If you’re a household that entertains people on a regular basis, or if you live on a property that’s a little off the beaten track and guests often need to stay overnight, then a guest house could be the perfect solution for giving everyone the privacy and space they need.
A guest house is a much more malleable concept than it might immediately appear. A simple space with a bed and perhaps a bathroom will suffice for a lot of households, but this can be expanded to include plumbing for a kitchen, granny flat, or similar living space for those who need it.
Determining precisely both what you desire and can afford can be a tricky estimate. Some of the luxuries afforded to larger guest houses can be very expensive, and doing without them can sacrifice a little space for a huge amount of savings. But they can also give people security and privacy in huge capacities (and stop people pawing across to the main house in the middle of the night in potentially freezing weather for a trip to the bathroom).
What’s in a house?
There’s so much that can go into a guest house. Using Titan’s Class 1 building list, there are a few common features for every price point, and a few extra features for anybody with extra requirements:
Features of different models
A bit of a no-brainer, but a guest house is usually for short or medium-term domicile, which means that you’ll require only a bedroom and maybe a bathroom. If you’re anticipating single visitors, or at most a couple, then you might only need to have the basics.
However, when you start to accommodate entire families, it starts to get a little more complex. Unless you have the resources to source an entire personalised construction project, accommodating larger groups quite often means adding other features out of necessity. This makes sense on a base level, after all - more people means more resources needed for the house, particularly if they have children who might not exactly be the quietest people coming into the main house at night.
If you’re after a single bed, simplistic setup, the Titan 45A, 45B, and 54D might be good points of reference for the dimensions, space, and features of low-feature guest houses (for future reference, the 45 in 45A refers to total square metres, so a 78A would refer to the first 78m² model). All feature a single bedroom and toilet, kitchen capabilities, and a lounge/relaxation space.
On the higher spectrum, early examples of multi-bed setups such as the 54e are simply the prior single-bedroom setups scaled up, while later models such as the 78G begin to bring in features befitting a much larger group of people. At this size, you’re going to start seeing a lot more living room, as well as the emergence of specialised spaces such as an office\workspace. At the largest end of the spectrum, models such as Titan’s 98J house an entire media room for multimedia viewing.
Thinking about permanence
One important point to consider when adding features is precisely how long you’re going to be wanting to use the guest house per guest. If you’re seeking a place for a short term, Airbnb style getaway, or to house weekend guests, you’ll obviously need less features and be able to offload more responsibility onto the main household.
If you’re looking for a place to house an elderly relative, offspring that can’t afford to fully move out or who work on or near the property, or other long term guests, you should consider a house with more permanent fixtures, so to speak.
Your feature list will, to a certain extent, determine the size of your guest house. If a house is meant to have inhabitants who sleep there, there are certain sizing laws you’ll have to comply with, as well as making sure that while compliant with law, your guests don’t feel like sardines in a can.
There’s no specific law on dimensions for a bedroom specifically within Australia, although many architects and real estate agents measure it at a minimum of 2.7 x 3m² for comfortable living. They usually also consider the further question of ‘does it have room for an adult-sized bed, wardrobe, and bedside table?’
A bedroom must have adequate ventilation, and the Australian Building Code necessitates a ceiling height of 2.4m for at least two thirds of the bedroom. On top of this, the light source must be at least in part natural light; an electronic source won't do, which is mainly to stop deep basements being advertised as bedrooms.
Other rooms must have a height of 2.1m, or be instead classified as a utility room such as a cupboard or storage space.
For a single person setup, this would put the minimum, most cramped capability at 3 x 4m² (to include a doorway), but keep in mind that this is about as far from comfortable as the tiny space might imply.
25-30m² is roughly the absolute minimum size you’ll be looking at for one to two people to feel comfortable in (including a bathroom and kitchenette) without causing any physical cramping or pain (which still isn’t saying a whole lot). If you’d like to include any relaxation space or anything else, 45m² will be a comfortable fit for a group of two people to live in, while also having room for others to visit the guest house.
For larger groups, increase by 1.5x times the space for each additional couple that you envisage staying there (after all, you can save space in combined bathrooms and relaxation areas to a point). 60m² is a perfectly acceptable domicile for two couples or a family with multiple children.
Form and function
Once you have a feature-list and a space sorted, the next consideration is making it fit with your house. A granny-flat or guest house should suit your house, but it doesn’t have to have the same level of curb appeal as your main property if you’re locating it in your backyard.
Curb appeal refers to the important factor of resale value due to first impression. Unless this is your home for life, the ability to see a beautiful, functional house from the curb is tantamount for a good sale price. So, if your flat is going to be visible from the street, you’d be advised to give it a redecoration or coat of paint at a minimum (if it’s a kit house) or contract a builder for it to be customised correctly.
If you’re in the backyard though, or curb appeal isn’t as intrinsically important to you, it’s much more likely that you’ll be able to prioritise function over form.
Ask the experts
At Titan, we have plenty of experience helping customers find the perfect guest house or granny flat for their needs, as well as a huge range of options, price points, and features to choose from.
If you’d like to contact us, you can get in touch by calling 13 27 36 during business hours, or through our online contact page.