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

Solihull News - - YOUR HOME -

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

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