Granny Flat vs Tiny Home

Which is the best choice for your relative?

Granny Flat 4 edit

With house prices and the cost of living continuing to rise, granny flats are skyrocketing in popularity as an affordable option for a secondary dwelling. They’re not only for granny’s (or grandpa’s!) but also in-laws, adult children, family friends and even tenants if you’re looking for an cost-efficient investment option. 

Granny flats are typically defined as a small unit or apartment and are usually detached from your main house. A granny flat should ideally be completely self-contained. 

Most people build granny flats on slabs which makes them a permanent structure, however with the introduction of tiny homes to the market, this no longer has to be the case.

Tiny homes can be an attractive alternative to a traditionally built granny flat for a number of reasons. They contain all the living features of a granny flat such as kitchen facilities, a shower, flushing toilet, dining/living areas as well as sleeping areas.

There are two ways to build a tiny home:

  • Constructed on a slab just like a traditionally built granny flat. Tiny homes on slabs are the more affordable choice as most of the framework is made in a factory then assembled on-site. 
  • Alternatively, they can be designed and kept on a trailer with wheels so that they aren’t classified as a permanent structure. 

Tiny homes on both slabs and on trailers can be constructed to be certified and engineered to meet any required high wind ratings, cyclone ratings or bushfire attack ratings. 

This article will help you weigh up the differences and similarities between traditionally built granny flats and tiny homes on trailers so that you can make the best choice for you and your family. 

Granny Flat 3 edit


Navigating council requirements for granny flats and tiny homes 

Different councils have different rules in place in regards to what defines a granny flat and whether you need development approval to build one. For example, if you live in Brisbane City Council and want to build a granny flat as a permanent structure on a slab, you may need to lodge a development application

As part of lodging your development approval, you’ll need to include details about the floor plans, engineering specs, wind ratings as well as an energy report. This process can be a bit time consuming and costly, but it’s necessary if you want your granny flat to be classified as a fixed structure.  

On top of council costs, permanent foundations can be expensive. You need to consider soil conditions, the amount of excavation, labour and materials required.

On the other hand, you can bypass the whole development approval process by opting for a tiny home on wheels. Tiny houses which are kept on trailers are technically considered to be ‘caravans’ in Australia. So no development approval is needed.

Granny Flat 2 edit

Placement on your property 

Most councils have maximum ‘site cover' rules. This refers to the proportion of your land which is allowed to be covered by buildings which includes your main house and granny flat. Boundary setbacks and distance from existing dwellings also apply for granny flats to help protect privacy and help with property maintenance.

If your block of land is small, these rules may pose some logistical challenges as to whether you can legally fit a granny flat on your land or where it can be placed. 

Tiny homes on trailers however give you much more flexibility. They can be placed almost anywhere on your land, so long as the ground is relatively flat, and they can be moved around if needed. You can have a tiny home trailer right up against your main house or fence if you so choose to. 

In regards to how many tiny homes on trailers you can have on your land, different councils have different rules. In the case of many councils, you can have one tiny home on your property. But to have more than two, you need special permission. It’s important to check with your local council about their specific regulations before purchasing a tiny home. 

Increasingly, councils are embracing tiny houses as a viable way for people to live. The team at Alphaline Tiny Homes can help point you in the right direction, so speak to us today to learn more.


What size granny flat or tiny home?

Tiny homes are generally designed to be…well…fairly small. This is often why people overlook them as an alternative to traditional granny flats. 

While there aren’t any official statistics on the average size of a tiny home in Australia, generally speaking a tiny home on a trailer would be thought of as a dwelling that is 37 square metres or less. However they can be custom designed to be larger. The width and length of homes on trailers need to be restricted in order to comply with road towing rules.

This is in contrast to slab built granny flats and tiny homes which range in size from 40 square metres to 100 square metres. There’s more room for storage and general liveability, so if you or your relative feel that some extra space is needed, either a slab-built granny flat or tiny home may be a better choice compared to a house on a trailer. 


Disability access 

Granny Flat 1 edit

Contrary to popular belief, tiny homes on trailers can actually be designed to be wheelchair accessible, just like slab-built granny flats. 

Many tiny home designs have a loft for the main sleeping area which is accessible by a ladder or stairs. However, this isn’t optimal for everyone, especially if you’re trying to accommodate an older relative. 

Having a bedroom on the ground floor is certainly possible in a tiny home. Just keep in mind that you’ll need to opt for a design to be able to fit the bed, kitchen, bathroom and living areas all on the same level. Check out our Maddison, Eden and Retreat models for examples of spacious single level designs. 

Other accessibility features which can be incorporated into a tiny home include:

  • No lips at doors for door tracks
  • All smooth floors
  • Wider than standard door openings
  • Lower height of light switches
  • Ramp up to the external door

A slab-built granny flat or tiny home is a fixed building, so it can only ever be sold if the whole property is sold along with it. In comparison, tiny homes of trailers can be sold as separate items, or moved to other properties, giving you flexibility if your living arrangements ever need to change. 


Alphaline Tiny Homes specialises in slab-built tiny homes as well as tiny homes on trailers 

Tiny houses can offer a more affordable and streamlined construction process compared to traditionally built granny flats. 

Choosing to go with a custom design is a great option to ensure the layout and design fits the needs and mobility of your relatives.

If you’re interested in purchasing an Alphaline tiny home, the first step is to meet with one of our friendly consultants to have a no obligation chat. We’d love to discover your ideas and share some of ours. Click here to book a consultation today

Learn how to maximise space in your tiny home



Pin It on Pinterest