Designing Accessible Granny Flats

Designing accessible granny flats creates living spaces suited to people with different mobility requirements. This includes elderly people as well as people with injuries or physical disabilities that require wheelchair use. Accessible granny flat designs incorporate features like wider hallways for wheelchairs to navigate in and handrails to provide extra support. Co-design is a good way to create living spaces that suit someone’s needs. 

What are granny flats?

Granny flats are ancillary dwellings built on the same land as an existing house. Granny flats have their own utilities and function independently of the house they are next to. They can be rented out for financial gain or utilised as hobby rooms or guest houses. Building a granny flat requires compliance with local council regulations.

Who can benefit from accessible granny flat design?

Accessible granny flat design benefits people with different mobility requirements. For some, there are home features that are essential for safe and effective navigation. Often this will be the elderly, and people with injuries or physical disabilities. Wheelchair users are one of the most important audiences for accessible granny flats. Designing and building an accessible granny flat makes a space more inclusive and accommodating. Remember, it’s not only for owners but also for guests.

Accessible granny flat design for the elderly

An accessible granny flat design makes life easier for elderly occupants. Granny flats are commonly used as the perfect home for the elderly parents of homeowners. A granny flat allows them their own space while having them nearby. Elderly people suffer losses to their mobility with age. This makes everyday tasks harder and leaves them more prone to accidents. Granny flats designed with this in mind create a safer and more accommodating living space.

Accessible granny flat design for wheelchair users

Accessible granny flat design greatly benefits wheelchair users. Many people with diminished mobility are wheelchair users. Wheelchair users require features in a granny flat to accommodate their unique needs. This includes making the granny flat suitable for permanent wheelchair use. It also involves making features such as sinks and light switches easy to access, such as installing them in a lower position. Custom granny flat designs are more suited to accommodating wheelchair users. 

Elderly woman sitting on yellow chair, wearing white shirt and reading a book

Accessible granny flat features

Even levels

Steps create issues with accessibility for many people. Elderly people may have trouble climbing steps –increasing the risk of accidents – and wheelchair users will be unable to push their wheelchairs up them. The most accessible design choice for this would be to minimise points of elevation throughout the granny flat. A one-story granny flat that doesn’t utilise many steps is ideal for this purpose.

Handrails

Handrails are beneficial as a source of physical stability. They are necessary for parts of the house like the toilet, the bathroom and the bedroom. They help less mobile people to transfer themselves in and out of these areas. They are beneficial throughout the house in case people need more physical support. They are particularly necessary if there are steps within or leading into the house. Handrails and the walls they are mounted on must be reinforced to be strong enough to handle the weight of a human being.

Height of features

Wheelchair users operate from a lower height than most people, so accessible granny flats need features adapted for this. Kitchen countertops, bathroom sinks, light switches and cabinets also need to be low enough to be easily accessible. Storage spaces throughout the granny flat must be in accessible locations, so closets and attics would not be viable. Wardrobes can be designed with pulldown features that allow drawers to be lowered.

Sufficient Space

Wheelchairs require greater width to comfortably move around and operate, especially in regards to turning. Given the limited size of a granny flat, it is important to take into account how wider hallways will affect the size and shape of other rooms. Open-plan designs are good for wheelchair users since they minimise unnecessary doors and entryways. 

Ramps

Wheelchairs are not suited to going over stairs, so ramps are necessary for moving to different levels. Ramps should be installed in any area of the granny flat that may be on a higher or lower level than an adjoining area. Frequently they will be adjoining the front porch to the entrance or the back entrance to the backyard. Ramps should be gradual and not overly steep. 

Suitable doors

Certain doors are much more accommodating to wheelchairs than others. Sliding doors are typically the best choice for convenient entry. Wide swinging doors also provide adequate space.

Suitable flooring

The choice of flooring is important for providing the highest level of accessibility. For wheelchair users, flooring that allows easy movement of wheels is important. Additionally, low-maintenance flooring with minimal cleaning requirements lessens the burden on occupants.

Non-slip surfaces

Some areas of the granny flat need to be non-slip surfaces. This relates primarily to the bathroom and kitchen. Showers and baths carry a high risk of slippage due to the high presence of water. This is especially dangerous for elderly occupants. The kitchen carries a higher risk of slipping due to water from the sink and liquids used for cooking. Including non-slip surfaces makes a safer environment and lowers the risk of an accident. 

Disabled Toilets

Disabled toilets have features that make them more suitable for someone with diminished mobility. These include handrails, non-slip tiles and lower heights. They also have tapware and levers designed for high manoeuvrablility. Having a disabled toilet as an ensuite is great for increasing accessibility. 

Seated showers

Seated showers make it easier for occupants to bathe. Whilst handrails can be held onto while standing up to shower, seated showers provide a more comfortable and less strenuous way for people to clean themselves. 

What is co-design?

Co-design is when the design of a property or dwelling is achieved through collaboration between the occupant and the designer. This is particularly important in cases where the occupants have physical disabilities. Using their experience, they’re able to create a home layout to best suit their mobility. Co-design has been heavily encouraged by the national disability insurance scheme (NDIS). Granny Flats WA specialises in building custom granny flats; we’ve delivered the dream home for a wide range of Western Australians, all with different needs and wants!

Who can design an accessible granny flat for me?

Granny Flats WA can help you design the accessible granny flat you’re looking for. As Perth’s premier builder of granny flats, we are specialist custom builders, but we also have a range of ready-made designs. We thrive on ensuring that our customers have all their needs met. 

Give us a ring or fill out the enquiry form for an obligation-free chat to see if we can help you.