If you’re planning on building a backyard guesthouse—or “granny flat” as they say in Australia—take a page out of this Australian mom's book and hire a company to build it. The investment, she found, is well worth it.
Ira Bazika is a loving single mom with two adult children—who have flown the coop. Two years ago she bought a house intending to turn it into an investment down the road. She decided to buy an older home rather than a new one in order to get a property with more land and potential for renovation. She also wanted to invest in a property that could provide extra income to pay off her mortgage.
Bazika does not consider herself D.I.Y savvy, so she enlisted the expertise of In House Granny Flats, a company based in Sydney, Australia. "From the obligation-free on-site consultation through to design, approvals, and construction, it was easy," she said. According to Bazika, the staff—including builders, excavators, designers, engineers, bricklayers, electricians, and project managers—was indispensable during the process. Her only worry was what finish the kitchen countertops should have.
"They recommended a few designs that suit the property, the area, and the size of land," Bazika says. It's important to note the size of the space you have to work with, as well as how it will affect the look of the main house. Bazika chose a similar color brick and roofing to the main house as she did not want the extra structure to look out of place on the property.
From there, she was given an estimated price and choices—many of them. According to Bazika, she was able to choose the kitchen layout, the flooring, paintwork, and more. "It was like shopping from a catalog," she said. The company presented a selection of designs to choose from, which helped her decide the best layout.
Once she had the design, Bazika sought approval from the local council (this is compulsory in Australia—check your local government regulations before you start a project), then signed a Fair Trading Home Building contract and organized her home owner's warranty.
A few days later, her project was scheduled: The company ordered the materials and began excavation. "Their promise is to build a flat in 12-16 weeks," says Bazika. Her granny flat was finished in 12 weeks, but it wasn't as smooth sailing as she expected—as with any construction project, unforeseen situations are bound to arise.
During the excavation process, the builders discovered Bazika's stormwater fell short of the requirement to reach the road. This ended up costing her more than expected as the excavators had to put in extra time and work to meet the requirement.
Even with hiccups along the way, Bazika said if the opportunity arose again, she would use a company to build a granny flat. "The return is much higher than investing in a unit as granny flats can be much cheaper and rental income is greater," she says. According to Bazika, once the granny flat was complete, the company combed through for one final inspection, testing appliances, electrical functions, and thorough cleanup, ensuring the flat was ready to welcome its new tenants.
All told, Bazika spent around $100,000 AUD (the equivalent of $68,000 USD) on the project, but she was able to double her income with Airbnb rentals. This example of smart living and viable investing is on the rise, especially among retired adults. As a single mom, Bazika found this type of investment more beneficial than maintaining an apartment unit. Not only is her granny flat profitable, but in the end, if she needs a second home for her family or friends, she has one ready to go.
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