what is a granny unit

What Is a Granny Unit? Everything You Need to Know

In our world of ever-increasing housing costs, it can be difficult to know how to best care for ourselves and our families. While limited housing and high living expenses impact everybody, the elderly are often most affected.

For aging relatives who need to stay near their families but don’t require constant care, the situation is even more complicated. Not everyone has room in their homes to house a loved one, and not everyone would be comfortable with doing so, anyway. A sentiment that goes both ways!

Granny units may be a solution to both problems.

If you’ve been wondering, “what is a granny unit?” then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll define what a granny unit is, go over several secondary uses for granny units, and discuss some things you need to know to build one.

To find out everything you ever wanted to know about granny units, keep reading.

What Is a Granny Unit?

A granny unit is a small home built in your property’s backyard.. It’s self-contained and distinct from the main home. It’s also referred to as a granny flat, mother-in-law suite, or the official name, accessory dwelling unit (ADU).

A granny unit is usually built on the grounds of a single-family home. It can be detached from the main dwelling unit.

As its name implies, granny units are often used to accommodate aging parents. However, as we’ve also discussed, other relatives may live in one instead, as well as visiting guests and even renters (depending on the jurisdiction).

How Big Is a Granny Unit?

Obviously, granny units tend to be quite small. They sometimes even fit into the increasingly popular “tiny house” category. However, they must be large enough for someone to live comfortably with all their daily needs met.

Although they’re usually compact, there’s no limit on how large a granny unit can be. While a tiny house may be as small as 80 square feet(and that’s really small!), a fully-furnished granny flat may be as large as 1,000 square feet, or even larger (about the size of a single family home)

If you build a granny unit onto your house or in your backyard, you should consider making it large enough for two people to live in as comfortably as possible. This way, you’ll be able to house family, guests or even tenants should you wish to use the home at some point to generate passive income.

What Features Should a Granny Unit Have?

Second to being comfortably sized, the most important part of a granny unit is its amenities. Your aging relative will need to be able to take care of themselves and meet their own needs conveniently while they’re living there.

That means a granny unit should have a full bathroom, a fully-functioning kitchen, and enough space to eat, sit, and sleep comfortably. It should also be furnished with a TV and even a computer so whoever’s living there can be entertained.

What Are the Challenges of Building a Granny Unit?

There are some unique challenges involved with building and maintaining an accessory dwelling unit. This is particularly the case if you want to lease the unit to tenants when it’s no longer needed by your family.

Although many jurisdictions allow homeowners to rent out tiny homes and ADUs built on their property, some don’t. Before you decide whether to build an ADU or plan to earn any money with one, you should learn about your city’s regulations.

Even if you have no intentions of leasing the granny unit, different jurisdictions still enforce various rules regarding how ADUs must be built. 

The best way to deal with these types of difficulties is to learn as much as you can about the regulations and requirements in your neighborhood. For most homeowners, building an ADU is very achievable as long as they know what’s allowed.

What Are the Benefits of Building a Granny Unit?

There are challenges involved with any building or home improvement project. But when it comes to granny units, the benefits far outweigh the challenges.

The most obvious advantage is that having a granny flat can make it much easier and more convenient to care for loved ones. It can also help you keep your family connected while maintaining everyone’s privacy and space.

Another great thing about granny units is their versatility. If no one was living in it at the time, you could convert it into an office, art studio, or entertainment lounge. ADUs are also great for entertaining guests and even renting to tourists.

Consider Building Your Granny Unit Today

Now you know the answer to the question, “what is a granny unit?” Not only that, but you also now know what the benefits and challenges are of building one on your property.

The only question left now is, is building a granny unit the right step for you and your family?

With the convenience and versatility of accessory dwelling units, we think you’ll find that it is. And Action ADU is here to build granny houses and accessory apartments with the highest quality standards for San Jose residents.

If you’re considering building an ADU, contact us today.

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