Should I build a portable granny flat?

Building a portable granny flat can be a cost-efficient and flexible alternative to building a traditional granny flat on your property. Not only can you save money on building expenses and materials, but you also bring your investment with you when you move. However, there are still a few things to consider before you go ahead. As while choosing a portable granny flat can provide a versatile space for guests, tenants, family and yourself, as well as helping to add value to a property, there may still be some drawbacks that might make a mobile granny flat unsuitable for your needs. Here’s everything you need to know before you build a portable granny flat.

What is a portable granny flat?

A portable granny flat is a secondary dwelling that may be moved to a new location, in some cases it is also known as a relocatable granny flat or transportable home.
Portable granny flats have become increasingly popular with homeowners in Western Australia who are looking for an affordable and flexible way to increase living space on their property.

How does a mobile granny flat differ from other granny flats?

Portable granny flats are built on a chassis that allows them to be transported to another location. This mobility makes them a good option for homeowners who are downsizing or moving in the future. Portable granny flats are also less expensive than traditional granny flats, and can take less time to build.

When considering portable granny flat options in WA, there are a few things to keep in mind. You’ll need to confer with your local zoning authority and learn the restrictions of building ancillary dwellings in your area. Acquiring the necessary permits from your local government is essential before you may start building.

Another important building consideration for portable granny flats include the foundation they are built on and their connections to utilities like water and electricity.

What are the benefits of a portable granny flat?

There are many benefits to a mobile second dwelling, however the main benefits of portable granny flats are:

  • Flexibility: Having a smaller property which is built to move means you take it with you if you choose to relocate. Transform your space: . What was once a home office can be converted into a guest house for visiting family with little to no alterations.
  • Rental opportunity: If your granny flat ever becomes vacant you might also consider renting your granny flat to create additional income.
  • Cost-effectiveness: Portable granny flats are also cheaper than traditional granny flats. This is because on-site construction is longer and more expensive. Portable granny flats are typically made off-site as modular units before being assembled at the build site. The period of building, assembly, and fittings is shorter than regular granny flat projects. This contributes to lower costs during the construction process.

What are the drawbacks of a relocatable granny flat?

While there are many advantages to a mobile granny flat, there are some limitations which can make them unsuitable for some circumstances and premises. These include:

  • Less customisable: As most portable granny flats are built with a modular design this means they are premade in sections offsite and transported to the building area. Modular homes are made from pre-approved plans and may not be as customisable as a traditional home.
  • Durability: If you are building a granny flat from prefabricated materials, you compromise the durability of the structure. Typical modular homes are built with brick, drywall, and vinyl siding. These materials are not as durable as the steel, fibre cement or stone that fixed granny flats use. A portable granny flat is more likely to be impacted by the elements than a traditional granny flat. However, not all modular homes are made the same. The quality depends on the manufacturer.
  • Transportation: In order to move your portable granny flat, you need to consider the terrain of your property. The site of your granny flat requires accessibility for moving crew and their vehicles. If you live on a remote property, you’ll need to factor in the cost of transportation. When moving house, you must ensure that you have the space and resources to transport your granny flat. If your property is remote, or inaccessible (for example, you live on a very steep hill or down a narrow lane), consider whether a portable granny flat is the right choice for you.
Bedroom with ensuite bathroom

Are transportable granny flats more expensive to build?

Portable second dwellings are not always more expensive to build than traditional granny flats. In fact, they are more cost-effective in some cases. This is because portable granny flats are built quickly, require less foundation work, and are made with lighter materials. These elements save on labour and transportation costs.

Other factors that affect the cost of a mobile second dwelling include size, design complexity, materials used, and location. You may choose to construct your granny flat using more expensive materials like stone or wood. If your property is difficult to access, the transport company may charge extra. It’s important to get quotes from several builders before making your decision.

Traditional granny flats tend to be more expensive since their construction time is longer. Building onsite calls for more labour and materials. A traditional granny flat needs a foundation, which is costly to install. Mobile granny flat can be built on concrete slabs or on even ground, which saves on foundation expenses.

Are portable granny flats good rental properties?

A portable granny flat could be a profitable rental property for an investor. A small, self-contained unit offers a number of advantages including:

  • Lower upfront costs: Portable granny flats are constructed quicker and are generally cheaper and more easily built than traditional granny flats. This is because they are built off-site before being transported.
  • Higher yields: Portable granny flats also tend to garner higher rental yields than traditional homes. This is due to greater demand from renters. Tenants looking for compact, independent units may turn to granny flats as a more affordable option.
  • Flexibility: One of the biggest advantages of having a portable granny flat as a rental property is the flexibility. When you move, you take the flat with you and continue to rent it out. If long-term leasing isn’t for you, consider using your granny flat as an Airbnb. 

However, it is important that before renting out your granny flat, you check your local tenancy laws to understand your rights and responsibilities.

What should I consider before renting out my mobile granny flat?

If you are considering using a portable granny flat as a rental property, there are a few things to consider: 

  • First, ensure there is demand for granny flat rentals in your area. 
  • Second, choose a location that is convenient for renters. 
  • Third, make sure the granny flat is well-maintained and in good condition.

Can you convert a fixed granny flat into a portable one?

You could convert a fixed granny flat into a portable one, depending on the circumstances. The feasibility of converting a traditional second dwelling depends on the size and condition of the granny flat, the local zoning regulations, and the cost of conversion. 

If you want to convert your fixed granny flat into a mobile one, speak with a qualified builder or engineer. They are able to assess the possibility of the project and advise you accordingly. You should also check with your local council to ensure that the conversion is permitted in your area. Converting a fixed granny flat into a transportable dwelling is a complex and expensive project.  However, it is a worthwhile investment if you want a flexible and affordable housing option.

Is a transportable granny flat right for me?

A portable granny flat is a great investment for homeowners that want flexibility and affordability. With the right planning and research, a portable granny flat provides steady income and extra space. Its design allows it to relocate, so you are able to bring it along when you move. Chat to our friendly team to discover how portable granny flats can work for you.