There are so many different designs for a granny flat, including those with higher roof lines, so what is the best way to build a granny flat with a loft?
A granny flat with a loft requires you to integrate great design practices, with significantly more structural and foundational work with the advice of an engineer.
But they will offer more room, great views and various uses for different sized granny flats.
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Today I will show you 7 examples of granny flats with lofts. And I will cover the structural requirements to build a granny flat with a loft.
Plus the height restrictions you must be aware of.
Finally… I’ll cover costs (percentage wise) to build a usable loft.
A usable loft will work; depending on councils floor space & height restrictions
I will discuss the best way to design a loft. I will talk about whether you can live in a loft if the ceiling is not high enough. Finally, I will discuss what you can do with the “wasted” space a slanted roof provides.
7 Examples of Granny Flats with a Loft
NOTE: click on the links to see the 7 examples gathered.
At 58 square metres, the “Rembandt” Granny Flat is great if you have limited space on your property.
Its’ modern design has a ‘Manhattan apartment style’ feel with its’ loft.
Unlike the example above, sometimes “un-usable” lofts can still bring in light
Available with 1 or 2 bedrooms, and still including an open plan kitchen, dining and living area, a bathroom and space for a washing machine, it can:
- Be used for anything from a home office to a teenagers’ retreat.
Whatever solution you choose to use it for, it is a perfect option for a smaller block.
This is a premium secondary dwelling – it has an open plan design on the lower floor, and a master bedroom loft suite.
Its’ passive solar design, insulation and use of large windows ensures your warmth, comfort, and a natural light filled space.
Aspect Z also have a LOFT 1. This architecturally designed granny flat focuses on:
- Construction for specialised sites with great views.
- A balance of indoor/outdoor living with a large deck.
- Open plan living for a spacious feel.
- Living Smart QLD – The Fonzie Flat
Designed by architect Ben Giles, the granny flat had to be both visually appealing and have a practical amount of habitable area.
So, he created a 60 square metre building that had a small footprint, whilst maximising the amount of landscaping.
To increase the living area, a loft-style bedroom was added to the second floor, while downstairs where a:
- Combined kitchen, dining and living area.
The extra height gave the granny flat the much needed feeling of space.
For a twist on the traditional granny flat / loft, you can consider doing a conversion over your garage. A garage loft granny flat is a great way of adding fully self-contained secondary dwelling above an existing double garage.
You may be able to legally convert an ‘above garage loft’ into your granny flat
Generally speaking, they will have their own bathroom and kitchen, so you maintain your privacy in your primary home. What makes this design particularly great is that access is via a side set of stairs, so there is little impact on the existing ground floor.
Also, if you have the land, but do not have a garage, Barefoot Renovations will build both the garage and loft together for you.
Interestingly enough, lofts can also be added to kit (“flatpack”) granny flats.
YZY Kit Homes have added a loft to their Cyprus 40 square metre kit home. It is big enough to sleep 2 children or 1 adult.
They will also add a loft to any of their granny flat kit home designs if you prefer these instead.
Another example of a kit home with a loft, at 80 square metres The Cod is larger.
Designs like this are dreamy! You will have to consult your designer about limitations on ceilings heights in Australia.(Mentioned below).
It has 1 bedroom, a loft, and a verandah, so space is no issue. This leaves you with a sense of calmness.
Even better, it is a budget option
and quick and easy to assemble.
Structural Requirements to Build a Granny Flat with a Loft
A granny flat with a loft requires significantly more structural and foundation work than a traditional granny flat.
This is so they can hold the weight of a second storey.
In many cases, either the use of extra steel or extra timber beams must be installed to help support the loft.
As well as the steel/timber sub-structure requirements, the foundation on which the granny flat is built may need to be;
- Underpinned and strengthened.
Meaning, it may need to be supported from below by laying a solid concrete slab from below ground level.
This will need to be properly designed and engineered by your architect.
How Much More (Percentage Wise) Does it Cost to Build a Usable Loft
If you are looking to do a granny flat loft conversion, this can cost you from roughly:
This is about a 40% mark-up on the cost of an average 1-bedroom granny flat.
This mark-up tends to come from changes that must be done to the existing structural foundations.
So, there is not quite such a mark-up on granny flats with a loft, as this foundation is not yet in place.
Although you will pay additional costs with the architect to build a stronger foundation, the total costs of the;
- Granny flat itself, and
- Extra work involved, is
An average of 30%.
Height Restrictions You Must be Aware Of
The heights for ceilings must be built according to the NCC (National Construction Code) Building Code of Australia Volume 2.
Section P2.4.2 of this states provisions that a building must meet regarding the height of its’ ceiling, including;
- The ceiling height must not hinder its’ intended purpose.
Rooms are broken down into specific classifications;
- Habitable rooms – i.e. bedrooms, living rooms, kitchens, dining rooms, studies, playrooms, theatres, etc.
- Non-habitable rooms – i.e. bathrooms, laundries, wardrobes, hallways, garages/carports, and,
- Any other specialised spaces that aren’t exposed to repeated use for extensive lengths of time.
Clause 188.8.131.52 then states the minimum height of these rooms according to their classification.
A habitable room must have a ceiling height:
- No less than 2.4m, EXCEPT FOR the kitchen, which must not be under 2.4m.
Non-habitable rooms must have a ceiling height:
In both rooms, if the ceilings are sloped, the ceiling height must not be;
- Lower than the minimum height for at least two-thirds of the floor area in the room.
One exception is attics/lofts. They must not be under 2.2m (over two-thirds of the floor area within the room).
Best Way to Design a Loft
A loft was initially designed for an artist – those who prefer to be slightly isolated, working inspired by the lovely views a loft offers.
As the years went on, it appeared that lofts attracted people who had nothing to do with art, instead were enticed by their simplicity.
So now, lofts are seen as the ideal solution for those looking to adopt a lifestyle of serenity and ease.
Though, there are still ways you can make the best use of your loft space.
Well-designed, built-in storage solutions will help to increase the space you have. It will also keep your loft looking tidy.
Custom-made cabinetry is a great option if there is room in your budget for this.
This way, the ‘less is more’ principle that is so common does not have to apply to the loft, if functionality was in the initial design.
Just keep the clutter low and you can bring up whatever you want.
Just keep in mind that a lot of what you own will be displayed to your visitors.
Another hint is to decide on your aesthetic vision and use the same colour / combination of tones throughout your whole loft.
This will give the illusion of more space.
Often, lofts are designed in a modern way, favouring clear, sleek lines and neutral colours.
But don’t be scared to break the bleak with a splash of bold colour, just a hint where you think it’s necessary.
Materials used are usually natural – stone, wood, metallics’.
For example, you can try using a lovely, sustainable maple floor, and stain it in rich tones, and decorate with plants.
Lofts generally have high ceilings, with feature exposed beams and similar duct-work.
If you don’t find this look pleasing, disguise it with darker decorations.
Sometimes, to make it look lower all you will need to do is just paint the beams.
Similar strategies include;
- Hanging tall paintings, or
- Buying taller furniture, such as a bookshelf.
On a similar note, when you think about it, a loft is a tall, empty room.
Its’ ceilings seem out of proportion to its’ size, as there are no divisions such as walls.
So, your first job is to rescale the loft, to make sure your furniture is not desolated without a function.
It helps to choose larger pieces of furniture, in bold colours that contrast the neutral colours you have probably used on the walls.
Another option is to rethink lighting – illuminating areas separately rather than centrally is a wise idea.
Define more than one light area for each part. A loft will have an open-floor concept, so you can achieve a division even without walls.
For example, one area for eating, one for seating, another for sleeping – well, lighting is a great way to achieve that.
On the topic of lighting, it is important to have a lot of natural light in your loft. This will make it appear spacious.
You will probably already have a lot of windows, as you want those lovely views.
You may need to add curtains, shutters, or blinds to protect your privacy but still let the light in.
If you want extra lighting, try using mirrors strategically in places where they can reflect the sunlight that comes into your loft.
Can You Live in a Loft if the Ceiling Height is not High Enough?
Simple answer – No,
Loft ceilings must be a minimum height of 2.2m, and these rules have been imposed for a reason.
Hot air will rise, so a loft can be harder to keep cool during summers.
One of the most important details of high ceilings worth thinking about is the impact they have on your energy bills.
Although I do not have the figures on cooling, you can gather that ceilings do make a difference from recent studies that have shown:
- For every 10cm reduction in the height of ceilings, the energy consumed for heating will be reduced by 1%.
What to Do With the “Wasted” Space a Slanted Roof Provides
There is so much space in a roof cavity that is so often totally disregarded, due to a slanted roof.
This is a great spot for storage. All you need is a drop-down ladder, so it takes up no valuable floorspace.
For a look at a great design, see Granny Flat Approvals Northern Beaches ‘Roof Storage Attic’.
They have built a great storage space-saving solution with a ladder that retracts back into the roof cavity.
A granny flat with a loft requires much more structural and foundation work than a traditional granny flat, so they support the second storey.
This often includes extra steel or timber beams to be installed for sub-structure.
The foundation the granny flat is built on may also need to be underpinned and strengthened – that is;
- Supported from underneath by laying a solid concrete slab below ground level.
In total, the extra work will cost you an average of 30% for a granny flat with a loft.
Although their ceiling height is slightly less than other granny flats at 2.2m, this is still quite high.
So, a good design for a loft includes:
- Built-In Storage
- A neutral flow of colours with splashes of bold
- ‘Lowering’ the look of the ceiling with painting or taller furniture
- Using lighting to ‘separate’ the rooms
- Windows and mirrors for natural light
If the ceiling is not high enough, a great way to make use of this space is as a storage area.