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The granny flat.

Once considered an afterthought or a simple structure built in the corner of the backyard, the granny flat of old often gets a bad rap. Dated and dull, the humble granny flat was far from the modern architectural designs that we see popping up across Wollongong and the Illawarra today.

But dated no more, a granny flat – or “secondary dwelling” – can be an exciting piece of architecture, designed with its unique surroundings in mind, stylish and fit for purpose. A great design will ensure home owners can maximise space and have longevity in its use. From home office, teenage or parent retreat, movie room, pool house, guest room, tiny home or a permanent abode, a secondary dwelling has endless options.


There are many factors that come into play when designing your new space. To create the perfect secondary dwelling, there are some key considerations to keep in mind:

  • How do you plan to use it?

  • Will its use change over time?

  • How much space do you have available?

  • Are there any building restrictions – existing trees and gardens, fencing or bushfire compliance - that needs to be considered?

  • What’s the style of your existing home?

  • Does the style need to be similar and complementary, or differ completely?

  • What materials do you prefer?

  • Does it need heating and cooling?

  • What is your overall budget?

Considering these factors during the design phase will ensure you make the most of your existing space, utilise your natural surroundings and aspect, and create a design that is perfect for your home and family for many years to come.

“There are many options for creating a beautiful and practical secondary dwelling that is unique to your space. When talking to clients, my top tips to remember/consider are “ Using your backyard environment and keeping your mature trees and planning your building to integrate together will add a lot more excitement to the dwelling and added value (as mature trees are very expensive to purchase).

Remember that the smaller the building footprint (60m2 maximum for a secondary dwelling) the more volatile the dwelling will be, as it will react with the outside environment. (Eg really hot days outside will make the dwelling very uncomfortable inside & vice versa on cold days.) By introducing really well insulated walls, floors and roof into the building structure, as well as double glazed thermally broken windows and doors this will allow you to control the internal environment with the aid of a reverse cycle air-conditioning system.

Also using decks with the dwelling will make the space feel a lot bigger, even separating zones of the dwelling with a deck in the middle can create very private sanctuary without impacting the maximum floor space ratio.(60m2 dwelling plus 25m2 deck will give you 85m2 of living space),”

“Budget and timeframes are always big considerations, however choosing <materials etc> that are sustainable and energy-efficient will ensure that your secondary dwelling is a viable investment over the long-term – regardless of what it is used during its lifetime!”

says Adam Souter, Director of Souter Built.


As the proud winners of the 2020 Master Builders Association of NSW Award Winner – “Best Granny Flat $200,001 and Over” for the Backyard House project , Souter Built are experts at helping home owners create the perfect granny flat to complement your home.

So, why was this project such a stand-out?

Hector Abrahams Architects, the project’s designer explains, “the Backyard House embodies good design, strong planning and advocacy skills and high environmental standards. Built as a secondary dwelling, it is located on a small footprint in a heritage conservation area in Sydney’s inner west.

Uncommon for a secondary dwelling, the house has two storeys and two bedrooms. There is excellent sun access. Thoughtful landscaping creates a sense of privacy and space between the two homes on this smallish block of land. Detailing throughout the house is beautifully resolved.

Cross ventilating, insulated and sealed, as well as acoustically protected, Backyard House is designed for the environmental comfort for its occupants. Air-conditioning is unnecessary. All the timber is sustainably grown. Water retention on the site collects and reuses large amounts of water for both houses.”

Ready to build the perfect secondary dwelling or granny flat to your Wollongong property? Thoughtful design and a high-quality build with Souter Built can take your granny flat dreams from drab to designer.


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