Are portable granny flats the solution to Australia's housing crisis?

Australia is in the grip of a housing crisis. Over a million lower-income households are paying more than 30 per cent of household income on accommodation which is considered higher than the affordability benchmark.

And who is hit hardest? Young people who want the freedom of moving out of home but cannot afford to rent or buy their own place.

The result is that kids are trapped at home but a new company has an innovative solution for adult children where they can move out, but not too far.

PennyGranny allows you to hire a range of granny flats that suit your circumstances. They are mobile, inexpensive and can give kids the start that their parents had when they first wanted to spread their wings.

"Building a granny flat in Australia can be a costly exercise with prices for a one-bedroom flat ranging anywhere between $150-$250,000, said PennyGranny's founder Michael Doubinski "And although over 5,000 granny flats are built in Australia every year, it is something that demands more critical consideration from the landowners as there are multiple factors that could make your investment not so rewarding when you take a closer look."

The portable buildings at PennyGranny start from only around $200 per week including the delivery and removal. They are a short-term solution that allows your kids to save money for their own home but have the freedom of movement out of your house.

They also avoid the trap that a granny flat can often reduce the value of your home.

In many affluent areas such as the eastern suburbs of Sydney, for example, building a granny flat can reduce the overall value of a property as potential future owner occupier buyers might not be looking for this living set-up. They may wish for more backyard and have to factor in the cost of removing the flat.

They are costly to set up. Do not forget that as with any building project the costs of building a granny flat can stretch north very quickly and unless you have a very good contract with your builder and know what you are doing, the project cost can end up being much more than what you initially planned. If the builder goes bankrupt for example or is not able to finish the project, finding another builder can be both problematic and costly.

Although you have just spent $150-$250,000 on your brand new granny flat, the banks will often only increase the value of your property by only $70-$80,000. So in fact you would be overcapitalising by building it.

The answer is the temporary accommodation offered by PennyGranny. Some of these are classified as caravans according to Australian legislation which means that in some states, such as NSW, they do not require any council approvals in some cases, such as when they are used by a family member.

David Becker

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