Proposed Secondary Dwelling Ashgrove

    Secondary dwelling design brief

    Looking to provide a separate dwelling for close relatives, our clients approached us to discuss their options of building a granny flat or secondary dwelling at the rear of their property. With a generous block of 710 square metres, the existing two-storey timber home was centrally located on the block with a rear garage on the boundary. In the long-term, our clients were hoping to use the separate structure for rental opportunities or combine the two structures into one larger family home.

    Master planning is an important consideration when designing homes. It provides flexibility and allows the transformation of the design as lifestyle requirements change throughout time.

    Our Pre-Design consultation raised the concerns of the homeowners that they wanted the new dwelling to maintain the character feel of the original home. Our design had to retain the garage at the rear of the property and develop a solution for a new dwelling to connect to the existing home while offering privacy to the occupant and the neighbouring properties.

    Future-proof options

    While the development of our concept was primarily as a granny flat for close relatives, the secondary dwelling’s design needed to factor in an option of becoming a rental property. Our design, therefore, had to cater for the rental occupant’s self-containment needs and privacy.

    Our clients were also looking for a solution that could provide the ability for the new dwelling to be combined with the main house at a later date, effectively becoming a five bedroom home.

    Our Concept Design phase offered two solutions to provide options which satisfied the competing needs of privacy and connectivity.


    The dwelling’s inclusions were specified to include two bedrooms with robes and desk spaces, one bathroom with separate water closet including a basin. A kitchenette, dining and lounge space with a small covered outdoor area, providing a private exterior living and entertaining zone was also requested.

    The rear yard would require a minimal amount of excavation work to level the block and provide the footprint for the new dwelling’s construction.  A new retaining wall with drainage would resolve water run-off issues from neighbouring properties and frame the northern- facing courtyards.

    Due to the emphasis on providing a low maintenance solution, landscaping was modified to ensure the outlook from the main house was both attractive and provided privacy from both perspectives.

    Option 1 – A two-storey dwellingsecondary dwelling ashgrove option 1

    Our first option was to propose a new secondary dwelling be built above and next to the existing garage. The first floor’s design contained two bedrooms with large windows overlooking the northern aspect and providing natural breezes for the occupants. To the south, window openings with fixed timber screens would provide both sun protection and privacy. The ground floor area would contain the living spaces and open to the outdoors through a large sliding door.

    This separate two-storey structure could provide connectivity to the existing house through a new indoor-outdoor deck space, constructed from the current rear enclosed verandah at a later date. It was proposed that the area would require a new skillion roof over sailing the existing house roof and fixed aluminium louvre screens to create an indoor/outdoor room.

    Option 2 – Single level dwelling

    secondary dwelling ashgrove option 2

    The second option was a single level dwelling which fulfilled the emphasis on maintaining the character of the main home and offered the benefit of improved accessibility for the occupant by having everything on one level. This option would be suitable if the home was to house older family members for whom stairs may inhibit their enjoyment and comfort.

    The ground floor of this design could connect back to the existing house via a roofed deck off the existing verandah at the rear of the main house.

    Lifestyle Focus

    The design intent of both options was to create a secondary dwelling with a lifestyle-orientated focus, ensuring adequate breezes and natural light permeate the homes and assuring the privacy of both sets of occupants.

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