Garden Annexe: A Practical Alternative to Care Homes
Published: 8 July 2023
Reading Time: 2 minutes 53 seconds
When our older relatives' health starts to decline, it's common to view a residential care home as the primary solution. Alternatively, cohabitation - either by inviting them into your household or vice versa - may come to mind. However, the reality of multi-generational living presents unique challenges. Without clear boundaries, balancing communal and private spaces can be tough, and modifying the home to cater to an older relative's needs might be complex.
An increasingly popular solution that enables multi-generational living while ensuring everyone's personal space and independence is the self-contained garden living annexe. Custom-built to integrate seamlessly into your garden and the unique lifestyles within your family, these standalone dwellings can be tailored to meet your older relatives' accessibility requirements and future needs.
While the upfront cost of a garden living annexe might seem considerable compared to the recurring costs of residential care, it often pays for itself surprisingly quickly. Beyond being a practical solution, these dwellings can significantly increase your property's value.
A Wiltshire family recently faced this decision when both their parents were diagnosed with dementia. Upon careful consideration, they found a purpose-built garden annexe far more appealing and financially prudent than placing their parents in a care home. Working with Swift Unlimited, they created a stylish, modern one-bedroom home in their garden. This arrangement gave their parents independent living while ensuring family support was only a stone's throw away. The annexe was designed with future-proof features, such as wheelchair accessibility, to cater to their parents' evolving needs.
Permanent Garden Homes
While some living annexe designs comply with the Caravan Act - classifying them as mobile homes - Swift Unlimited adopts a different approach. They specialise in designing and constructing annexes as permanent structures. Their comprehensive turnkey service includes expert guidance through the planning approval process and ensuring work complies with Building Control.
Swift Unlimited's garden living annexes match new-build homes in terms of their construction standards, offering a comfortable, energy-efficient dwelling.
Swift Unlimited handles every aspect of the design and construction, delivering a fully commissioned, move-in-ready home for their clients. The foundation system uses ground screws, the number, size, and spacing of which are calculated based on the site conditions and annexe design for each project. Ground screws minimally disrupt your garden and provide an easily levelled base for the build.
The core structure uses Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs), creating a robust, highly insulated envelope that ensures consistent interior temperature all year round. This insulation results in an energy-efficient space. In this instance, the owners opted for a mix of underfloor heating and electric radiators for the colder months.
The annexe exterior features durable, low-maintenance materials - an EPDM membrane for the roof and Western Red Cedar cladding for the walls. The rich, natural tones of the Cedar beautifully contrast with the dark grey door and window frames and fascia boards.
One-Bedroom Garden Home
With dimensions of 9m x 4.25m and standing 2.75m tall, the annexe offers an open-plan living area with views of the family garden. A modern kitchen is neatly situated in one corner of the main room.
Sliding doors, aligned with both interior and exterior floor finishes, enable easy access to the landscaped garden. These doors have low thresholds to prevent tripping, and the internal doorways are wide enough for wheelchair access.
The design includes a hallway leading to a roomy double bedroom and a functional shower room. The thoughtful layout allows access to the shower room from both the hallway and the bedroom via pocket doors, which slide into the wall when open.
Designed as a wet room, the shower room makes it easy for someone to assist with showering if needed.
The bright, modern interior features plastered and decorated walls and ceilings along with durable wooden flooring.
Completed in Four Weeks
Despite being blighted by snow during the SIP installation, the on-site stage of this living annexe was completed in four weeks - an impressive feat.
The project cost £99,000, with Swift Unlimited managing all aspects, including groundworks and connections to mains services, tasks that other companies often require you to arrange separately. The work was approved by the local Building Control department.