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Granny Flat Drafters – How to Pick One & What to Look Out For

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granny flat drafters

If you are thinking of using a drafter to design the plans for your granny flat, well it is an important choice, so – What makes a great granny flat drafter?


A designer who can provide construction ready plans so you can get you construction certificate, you want your designer to be reliable, experienced and honest with their advice. This will save you when it comes time to build.


Today I will provide you with a list of granny flat specialist drafters in each state of Australia.


DON'T PAY A FORTUNE FOR YOUR GRANNY FLAT. Find out how to deal with council and build a granny flat for the lowest cost possible. Learn More.

I will also cover:


  • What to look for in a great drafter?
  • What questions to ask a granny flat drafter before signing them on?
  • What needs to be done to provide ‘construction ready’ plans.
  • Find out if a granny flat drafter be able to help with Engineering requirements
  • And will a drafter be able to help, if a builder runs into problems during the build?


find out how to work with a great drafter below


So, let’s get straight into it with a list of specialist rafters that come highly recommended to our community.


A List of Granny Flat Specialist Drafters in Each State of Australia


























What to Look for in a Granny Flat Drafter


Below is a list of what you should look for in your granny flat drafter.


As, to become a drafter, one must first study at TAFE or College, where they will learn the skills required to draft (draw) the designs for the role. They will then need time to perfect their expertise on the job.


So, this list will help you make sure that the drafter you choose is reliable, trustworthy, and an expert in their field.


  • Confirm they are licensed – Sadly, not all drafters who advertise are registered. Visit the website http://www.licensedtrades.com.au/ and enter their license number, to see if it is Active or Expired.
  • Check, with your State’s licensing authority, their record of performance.
  • Look at their memberships and accreditations – Are they affiliated with the Design Institute 0f Australia, Building Designers Association of Australia, or any other professional body in their line of work.
  • Do they know the rules for your region – The regulations differ between Councils’, so it is important that they are up to date with yours. Fill yourself in on your Councils’ regulations, and check to see if they know them.


Their training and focus should show that they are skilled in the technical side of your project, that they have all the experience needed for construction, such as complying with Councils’ regulations and Building Codes. I will elaborate on how to look for this under the next sub-heading below.


  • Are they reasonably priced – I suggest you get quotes from at least three drafters. To compare their quotes, ask them to draw you a preliminary sketch, which you can take to a building estimator or other professional. They can let you know if you are getting a fair price, that is going to work properly in your budget.
  • Are they good at communicating and listening – Remember, you are about to have them design something that is a big investment, as it is going on your land. You need to be able to communicate with them well.


So, you need to feel as though they are talking openly and honestly with you, rather than just telling you what you want to hear. That they listen to you, so that they want to get to know you. How you choose to use the secondary dwelling, so their experience can shine through and they can give you the best solution.


You need to be able to give them constructive criticism about what you do and do not like about their designs, without them taking it personally. This means that they can create a design that suits you. Rather than just sticking you in a duplicate box like every other person they’ve worked for. Generating a design that won’t suit your site.


  • Do they provide you with any advice – You hire your drafter for their intelligence, experience, and skills, which should direct you from where you are now, and where you want to be.

This elaborates on the point I made above, but you should see that they want to meet your vision. If they try to find out details from you, and give you advice, they are trying to understand what you envision, and then can tell you whether it is possible without spending a fortune when it comes to construction.

  • Do they appreciate your budget – It is not their entitlement to be drafting for you, they should treat it as an honour. So, they should pay attention to the fact you are spending your money on their design. This means that they will be able to tell you what you need to hear, not want to hear.


The warning sign is clearif they have not discussed your budget, they are probably not taking it into consideration.


  • Trust yourself – If y0u get a natural gut feeling about this person, trust what this is telling you. Do you feel as though they are trustworthy? Have they made you feel secure, and positive about your project? As though they are skilled enough to do the work for you?


What Questions to Ask a Granny Flat Drafter Before Signing Them On


Choosing your drafter can be an overwhelming decision to make, as it is one of the most important choices you have to make to get the best out of your project.


So, here are some questions that you should ask a granny flat drafter before signing anything.


  • Can you sketch up a drawing for me? Pay for them to draft you up what is called an initial design concept. So, if you do not like what you see, you can run away, quickly.
  • Can you give me some references? Ask for references from similar work they have done. Then, make sure you call those references, and ask what they thought of the drafter.
  • Can I see some of your work? Again, ask for jobs that are alike yours. Ask if you can visit three sites – one that is still being constructed, one that was finished not long ago, and one that is about 5 – 10 years old.
  • Councils’ regulations – As mentioned above, they will be working alongside your Council, who have rules of their own. So, they need to know these regulations for your area.

To quiz them on these, learn some of your Councils’ regulations, then ask them a few questions. If they cannot answer correctly, they probably have inadequate knowledge and experience.

  • Do your designs comply with secondary dwelling regulations? You can also just ask them straight out if their designs comply with your local Councils’ regulations? How detailed their answer is will give you insight into their knowledge of the regulations.

It will also let you know how trustworthy they are – remember, if the dwelling does not meet regulations, you are wasting your time and money, as you will not get approval to build, so run away, fast.

  • Why should I trust you to design my granny flat? You may want to express this with a little more diplomacy, but you do want to know why you should choose one drafter over another. The biggest error of judgement could be choosing the lowest quote if the drafter is inexperienced.

So, they need to prove to you that they are a proficient drafter. If they are, they should be able to show you photos, drawings, and other proof.

  • What am I getting for my money? Ask your drafter for every detail about their design. Remember, all designs must meet Council approval. The drafter may assist you through the approval process, ready for you to begin building.

So, if the quote is low, it may be because it does not have certain inclusions. If you find the quote too expensive, you may be able to negotiate a lower cost.

  • What is your procedure, your methods of communication, and your expected timeframe? This will help save any confusion.


Even after asking all these questions, if you still find yourself undecided and unconfident, it is okay – there is nothing saying that you can only hire one drafter for the entirety of your project (unless, of course, you sign a contract telling you otherwise). 


So, if you are still not convinced they are the right drafter for your granny flat, you can arrange for them to do partial services.


Though, if you do find the right drafter and sign a contract for a complete service, make sure that the arrangement you sign lets you:


  • Discontinue at any time, while still being able to use any work that you have already paid for, and they have handed over to you.


A great drafter will appreciate the way you have trusted them. Similarly, you will think highly of their ability and skill. A clever way to think of this is an exchange of value and establishment of faith and trust.


Can a Granny Flat Drafter Provide ‘Construction Ready’ Plans?


Yes – a drafter is an expert in drawing up plans that are ready for construction.


When they are learning their trade, they are mostly taught how to draw. As such, they know how buildings are constructed, and they can show this accurately in their drawings.


Will a Granny Flat Drafter be Able to Help with Engineering Requirements?


Yes – you should be able to give your drafter your engineers drawings, which they will use to begin making their plans ready for construction.


These help the designer as:


  • An Engineers Report – If you chose to build on piers, this includes a soil test, which stipulates what size your concrete footings must be. Or, if you chose to build on a concrete slab, it certifies specifics, such as the required reinforcement and strength of the concrete.


So, from this, the drafter can do adequate studies, reducing the risk that you will incur added fees for more engineering needed due to Geotechnical reports.


Will a Drafter be Able to Help if a Builder Runs into Problems During the Build


They should – a registered drafter handles preparing plans for building work, valued at $10, 000 or more. And if experienced they should understand how to solve pitfalls that might pop up during construction.


They must be capable of undertaking the following activities, to a professional standard:


  • Advising “owner-builders” and/or builders on building materials and construction techniques.
  • Applying understanding of the requirements of the applicable building legislation, regulations, and Australian standards to the design.
  • Guide and arrange various secondary consultants (i.e. engineers, and heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) consultants), to give professional advice and suggestions on the design of the building and their elements.
  • Make sure their projects’ design, specifications, and documentation have considered energy rating reports, and Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings.
  • Commence applications for building permits and communicate with the building surveyor to bring out the documents required for the application. 




A great drafter is worth taking time to find, as they are designing something of great value.


Factors to consider when preparing to draw up your designs include:


  • Who will use the granny flat?
  • What do you expect from it? i.e. what are your main requirements.
  • What is your budget?
  • How many bedrooms – 1, 2, or 3?
  • How many bathrooms – 1, a guest toilet, en-suite, etc.?
  • Any additions that would be of benefit?


You must also remember that your design must match your primary dwelling, to enhance the visual aesthetics of your property.


I have an article that details the difference between drafters and architects.


Or, if you’re ready to start, you can read about how to build your own granny flat.