Should I build a tiny home or a granny flat?

You should build a tiny home or a granny flat depending on which better suits your personal goals. Tiny homes provide a minimalistic, sustainable option for downsizing. They are very affordable to build, excellent for off-grid living and have the option of being mobile. Granny flats are ancillary dwellings, with comparatively more space and modern luxuries. They work well as rentals for property investors or areas to house family members.

What is a tiny home?

A tiny home is a small dwelling, typically around 37 square metres in size. Tiny homes are built with an emphasis on sustainability and efficient use of space. In recent years, tiny homes have become popular among people looking to downsize, live off the grid or reduce their carbon footprint. The definition of tiny home is fairly loose and generally tends to refer to small, movable homes.

Tiny home interior

The interior of a tiny home includes the same essential features as a full-sized house. The kitchen, bathroom, living area and bedroom are all snugly arranged in the dwelling. Given the limited space, tiny homes tend to incorporate creative storage solutions. Some of these include floating shelves, multipurpose furniture and storage spaces under stairs. In terms of layout, tiny homes often utilise verticality. They frequently have stairs or ladders leading to a loft area that contains a bed. This leaves more space on the ground floor for other furniture.

Building materials

A variety of materials are suitable for building a tiny home. Wood and steel are the two most popular options for the frame, whereas plywood and laminate are often used for the interior. But tiny homes don’t need to be built from scratch. Many people choose to get a head start in building by converting tiny homes from shipping containers or caravans. This lowers the cost of a tiny home as well as potentially shortening the time it takes to build one.

Fixed vs on wheels

The two main styles of tiny homes are fixed tiny homes and tiny homes on wheels. As the name suggests, a fixed tiny home stays in one place and functions like a house. Conversely, a tiny home on wheels is mobile and bears a closer resemblance to a caravan. The regulatory requirements will differ depending on the type you choose. Both types of tiny homes tend to incorporate eco-friendly features like solar panels and compost bins.

What are the differences between a granny flat and a tiny home?


The main differences between granny flats and tiny homes come from their size, purpose and legal classification. While size limitations vary by state, granny flats are generally between 30 and 70 square metres in size. Tiny homes, on the other hand, are usually a similar size to very small granny flats. This means they’re less spacious and not as suitable to a conventional lifestyle.

The two dwelling types tend to be built with different intent in mind. Granny flats focus on emulating the environment of a full-sized home on a slightly smaller scale. Homeowners use granny flats as hobby rooms, rental properties or places to house relatives. Tiny homes, on the other hand, are usually built by people looking to embrace a minimalist lifestyle. Less space means less possessions and the potential to live in a simpler way.

Tiny homes and granny flats also have different legal considerations to be aware of. Granny flats are classified as ancillary dwellings, meaning they are built on the same lot as existing properties. There are many specific laws and regulations in place for granny flats. Tiny homes are not regulated as stringently. If a tiny home is fixed, it mainly just needs to conform to the building codes. If it is portable, it is treated like a caravan for legal purposes.

Granny flat living room with couch, table and television.

What are the advantages of tiny homes?

Tiny homes have some interesting advantages compared to granny flats. Their smaller size and sustainable design is very appealing to many people. Being smaller means less day-to-day maintenance like cleaning and repairs. It also means fewer materials used during the building process, including for renovations. This results in a lot of savings that can be reinvested in higher quality building materials. Granny flats are larger and cost comparatively more to build.

The focus on sustainability adds to the appeal of tiny homes. They are designed to use far fewer appliances and lights than granny flats. This translates to noticeable savings on utility costs. Off-grid tiny homes tend to generate their own supplies of water and electricity. By incorporating features like solar panels, rainwater tanks and compost containers, they can avoid bills entirely. Combining this with wheels, to make the tiny home mobile, leads to flexible and fun lifestyle options.

The aforementioned features all contribute to tiny homes being more environmentally friendly. Smaller size and sustainable features lower their carbon footprint significantly. However, eco-friendly granny flat design can also create a similar effect.

What are the advantages of granny flats?

Granny flats’ main advantages over tiny homes come from their greater size. The extra space makes granny flats feel less cramped and better suited to entertaining guests. It also allows for a higher number of rooms to be utilised in the home. Property investors benefit from this by sourcing more tenants and increasing their passive income. This, in turn, contributes to a greater boost to their property’s value. For other homeowners, extra rooms mean more guests and relatives can live there. In lieu of this, many people repurpose them as home offices or hobby rooms.

Greater comfort is another key selling point of granny flats. They are typically outfitted with a range of modern amenities and appliances. This is in contrast to tiny homes, which de-emphasise luxury in favour of simplicity. As a result, granny flats are much more appealing to potential renters. This makes it easier to get financing for them. Tiny homes, particularly ones on wheels, are a difficult sell to a lender.

Does a granny flat or a tiny home make more sense for me?

A granny flat and a tiny home can both make more sense depending on what you’re looking for. If you prefer to have a comfortable living space that renters or family members appreciate, a granny flat makes more sense. However, if you want to embrace a simpler, more eco-friendly lifestyle, a tiny home may suit you better. Whether it’s a tiny home or a granny flat, you need to ensure quality craftsmanship from an experienced builder like Granny Flats WA. For more information or a quote, call us today.