By Philip Saich
Families across the UK are increasingly waking up to the realities of the effect of rising housing prices on young people attempting to get on the property ladder and the elderly requiring regular personal and social care. As a result, more and more homeowners are planning ahead by looking to their gardens to provide accommodation for both generations in the form of a self-contained annexe.
By the end of 2018 it was estimated that nearly 4,000 annexes had been created in the UK in order to offer more privacy to younger members of the family who are either saving for a deposit towards their first home or to establish a safe environment for an ageing relative who might otherwise need to move into a care home. Building an annexe clearly requires investment, but over time that investment is likely to be more than offset by the increase it will generate in the value of your property and, in the case of the elderly, the savings you will make in care home fees. Not only that, research indicates that a significant percentage of the UK housing stock is taken by single people living in three- or four-bedroom houses, so by moving into a relative’s annexe they would be freeing up larger houses to enable families to move up the property ladder. In addition, the occupant of the annexe has more regular access to the company of loved ones, and older relatives, in particular, can also be on hand to offer childcare support for their grandchildren.
The benefits of living in an annexe
One report suggests that in the UK as many as 13% of males aged 65 to 74 live alone, while the figure rises to a staggering 35% for women. As a result, living in an annexe in a relative’s back garden offers a greater feeling of security and allows younger members of the family to oversee day-to-day activities such as shopping and paperwork, while also encouraging participation in pastimes such as gardening, which can be therapeutic.
Increasingly, adding an annexe is contributing not only to more rapid rises in property values but also to an increase in the desirability of the house among anyone looking to move somewhere with independent living space for other members of the family. While younger members are unlikely to be able to contribute financially, many elderly relatives are able to sell their existing home in order to fund the annexe project and – in many instances – to release capital to pay for on-site care.
If you’re creating a permanent independent dwelling, the project will need planning permission, and that permission will only be granted for a family member to occupy the annexe. If you’re looking to add a space that you will rent out, this will not be classed as an annexe and you will need to apply for Planning Permission for Holiday Lets. It is not advisable to commence any work until the correct level of planning permission has been granted as the Local Authority has the power to demand that any work conducted without permission be reversed and the house returned to its original condition.
Things to consider
On a practical level, you will need to consider the provision of services such as electricity, water and sewerage. In an ideal world, it will be possible to hook the annexe up to the existing services enjoyed by the main property, but this is not always the case. The planning phase will also need to consider the appropriate level of foundations required for the annexe, as well as the best access solutions, especially if the occupant is elderly and uses a wheelchair or motorised mobility vehicle, or who may need to do so in the future. To achieve planning permission within a reasonable period of time it is also advisable to rein in your expectations and opt for a single storey annexe whose size is proportionate to the footprint of the existing property and the plot on which it will be situated.
Vincent Smith of Nottingham builders, Refresh Renovations, believes that any family with children who are looking to live independently or elderly relatives who are in need of care would be advised to investigate the possibility of adding an annexe. ‘The media is awash with stories of the difficulties that young people are facing in buying their first property, so investing in an annexe is a sensible way of allowing them some privacy but also giving them the chance to build up a deposit,’ comments Vincent. ‘At the other end of the scale, when you consider that care home fees can amount to around £1,000 a week, freeing up capital to build an annexe for an elderly parent is one way of preventing their life savings from being handed over to a third party. And the beauty of an annexe is that it will add to your property’s value while also making it more sought-after should you eventually decide to sell it. When you consider that nearly half of care home residents are self-funded, it can only be a benefit to provide a home care solution.
‘At Refresh we have extensive experience of building annexes and we treat them just like any other project. We start by spending time with the client to understand the reasons for the build and what the client is looking to achieve. Once we’re clear about the objectives we move on to a concept and feasibility study which helps us then create drawings and identify a suitable budget. When these are approved and all necessary planning consents have been secured, we move on to the build. We’re in constant communication with the client to keep them in the loop and to guarantee that we’re delivering exactly what they visualised at the beginning. Ultimately, we’re passionate about helping families come together to support the younger generation in making their way in the world and the older generation to enjoy the latter stages of their lives in comfort with their relatives for as long as possible.’
Refresh Renovations are Nottingham builders offering design and build services for annexes, home renovations and extensions. Check our Locations for your nearest Refresh Renovations branch To discuss your project, please get in touch today using the enquiry form listed alongside, or if you would like to submit a more comprehensive enquiry, you can do so on the Get In Touch page.
For information on the costs involved, check out our cost estimates