Dual Living – What & Why?

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It’s worth considering if you’re just starting out

by Adrian Stagg

There’s a growing trend toward what’s known as as “Dual Living” or “Dual Dwelling” . These types of dwelling are proving popular with both extended families and investors and there are some good reasons why. Dual dwellings are often designed to look like a regular house when viewed from the street and are usually allowed in low density residential zoning. These are also known as a “Dwelling House” with a  “Auxilliary Unit” or “Family Unit” [Granny Flat] and should not be confused with a “Duplex” or “Dual Occupancy”, which usually require a medium density zoning and a larger land size.

One of the reasons they are increasing in popularity relates to the aging of the ‘Baby Boomer’ generation many of whom have managed to at least accumulate one property, say the family home, but have often left their superannuation provisions short. After all the compulsory super contribution laws as we know them only came into being in the 1990’s and then only started at 3% of salary; hardly enough to retire wealthy on. For this group of people the chance to garner a little extra income is an attractive one. A ‘Dual Dwelling’ can help them achieve that.

modern house
Dual dwellings are usually designed to look like a single dwelling

At the other end of the scale, younger people are increasingly finding it more and more difficult to get into the property market. A ‘Dual Dwelling’ enables this group to build a home and get some income on the side to assist with their mortgage payments.

For investors the ‘Dual Dwelling’ concept usually allows a greater yield on their investment giving a greater chance to own a positively geared investment as opposed to one that’s negatively geared.

Granny Flats  – The Rules have changed

In response to this growing trend some local councils have either relaxed their old rules relating to Granny Flats or have inserted new sections to their town plans to facilitate this sort of project, sometimes using different terminology such as ‘Auxiliary Unit’. The rules vary from one local area to another but usually allow a living space of around 50 m2 – 75 m2 (GFA) which in some cases need not even be attached to the main residence.

There may be other issues such as noise abatement or fire rating requirements, all of which we can assist you  with however mostly old rules such as occupants being required to be ‘blood relatives’ have been dispensed with. Therefore they can be leased to anybody.

A big advantage of this sort of building relates to cost. Of course it’s more expensive to build than your typical house but typically it’s cheaper to build than a duplex for instance. One reason for this is that it may be possible to build on a smaller allotment than possible with a duplex. Another reason relates to car parking requirements and visitor parking. Then of course there’s the question of zoning. These can be built on ordinary residential land without requirement for more expensive land zoned for units or townhouses.

From a planning and aesthetics viewpoint a well designed ‘Dual Dwelling’ is not distinguishable from the street from any other house in the street so from a visual viewpoint the tone of a Res ‘A’ street is not downgraded. With clever design each of the two dwellings will have separate indoor and outdoor living spaces so that occupants may live independently of each other. The units may be interconnected if required but do not have to be.

Read our blog “Granny flats – How do they rate as an investment” where we disect the various rules Council by Council area around Brisbane

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