Why having an annexe like Tony Blackburn's could be a great investment if you get it right

Yorkshire-based annexe builder iHus has found the perfect ambassador in the much-loved BBC Radio 2 DJ Tony Blackburn, who has a legion of fans, many of whom have reached their golden years. The recent appointment isn’t the usual case of “pick a well-known celebrity, any celebrity will do”. Tony’s endorsement of the brand is based on personal experience.

The Radio Two Sounds of the Sixties presenter bought a ready-made annexe from Doncaster firm iHus six years ago and is genuinely thrilled with it.

The purchase allows his elderley mother-in-law to live independently while being just yards away from the Blackburn family’s home.

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Tony says: “With the young unable to afford to leave home and the old at risk of isolation, more families are opting to live together and an annexe allows you to keep your family close, while also giving them independence.

One of the largest iHus annexesOne of the largest iHus annexes
One of the largest iHus annexes

“iHus was the perfect solution for me and our family. It was a lifestyle choice and our annexe gives us the flexibility we need while providing support for older family members.

“It provides a sensible alternative to care home living and it works with our own family living situation. You’ve got privacy when you want it, you’ve got support when you need it and you’ve got company when you’d like it. “

He adds: “I honestly believe that one solution to Britain’s ageing population and the worrying cost of care, would be to move towards multi-generational living.”

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It is already popular in other countries and is fast gaining ground here in Britain with “annexe” now one of the top search terms on property portal Rightmove.

Tony Blackburn, now ambassador for iHus, with the firm's owner Trevor SmeatonTony Blackburn, now ambassador for iHus, with the firm's owner Trevor Smeaton
Tony Blackburn, now ambassador for iHus, with the firm's owner Trevor Smeaton

Trevor Smeaton spotted the trend early and launched iHus 11 years ago and has built 280 plus annexes nationwide to date. Prices start at £70,000 for a one-bedroom property.

They come with screw pile foundations and are timber-framed, insulated and timber clad with electric heating and hot water systems installed.

Trevor warns that due diligence is required when buying an annexe as where there is a hot market, there are always rogue traders .

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The National Annexe Providers Charter, www.napc.uk, is a useful website. It specialises in obtaining planning permission for annexes and its blogs are an informative read. Visit www.napc.uk/news/

Inside one of the larger iHus annexesInside one of the larger iHus annexes
Inside one of the larger iHus annexes

Requirements may vary when it comes to planning permission but generally your annexe should only take up to a third of your garden and must be subservient to the main house and draw its services from the main home. It must also adhere to building regulations.

Remember that planning rules are stricter and may vary in National Parks, Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and conservation areas.

As for council tax, contact your local authority for details but generally, as long as the annexe is in use by a family member or the main house owner, this is payable at the reduced rate of 50 per cent of your banding, though if it is occupied by dependent relatives you may be exempt.

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A relative is usually classed as dependent if they are over the age of 65, disabled or severely mentally impaired.

Corner House coms with a detached cottage and is for sale with CundallsCorner House coms with a detached cottage and is for sale with Cundalls
Corner House coms with a detached cottage and is for sale with Cundalls

If a relative is contributing towards the cost of an annexe or paying for it outright then have legal documents drawn up stating contributions and wishes.

Otherwise, mayhem and heartache could ensue if you split with a partner or those living in the annexe pass away.

While ready-made is a largely hassle-free option, another way of getting a home within a home is via permitted development as an extension to an existing property. This could be a side extension or the conversion of a large garage/outbuilding into self-contained accommodation.

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Simon Blyth reports that his estate agency has seen a rise in the number of properties with an annexe. He says: “I think that’s because it is now more common to have relatives moving in as they get older and fuel poverty is now playing a part too.”

He adds that with the increased demand has come a rise in quality and a welcome change of name.

“They used to be known as granny annexes but that term is dying, which is a good thing. Annexes are also getting better, especially as the relatives who are moving into them often help to finance the building.

“Because of that, those viewing homes with an annexe see it as a luxurious extra not just somewhere to bung the mother-in-law.”

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He adds a caveat: “They are a big selling point but only if they are in the right place. Losing your garden to build an annexe is not a good idea.”

Andrew Wood, Head of Residential at Cundalls estate agents in Malton, agrees and adds: “An annexe has become much more sought-after and we are seeing more people combining their finances to buy a property with this additional accommodation, usually couples and their parents.

“The latter ideally want a two-bedroom annexe with storage for their suitcases and Christmas tree, otherwise they feel like they’ve got the poor end of the deal.”

For details on iHus and its show homes visit: www.iHusannexe.com