What is a Granny Pod?

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This is a senior housing trend that is gaining in popularity!

Of all the decisions that have to be made in the retirement years, housing solutions are one of the most critical. This is true because it effects your safety, physical and mental wellbeing and finances at such a deep level.

There are many good housing options available to seniors today such as:

  • age-restricted communities
  • continuing care retirement communities
  • assisted living
  • independent living
  • nursing homes
  • aging in place

It’s this aging in place that we will discuss today and especially to see how a “granny pod” may fit into those plans.
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Before we continue, aging in place is a great choice for many but not for everyone. Some seniors may require more care than this option can provide.

It is very important to discuss this with your doctor, physical therapist and loved ones to see what is best choice for your needs.


What is a Granny Pod?

A granny pod is a detached unit from the main house on the property.

Granny pods can also be referred to as:

  • guest house
  • elder cottage
  • carriage house
  • granny flat
  • coach house
  • alley flat
  • casitas
  • accessory dwelling unit (ADU)

This type of ADU is more than an additional unit on a property but a thought out living accommodation designed with the safety of seniors in mind. Some of these special may include:

  • wide doors
  • slip-resistant floors
  • rounded countertops
  • access and threshold transition ramps
  • lighted floorboards
  • well lit stairs and hallways
  • handrails and banisters
  • grip bars in the bathroom shower
  • outdoor motion activated lighting
  • home security and elder monitoring systems (See a great senior solution on Amazon called Alexa Together)

Alexa Together Video

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In short, granny pods are a modernized form of an old-age problem where aging family members live close together to increase a senior’s safety while giving them their freedom as well. Truly a win-win!

These types of tiny houses on average costs between $40,000 to $125,000 to build depending on the amenities and other bells and whistles  included in them. 

This infographic shows the different types of ADUs. The “granny pod” solution is the detached type that is shown in the lower right side of the graphic.


accessory dwelling unit variations infographic

Are Granny Pods Even Legal?

Since granny pod units are built on residential properties, you must seek the necessary approval from your local government agencies. The tiny apartments take up the property space which comes with local restrictions. They will receive services by hooking up to the main property’s current power, water, and sewage line so local governments will have to approve that things are done according to code. Because of the growing demand many communities are easing the restrictions on ADUs but you have to check your local laws regarding granny pods before you start to build one on your property. 

Additional obstacles may be faced if you are in the proximity to certain parks or if you are a part of the homeowners association. In either case, you would be required to get an exemption or variance. You can check here at Accessory Dwelling if an ADU is permissible in your area. What are the rules where I live?

Besides seeking permission, you need to check the feasibility of connecting the septic local power, sewer, and water providers. 

Benefits Of Granny Pods


granny pod social benefit

Be close to family.


granny pod indepenent benefit


While maintaining your independence. 

Did you know that around 10,000 Americans cross the age of 65 every year? That means the need and demand for granny pods are also increasing every year. An elderly family member can live safely and comfortably in these units because they get their freedom along with the ease of being able to connect with close family. That’s like having your cake and eating it too!

If you like the entire idea of granny pods and are considering building one, you should know about some more of the benefits. 

Easily connect with close family

Probably one of the best things about granny pods is that they keep elders close to their loved ones. That means seniors get emotional and social support that they need without compromising their freedom. 

Safety Features

Another interesting thing about granny pods is that they are packed with customized safety features. Most of the tiny apartments have high-tech safety items that traditional homes lack. 

One can easily find features like voice-activated emergency communication systems, bathroom grab bars, and hand railings. 


It all depends on the type of granny pod you build, what the taxes are in your area and what service extras that you may require (house keeping, personal monitoring, care taker and the like).

Let us see how a granny pod may compare to assisted living senior care. According to the Genworth Cost of Care Survey 2018, the national median cost for assisted living per month is $4,000. Nursing home care of course is much more than this.

 The coach house option as we said has many variables to it but for a simple comparison say a mortgage of $100,000 was used to build it. A monthly payment on a 30 year mortgage for $100,000 is about $477.42. Let us hypothetically add to the to following monthly expenses:

  • $477.42 mortgage
  • $100 dwelling insurance
  • $200 property taxes
  • $200 housekeeping (maid service) according to homeguide.com

So the coach house option subtotal to this point is roughly $977.42 per month.

Caretaker costs vary so much by state and also depends on what type of care is needed and if full-time or part-time care is needed. This will have to be calculated according to your personal need and figured in accordingly.

To do this right you will have to also add in any other expenses that are included in the assisted living option such as:

  • utilities
  • personal monitoring
  • food
  • entertainment

to name a few.

Even with such a brief look at costs it is easy to see that an accessory unit could prove to be cost effective over the assisted living option but that will depend on what your personal requirements and needs actually are.

Increases Property Value

The property owner who adds a granny pod, will see an increase in the property’s overall value which is a good benefit as well. 

Prolonged Aging-In-Place

Lastly, the granny pod option may allow the older adult the ability to “age in place” for more years before needing to consider any of the other senior living options.

The ADU expenses may be offset by providing some rental income

The rise in popularity of short term rental units were recently made popular by online companies such as airbnb. If the senior go should go on vacation or decides to temporarily stay in the main home with the family for a few nights, the granny pod can then be freed up to be used as a rental income source. This may offset some of the costs of ownership and also make this option even more attractive. Here is a good article that may provide more insight. airbnb rental legalities

Granny Pods Square Foot Requirement 

Typically the size of a granny pod is somewhere between 300 and 900 square feet. So once you know a plan that you like run it by your local code enforcement to see if it meets their requirements. Usually they have codes on how close building structures can be from other structures on the property and how close they can be to fences and property lines.

How Much Do Granny Pods Cost?

The price of granny pods varies due to several factors such as the specific features, amenities, and architecture of the structure. 

But it is possible to find a granny pod at an affordable price starting at around $45,000. But if you are in search of a tiny high-tech apartment that has everything, you will have to increase your budget to well over 6 figures. 


Is granny pod worth the price?

It is easy to see that the low cost of an ADU and the many benefit that they bring to the social needs of the senior make them an attractive housing consideration. 

They keep aging loved ones close which will bring you greater peace of mind as they age. It seems that the icing on the cake is the fact that your property value will go up as well making constructing an elder cottage, a coach house, an in-law suite, a granny pod or whatever you like to call it a very promising option indeed!


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