Problem Solving When Building An Annexe For Your Relatives

With the UK’s population ageing and many people living longer (and more active) lives than in the past the care industry is facing considerable stress. For families with older relatives who require care, the options are not always attractive, as an increasing number of horror stories about both care homes and home care services litter the news. Ideally, elderly or disabled relatives should be assisted in staying in their own homes and leading independent lives. However, for many families, the alternative solution comes in the form of a ‘granny’ annex, and extending your home to provide additional accommodation for a relative is an increasingly popular way to ensure that they are receiving the right level of quality care for their needs. It can also allow them that all important independence. But before you start digging the foundations what do you need to know?


Granny Annexe Assistance

A disabled facilities grant may be available towards developing or adapting your home (or that of the person requiring the care). Although worth up to £30,000 the grant is not usually available for creating an extension to your home, though there are some exceptions. A grant may be available to extend in order to create an ‘amenity’ room (usually a bathroom or kitchen). If you’re planning to house a disabled or elderly relative a ground floor bathroom may be necessary and may be eligible for some grant assistance.

Red Tape and Regulations

Planning permission regulations have been relaxed to some extent in relation to domestic extensions. If the property has not been previously extended (by yourself or previous owners) it should have permitted development rights which will allow you to extend within certain limits. The government has introduced some changes recently which will run for a period of three years up until May 2016. Different limits apply to detached and attached houses and further restrictions may apply if your house falls in a protected landscape or conservation area. For information on extension sizes and limits in your own area consult with your local authority or visit the Planning Portal. Building regulations will apply to the actual build and these cover not only the structure but plumbing and electrical installations. If you’re adding a bathroom or kitchen the regulations that you will need to consider will be more detailed, but your builder or architect will be able to offer advice and builders, in particular, will be fully conversant with the current regulations.

In-built Independence

The design and layout of an extension for a relative will depend on a number of factors, particularly on the needs of the individual involved. For those with limited care needs a greater level of independence will be a significant requirement, which could mean creating a separate kitchen, bath/shower room, living area and bedroom. In effect this will create a self-contained unit allowing your relative complete independence but offering the peace of mind for you. Where higher levels of care are required it may make sense to create simply an additional en-suite bedroom extension. In this latter case some thought should be given to the size of room, larger being better to ensure that there is adequate living space.

The Old Ones are the Best

Extending your home to offer additional living space for a relative may seem like a costly option, however, compared to the long term costs of care at home or residential or nursing care in a home, the option can be very affordable indeed. The idea of having older relatives to live with you is nothing new and is, in fact, the traditional way in which to look after older family members. As those family members will no doubt remind you, the old ones are the best.


Katie Latchford is a freelance writer, enthusiastic DIY builder and carer; if you’re planning a house extension, Manchester builders and architects can offer practical advice and experience.