Points to ponder before giving a home to a relative
It might be a great solution but building an annex is a big decision. LISA SALMON discusses the granny flat boom
Thanks to rising property prices and expensive care home fees, a growing number of families are opting to live with, or right next to older relatives, by building granny flats on their homes.
The latest figures from the Valuation Office Agency show there are now nearly 39,000 granny annexes in England and Wales alone – an increase of 16% in recent years.
The government has tried to encourage families to live together by discounting council tax and scrapping stamp duty increases on annexes, and ministers have stressed the benefits of inter- generational families, which help save the NHS and social care system a lot of money.
Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK ( ageuk. org. uk), thinks granny flats are a “great solution” for elderly living.
“This type of accommodation is one of a range of housing options open to older people who want to maintain their independence for longer in a smaller, easier- to- manage home, with around- the- clock family support when needed. It’s a great solution, but needs agreement and understanding on living arrangements and expectations,” says Caroline.
“Bold and innovative new independent living arrangements should be encouraged and made easier to implement and afford.”
Thinking of building a granny flat? Here are nine points that might help... A BRIDGE PRIOR TO CARE While it may not be possible for an elderly person to avoid going into a care home eventually, a granny annex can offer a useful bridge between independence and the provision of care. NO COUNCIL TAX The National Federation of Builders ( NFB) says an annex occupied by an elderly or disabled family member has a 100% council tax discount. SHARED BILLS Depending on how it’s built and your preferences, bills may be shared between the family home and the granny flat, potentially saving money ( assuming granny or grand- dad doesn’t have the heating on all the time). PLAN FOR FUTURE NEEDS Think carefully not just about the elderly person’s needs now, but what they may be in the future. If your granny annex is two storeys, do the bedroom and toilet need to be downstairs in case mobility becomes an issue in later years? CHOOSE BUILDERS CAREFULLY A new- build can also be very stressful, so choose your builders carefully. The NFB’s Find a Builder ( builders. org. uk/ find- a- builder) helps people contact reputable builders who’ve been strictly vetted and have undergone a range of reference checks. DO IT SOONER NOT LATER Moving can be very stressful for anyone, but especially for an older person. A decision to build a granny flat needs to be made sooner rather than later ie. before an elderly relative is in desperate need of an accommodation change, and while they’re still reasonably mobile if possible.
Look on it as an investment for the future. GET LEGAL ADVICE It’s important to discuss, and get legal advice if necessary, what happens if either the younger family or the older relative wants to sell up and move to a different property but the others don’t want to sell. COMMUNICATION IS KEY Honest and detailed discussions are crucial, both with the builder before construction about the budget, timescale and exactly what you and the elderly relative want, and with your relative about how bills will be paid ( if they’re shared), who’s responsible for the garden if it’s shared, whether you eat together, whether you knock before entering each other’s homes, etc. BE PREPARED FOR RELATIONSHIP BREAKDOWNS It may also be worth seeing a solicitor to discuss what happens if there’s a relationship breakdown, as one of the family homeowners may demand their share of the property in divorce proceedings. What happens to the granny flat occupant then?
We would all want to provided care for an elderly relative – but there are many things to consider before taking such a big step