Our Design Process

At Flat Grannys, we want the design process to be free of complications and surprises. Our process is 100% transparent, so you know where you are at any given time of the project. You don’t want to be spending your time chasing up your designer. Nor do you want to be frustrated because you aren’t sure where you are and what needs to follow. You want, and need, to be safe in the knowledge that your designer has your best interests at heart, so your build or upgrade can be turned into a reality.

Let us now take you through our design process step by step in order to achieve a high-quality design outcome.

Site Survey

The first step of the process is to have a site survey carried out of your property. The survey will be undertaken by a licensed and skilled surveyor.

Site Measure/Meeting

The initial stages of the design process are critical and will determine the accuracy and success of the entire project. The site measure may feature one or two steps depending on the specific project.

i. The scope of the property will be defined onsite during an initial and thorough walkthrough.

ii. If you are building an addition or alteration, all internal measurements will also be captured during the property visit.

Concept Production

We will sit down and prepare three concepts based on your initial ideas, and offer as many varying suggestions as possible. At this point of the project, we are only limited by our imagination and will do our utmost to do justice to your ideas and budget.

Concept Review

It is now time for you to give us your input. You will take a red pen to the proposed concepts, and we will go back and forth until everyone is happy with the plans. This may take 5 additional concepts, or even as many as 25. It is important to realise that all ideas must be tested, and nothing is left to chance. Please note that we do not charge for extra concepts at this stage of the process as it is vital that you have given your input and are happy with the completed design.

Initial Costings

Once the concept is complete, it is the ideal time to get initial costings from your preferred builder or builders. If you need recommendations, we are happy to provide you with a list of names and numbers to aid your search. If the concept is on budget, then we can proceed with the development documentation.

Statutory Documentation

The next step of the process is to prepare the documents to submit to the council. As all councils differ depending on their locality, we will ensure that the proposal meets all local legal obligations and standards. The required architectural documents will be completed in full in preparation for submission. We will also advise whether we need any third-party consultants to assist with the project.

Lodge Plans

It is time to lodge the plans with the council. We will carefully monitor the progress of the plans as they are assessed. We will act on your behalf in the role of plan applicant, and liaise directly with the staff at your local council. We will always seek to keep you updated on the progress of the submission.

Construction Documentation

Once we get council approval, we are then able to move onto the construction documentation. Council’s approval will also provide us with a helpful list of items that need specific attention. Depending on the size of the project, we can either manage this process ourselves or with the assistance of your preferred builder. We would only recommend we handle this section of the work if we felt we could add significant value to the project.

And that’s all there is to it! If you have any questions, we are only too happy to answer them for you. We want to make sure that you have a clear understanding of our processes and are satisfied from start to finish. We look forward to working with you in the future.

Can I Fit A Granny Flat In My Back Yard?

Granny flats are a great investment for your property and your future. If you live in NSW and are considering adding a detached granny flat to boost the value of your property or house your parents or your teenaged children, then you must be aware of the rules and regulations that come with building a suitable addition.

The NSW Government has no issue with homeowners building detached or secondary dwellings in their backyard provided it satisfies the necessary standards for assessment and approval. Thankfully, the assessment process is relatively straightforward.

Granny Flat Assessment Process

There are two approaches you can take when trying to secure approval for your self-contained housing build. The first is by way of a Complying Development Certificate, provided your development plans meet the necessary AHSEPP provisions. The second method is via a Development Application submitted to your local council.

1. Complying Development Certificate

If the granny flat ticks all of the development provisions listed in Schedule 1 of the AHSEPP, then your plan to build a granny flat will be approved within 20 days by either your council or an accredited certifier. The certifier will automatically notify your neighbours that an application has been submitted 14 days prior to approval.

You will receive a Complying Development Certificate immediately upon approval. Note that it is your responsibility to advise your neighbours that the building work is due to commence. This should be done at least seven days before the work is scheduled to start.

2. Development Application

If for some reason your proposed granny flat is not in accordance with the development provisions listed in the AHSEPP, then you may go ahead and proceed with the lodgement of a development application. Your application will need to be lodged directly with your local council who will then assess the application.

As long as it is located in one of the following residential zones or other equivalent zones, there should be no major issue:

  • General residential area (Zone R1)

  • Low-density residential area (Zone R2)

  • Medium density residential area (Zone R3)

  • High-density residential area (Zone R4)

  • Large lot residential area (Zone R5)

In all likelihood, extra onsite parking will not negatively affect your application in any way.

AHSEPP Development Standards

It is important you always refer back to the original AHSEPP document to ensure that no updates or amendments have been made. In order to be deemed a secondary dwelling, otherwise known as a granny flat, a principal dwelling must already be located on the property.

1. BCA Building Classification

Standalone granny flats are classified as class 1a under the BCA building classification.

2. Site Area

The site of your intended granny flat must meet the minimum standard of 450 square metres.

3. Total Floor Area

The maximum floor area of the granny flat must be 60 square metres.  If you are applying using the development application process with the local council, then the total floor area must be no greater than that allowed in your particular zone.

For more information on building and designing granny flats, you can visit the NSW Planning and Environment website or contact Flat Grannys to discuss options.

Where To Find Design Inspiration

Whether you are looking to build or renovate your commercial or residential space, it is important that you come up with a plan. But, before you even get to that stage, you need to source design inspiration from available sources to create something that will suit your tastes and the space on offer. While this can be a lot of work, it is also exhilarating and a lot of fun, as you get to scout around for ideas and let your imagination run wild.

Consider your Likes/Dislikes

We all naturally gravitate towards different styles and designs. Quite often, it is easier to realise our dislikes before our likes; but, over time, and with practice, you will begin to see where your priorities lie. Pinterest and Houzz can offer a wealth of assistance as you can cover a large number of design images in a short space of time which you can save and sort to your heart’s content. These websites will allow you to be guided by the latest trends and help you uncover new ideas.

Consider your Wants/Needs

While there are plenty of great sites out there on the World Wide Web, we recommend these three wonderful sites in particular. 

Seek Inspiration Online

While there are plenty of great sites out there on the World Wide Web, we recommend these three wonderful sites in particular. 

Arch Daily (Our Fav)

Arch Daily is a blog that offers up to date trends on all things design and architecture. It allows you to curate the best ideas and images, and keep up with the latest fads, to create a design portfolio that you can come back to again and again. Ideas are submitted from all around the world so you can get to experience what is happening in the world of architecture on a global scale.

Design Milk

Design Milk is an informative online magazine dedicated to design, furniture, architecture, art, and technology. They offer a wide range of articles that will get those ideas flowing without any trouble at all. Just click on the category you need and start browsing. Read their regular columns and enjoy the mix of fresh ideas they bring to the design table.


Dwell showcases an extensive range of design ideas through images that you can save, pin, share on Facebook or email to yourself and others. Whatever your preferred method, there is no denying that it has a myriad of fantastic design options to get you started. Dwell also publishes a digital or print magazine for extra inspiration.

Seek Inspiration Offline

Take to the streets

Drive around the streets and see if there are houses that tickle your fancy. Visit homes in your area and neighbouring suburbs to get a feel for trends and features. What do you like about them? What don’t you like about them? Attend open houses so you can get an up close and personal tour of houses and jot down the ideas that appeal.

Buy the property papers

Have a look at the newspapers, particularly on the weekend, and browse those property pages. If you see a property you like, then look for its accompanying online ad. Even better, if it is near to you, take advantage of its locality and stop by to have a look. The more houses you see, then the more ideas you will gather.

Look out for design magazines

There are a number of design and architectural magazines on the market, similar to Dwell. Keep an eye out for titles such as Architecture Australia, Green Magazine, Sanctuary, Grand Designs and Inside Out to name a few. Use whatever resources you can find on the newsagent shelves or browse your local library for past editions. You can never do too much research when it comes to working out what you like and what you don’t.

All of this information gathered from both online and offline sources, once compiled, is very helpful in putting together your design brief.

Granny Flats - Positively Geared Investment Properties

If you are considering growing your passive income, then positive gearing is a great way to go about it. Investing in a granny flat can bring in extra cash on a monthly basis, over and above the sum you would be paying to a lender for the mortgage.

While negative gearing has been a popular investment strategy in Australia in the past, positive gearing offers less risk and can increase your income in the short-term.

Investing in a positively geared investment such as a granny flat offers many additional benefits:

  • It can allow you to secure your future

  • You are in a more attractive position for lenders

  • You can pay off your current mortgage faster

  • You can increase your passive income

Consider what you would do if you made an extra $1,000 per month just by renting out a granny flat! And, while the extra cash is undeniably great, a granny flat can also bring tax depreciation benefits and annual capital growth.

Here’s how it works:

Construction Costs: $160,000.00 (ready to move in)

Repayments: $193.00 per week (4.79% Fixed Rate for five years over 30 Years – check here)

Potential Rental Return:

  • $430 per week – low end sample here

  • $600 per week – mid range sample here

  • $950 per week – high range sample here

Assuming worst case rental return, you could be looking at a weekly surplus of $235, this equates to $1,018.00 per month.

The above figures are approximate and based on average current rentals of granny flats in the Sydney area (MARCH 2018). Prices may vary subject to your site conditions, and any council or basix requirements. If this interests you, we will be happy to review your site conditions and send you a quick summary of your site's potential. Click here.

Building a granny flat provides a low-risk venture and a great deal of peace of mind. There is no need to try your hand at the stock market or even invest in a unit or other property which offers a much lower return on your investment.

Our sister company flat grannys, has a range of pre-designed granny flats, let us know if you are interested and we can send across some samples. 

If you would like to learn more about investing your money wisely and building a granny flat, then contact us for more information.

Interior Design in Small Residential Projects

The interior design of your house can come together beautifully to create a unique looking home to suit your taste and style. And, if done well, it can actually add value to the sale price, even on the smallest residential project.

The beauty of interior design is that it doesn’t have to be a costly expense. If you know you only have a small budget to work with, then an interior designer can come up with surprising and affordable ways to use what is already on the premises. This allows them to conceive something genuinely distinctive to capture the personality of the homeowners within. If there are conflicting styles at play, then a designer can take the best of both worlds and design something that will please all the residents living in the home.

When it comes to interior design, homeowners are limited by what they see in the stores. Professional interior designers, however, seem to be an unlimited fountain of knowledge and can incorporate their ideas which are backed by the latest trends. They can source items that you may not even realise exist, not to mention, have the know-how to fill that blank space in the far west corner of your lounge room perfectly.

Designers aren’t emotional about their interior design purchases. It is not their home; they are just trying to fill the space using the ideas and the budget available to them, offering professional advice when it seems right. Plus they can handle the tough decisions when you are stuck between choosing which couch cover would go best with what flooring.

Designers can advise on so many facets of new builds and renovations including ceiling trims, artwork, kitchen design, fixtures, colour coordinating and more. They can help you enhance the area, making it seem larger or airier through the use of mirrors and clever colour contrasts, or give it the exact look and feel you seek through bright prints and use of natural plants. They are familiar with local antique stores and furniture shops and may already know what will work well in the space before you do.

We have seen many new builds go horribly wrong thanks to poor interior design and workmanship. Homeowners have spent their money on the actual design and build of the home but have not bothered to come up with a grand plan to furnish the space. What then happens is a mish-mash of ideas which don’t blend well or even suit the property to begin with.

Here are some helpful tips we have collected over the years which may be beneficial to your renovation project:

  • Know your budget and understand which rooms are your priority in terms of design.

  • If you can get rid of it – do! Sometimes starting from scratch can be one of the best things to happen.

  • Don’t be afraid to give each room a personality through clever use of colour and inspiring décor.

  • Multi-functional pieces work well, particularly in smaller homes.

  • Experiment with texture to create the look you seek.

  • Prioritise the design around your lifestyle, not of that seen in a magazine.

Kylie Robertson from Design In (www.designin.com.au) understands that no two clients are alike just as no two houses are alike. She is our go-to interior designer as she has a passion for renovation and creative spaces, just as we do. If you are in the market for colour consultancy (inside and out), interior design or interior décor and styling, then Kylie can definitely help.

Interior design can make the most of the aesthetics and functionality of your residential project. Through an interior designer’s list of contacts, retailers and wholesalers, they can help you stick to your design budget, ultimately increasing the net worth of the home in the process. Because of their unique skills, attention to detail and knack for mixing and matching, they can save you a whole lot of money and stress in the design process.