Dual Living Zone Homes Making Brisbane Housing Affordable

Dual Living Zone Homes Making Brisbane Housing Affordable

Tips and Advice

Zone HomeThere is no doubt that in this climate of rising prices it’s getting harder for many people to enter the property market. But dual living homes, also known as ‘zone homes’, can change all of that and with the new Brisbane City Council’s City Plan 2014 set to allow secondary dwellings on smaller blocks, it’s an option that is set to become commonplace in Brisbane.

Dual living homes in Brisbane are nothing new, we have been doing them for some time now. In fact, we believe that when it comes to dual living home designs in Brisbane, we are right up there with the very best. But although the concept of dual living homes is not new, in recent times they have become increasingly popular.

Rising house prices, electricity bills, grocery bills etc have resulted in many people looking at buying a home as little more than a pipe dream. But dual living homes mean that these people now have a realistic option to get into the property market, as rental returns on part of their home can help with mortgage repayments and associated costs.

How zone homes work

There are two ways that dual living properties can work. The most obvious is that the two dwellings are completely separate buildings on the same block of land. A granny flat is the perfect example of this style of separate self-contained premises. They are a great option where space and access permits. Barriers such as fences, hedges or other forms of borders can help keep the two buildings separate giving the advantage of privacy with all the benefits of the additional rental income they can bring in.

We have designed a number of these over the years and most people are familiar with the concept. However not as many people seem to be familiar with the concept of dual living under the one roof. These dual dwellings are commonly referred to as zone homes.

Let me explain how they work …

On the outside, a zoned home looks like any other home. But on the inside, it is actually 2 separate dwellings. How separate these residences are will often depend on who is intended to live in each.

For example, if the home is to be used by intergenerational family members e.g. parents and siblings, the home may be zoned for each family group (parents and children) without walls physically blocking one part of the home from another.

However, if the intention is to rent one of the dwellings out to another person or family, the two dwellings may be completely separate on the inside even if they share the same roofline. In this instance, each separate ‘residence’ has its own entry, its own living areas, kitchens and bathrooms etc. The one house in effect acts as two separate units.

Great design is crucial

This is not a new concept, as developers have been renovating and splitting homes to turn them into dual living spaces for years. However, the concept has now been taken to a whole new level, where new homes are being designed with dual living in mind right from the outset.

The idea behind dual living homes is that they remain two separate residences initially, but with the option to turn them into one family home at some point in the future. This allows the owners of the home to rent out half of the home and use that rental income to pay down their mortgage. Once they are in a position of needing more space and not needing the additional rental income they can then convert the home from dual living back into a single residence.

And this is where great design comes in.

The design of a dual living home needs to create two beautiful dwellings that are comfortable for the owners to live in with another that will achieve maximum rental returns. But in addition to this, the design can and should allow for transforming the property back into a beautiful single home with a minimum of fuss and expense. A well-designed zone home will only require the addition of a couple of doors and maybe the removal of a wall or two, to go from being two homes into one.

The advantage of dual living homes

As I’ve just mentioned, dual living homes are a great way to get into the property market, allowing first home buyers the chance to buy a home and have their mortgage payments, as well as things like rates and maintenance, offset by the rental returns they get on half of their property.

But dual living homes can also be of benefit to older retirees, looking to help fund their retirement. As their families grow up and leave home people often find themselves needing less space. Converting their home into a dual living residence allows them to stay in part of their family home whilst gaining valuable rental returns on the other part of their property. It’s a real win/win, particularly if the other part of the property is rented out to family members like grandchildren just starting out.

Dual living homes have started to become more popular than the granny flats of old. Having two homes sharing the same foundations, roofline and external walls offers significant savings whilst maintain more yard space – something that I believe will become increasingly important in the coming years.

But the key to success is having a truly great design. And that is where we come in. So if you’re interested in converting your existing home into a dual living property, or having a dual living property developed from scratch, contact us today and let us show you the possibilities.

Dion Seminara Architect


We are experts at home design, renovations and new homes and ensure good value for money outcomes.

Hi, I am Dion Seminara, practicing architect and licensed general builder for 30 years as well as an environmental sustainable design (ESD) expert. I graduated from Queensland University of Technology (QUT) with honours, QLD in 1989. Registered as an architect in 1991 and registered as a builder in 1992, I am also a fellow member of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA). Having received 12 ArCHdes Residential Architecture Awards, LJ Hooker Flood Free Home Design Award and the 2016 AIA Regional Commendation for Public Architecture, my expertise with both residential renovation (to all types of houses, especially Queenslanders, 50s/60s/80s), new contemporary homes and luxury residences has earned me a reputation as one of Brisbane's architectural specialists in lifestyle design architecture, interior design and landscape design.