
Moreton Bay Regional Council Secondary Dwellings Info Sheet
Sunshine Coast Council - Secondary Dwelling Info Sheet (pdf) - SCC seems to be the only council in SEQ to have already incorporated this change into their information sheets and legislation. See the pdf for details.
Disclaimer: This article is written general in nature and does not constitute financial advice or take into account your individual circumstances. Consult with your accountant and/or financial planner, local government, town planner, building certifier and or other relevant consultants to professinal advice for your specific circumstances.