Stuart Flint

Home from home

As the number of young people living with parents continues to grow, creating “versatile” additional accommodation is proving to be lucrative for many families.

The “graddy” annex

They used to be called granny annexes. But now the home extensions or separate outbuildings – which traditionally housed ageing relatives – are being renamed ‘graddy’ annexes, in light of the soaring number of young people – particularly those who have just graduated from higher education – living at home. 

Government figures show that the total number of 20- to 34-year-olds living at home rose significantly from 2.7 million in 1996 to 3.3 million in 2015 (around one in four).

Home living for longer

A study by insurance giant Aviva in mid-2017 found that the young people interviewed expected to be, on average, 28 years of age before they moved out, and one in 12 (8%) said they didn’t ever expect to leave their current residence.

The same survey found that one-third of those questioned aged 16-34 said they didn’t expect to ever own a home, and a fifth (21%) predicted they’d only own a home if and when they inherited one.

Changes in family patterns

There is no doubt that younger people living at home is more of an issue, but there are significant regional variations across the country, so we must be careful about making assumptions about any particular area.

Research in the East Midlands, for example, suggested that although children are moving back home for a while, they are not remaining there for excessively long periods. 

Family living patterns are definitely changing, so it certainly makes sense for homeowners to consider maximising their assets and creating flexible additional accommodation that could be used for any number of purposes, from graduate living to housing dependant older relatives.

Your versatile home

If the space is designed with maximum versatility in mind, it could at other times be let as a holiday home. Airbnb and similar portals mean people can run holiday lets in a much more flexible way than ever before and when the space is unlet, it could be used by the homeowner for guests or as a home office. 

Buildings that are currently used primarily for storage may make ideal ancillary living accommodation, but redundant space in homes, garages and farm buildings could also all offer potential for possible redevelopment as additional housing space. 

Other considerations

Changes to planning regulations in recent years under permitted development rights, mean that homeowners can achieve a relatively cheap and acceptable outcome. Homeowners should get advice to check the situation for their own property, but ancillary accommodation with planning conditions to prevent severance from the main dwelling can often be easy wins, and add significant capital value. 

One final thing to consider is how you and whoever will be living in the additional space will all get on living together. Graduation may be distant memory for parents, but for family harmony and maximum value enhancement, any ancillary accommodation should be as self-contained as possible. That sort of space and freedom is a positive and important factor for the whole family.

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