Novelty accessories are growing in popularity as the cost of sponsorship rockets: How do you install one?

Christmas, of course, is the time when families get together, but unfortunately, it’s also when people first notice that Grandma isn’t getting along well with the house.

And then there’s the concern that the cost of social care or nursing homes could be astronomical. So what do we do?

James Lund-Lack, managing director of specialist builders iHus, thinks he has the answer.

Charming: The Melton accessory by iHus, £118,000. The buildings are well insulated so heat loss is minimal

“Grandma’s factory-built extensions are the perfect solution,” says James. They’re becoming increasingly popular – our sales increased 20 percent last year and 40 percent the year before, thanks in large part to Covid and the financial crisis.

Radio DJ Tony Blackburn bought the iHus granny annex six years ago when his mother-in-law, Connie, now 99, was finding it difficult to live in her patch of London’s East End.

Tony didn’t think a care home would suit the fiercely independent Connie, so he installed a one bedroom annexe with an open plan living room/kitchen that leads onto the garden.

“Kuni was starting to suffer from dementia and I think she found foster home confusing,” Tony says.

“This arrangement means she gets outside help from a care worker but she is surrounded by bits and pieces and we can monitor her.”

There are now several companies selling novelty accessories, including Wee House Company, Smart Care Pods, and Norwegian Log.

I wanted to buy a bungalow, but they all cost over £250,000. Then I learned that I could install a grandma’s annex next door to my daughter and son-in-law’s house for £150,000. It was a no brainer and I am so happy here

Prices range from around £50,000 for the basic pod to £150,000 for a larger model, which is equipped to a high standard.

Their exterior facades are clad in wood or with cool gray panels. Some have vaulted ceilings to create an elegant ski chalet effect and most can be adapted to suit the needs of an individual client.

These include features such as mobility-conscious showers and wet rooms, kitchens with eye-level grills and extra-wide doorways to allow wheelchair access and a walking frame.

High-tech additions include voice-activated switches for lights and heating and web-based security cameras to monitor the elderly’s movements.

Novelty supplements aren’t just for the old and infirm.

It also enables active retirees to make the most of their pension.

perfect solution?  Attachments allow seniors to stay close to family members, while retaining some of their independence

perfect solution? Attachments allow seniors to stay close to family members, while retaining some of their independence

In 2020 Sandy Renson-Smith, 69, was considering moving from her home in Yorkshire, where she had lived for 42 years, to be closer to her daughter Jennifer in Crewe.

“I wanted to buy a bungalow, but all these units cost over £250,000,” says Sandy, a retired teacher. Then I learned that I could get my grandmother’s two-bedroom, timber-framed, beside daughter-in-law’s barn conversion home for £150,000.

“It was a no-brainer and I’m very happy here.”

James takes pride in his company’s environmental credentials. They don’t use concrete that pollutes the atmosphere, their lumber is from sustainable supplies and the decking is made from recyclable materials.

The buildings are well insulated so heat loss is minimal.

How to obtain planning permission for a granny extension

If you decide to build a granny extension you will need some form of planning permission. This may fall under the caravan sites law, which will depend on whether the accessory can be easily picked up and placed on the back of the trailer.

Or you can obtain planning permission in the usual way, in which case success will depend largely on the local council.

As a general rule, you will have to convince them that your annexe is a building belonging to the main house.

It must feed its main services and must be subsisted only by family members. It is very likely to count against you if your home is listed, in a conservation area, national park, or anywhere else where the allowable development rules don’t apply.

Essentially, you will need to prove that the supplement will benefit society and not harm the environment.

The company that builds it usually handles the planning. Once the builders begin building work, it should only take about seven weeks to build the extension.

James Greenwood, of Stacks Property Search, is a big fan of novelty accessories but advises his clients to buy carefully.

“Your neighbors are very important, so consult them before building something like this,” he says.

Much of your home’s value may go back to the garden, so consider location. Will it spoil your view or that of your neighbors?

Also, make sure you have adequate access for vehicles coming and going.

The last issue posed by owning a grandma’s accessory is rarely mentioned – what do you do with it when grandma sadly dies?

79-year-old Tony Blackburn has the answer.

“It would be perfect for guests or a younger member of the family, to save for a mortgage,” he says. Or in my case, maybe I’ll move there myself.

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