Designing an Annex for an Elderly Relative

Granny annexes are a great way to care for a senior while allowing them to continue living independently. If you have an unused annex or are considering building one, here is a guide to creating a home that’s safe and suitable for an elderly person.

Is a Granny Annex the Right Option?

If you are thinking of inviting an elderly parent to live with you, think about your options.

How much care do they need? It might be more appropriate for them to occupy a spare room and live with the family, where you can keep a close eye on them. On the other hand, if they want more independence, an annex with a separate entrance is a better idea.

Could a garage conversion do the job better? Or would they be better off moving into a La Jolla assisted living facility such as Belmont Village? Have the conversation before you decide anything.

Budget Considerations

Think about your budget. Renovating or even building a new annex is going to cost money. Even simple alterations like adding a new kitchen or plumbing a wet room is going to come at a cost. Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend and discuss whether your elderly parent can afford to contribute to the cost.

Renovate Vs Building a New Annex

If there is an existing annex already attached to your home, you might not need to do much work to make it habitable for your senior relative. But if you are thinking about adding an extension to your home, check whether there are any tax and planning implications, although it should add value to the property if you do a good job.

Heating and Plumbing

The new annex will need a source of heat and cooling. Can existing systems be extended, or does a whole system need to be installed? The same applies to plumbing. Can a new bathroom be fitted adjacent to an existing one, so drainage follows the same route? If not, there will be an extra cost involved.


Think about the design and layout of the annex. Do doors need to be wider to accommodate a wheelchair? If so, you will also need to lower door thresholds and install ramps if there is a change of gradient outside.

The kitchen and bathroom need careful planning. Think about fitting grab rails in the bathroom or installing a wet room for ease of use with a wheelchair. Kitchen cabinets will benefit from smooth handles and an easy-to-use faucet.

Flooring is another consideration. Rugs are a slip hazard and a thick-pile carpet won’t work well with a wheelchair.

Install digital services and make sure there are smoke alarms and CO detectors. Exit doors and windows should be secure, and a phone line installed.

Will a second bedroom be needed for overnight carers?

Is your relative bringing their own furniture, or do you need to purchase some?

It’s important to plan a granny annex very carefully so that all parties are happy with the outcome. The last thing anyone wants is to spend a lot of money building an annex, only to find it is unsuitable for the intended inhabitant.