Why care pods are the new granny annexe!

Forget a pokey granny annexe, families are now splashing out on spacious ‘care pods’ to keep elderly relatives comfortable and close to home.

Designed to be installed at the bottom of the garden in a matter of weeks, a ‘care pod’ is a self-contained cabin that gives the resident their independence and their loved ones some peace of mind. 

Interest in these modern mini homes – which can range from 310 sq ft to 1,356 sq ft – has surged over the last 12 months as extended families look for ways to live closer together after being kept apart during the pandemic. 

Factors including fears of Covid clusters in care homes and the rising costs of residential care home fees are also driving demand.

‘Lockdowns have prompted a flood of enquiries from families who realise that living miles away from their elderly relatives, particularly those on their own, makes it very difficult to support them at a time when they need supporting the most,’ explained Nick Forrester of Norwegian Log, which supplies annexes. 

Ultimate comfort: Forget a pokey granny annexe, families are now splashing out on spacious 'care pods' to keep elderly relatives comfortable and close to home. This three-bedroom Mendip model from Norwegian Log starts from £111,318

Ultimate comfort: Forget a pokey granny annexe, families are now splashing out on spacious 'care pods' to keep elderly relatives comfortable and close to home. This three-bedroom Mendip model from Norwegian Log starts from £111,318

Ultimate comfort: Forget a pokey granny annexe, families are now splashing out on spacious ‘care pods’ to keep elderly relatives comfortable and close to home. This three-bedroom Mendip model from Norwegian Log starts from £111,318 

Independent living: Designed to be installed at the bottom of the garden, a 'care pod' is a self-contained cabin that gives the resident their independence and loved ones some peace of mind. Pictured, the Malvern model, which starts from £52,000

Independent living: Designed to be installed at the bottom of the garden, a 'care pod' is a self-contained cabin that gives the resident their independence and loved ones some peace of mind. Pictured, the Malvern model, which starts from £52,000

Independent living: Designed to be installed at the bottom of the garden, a ‘care pod’ is a self-contained cabin that gives the resident their independence and loved ones some peace of mind. Pictured, the Malvern model, which starts from £52,000

Practical touches: The Malvern model comes with an attractive and spacious decking area for time outside

Practical touches: The Malvern model comes with an attractive and spacious decking area for time outside

Practical touches: The Malvern model comes with an attractive and spacious decking area for time outside

How big are ‘care pods’ and how long do they take to install?

Care pods can range in size from between 310 sq ft and 1,356 sq ft.

Installation time depends on the size of the cabin, but Norwegian Log allows for a 4-6 week build time. 

Pre-assembled pieces can either be craned onto the site or can be brought in ‘flat pack’ pieces to be slotted together.

The landowner is responsible for preparing the ground for the build. 

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‘Our annexes can be built in a back garden within months, give peace of mind for both parties and, very importantly, provide the ability to still have their own independence.

‘The prospect of high residential care costs means that many families were already seeking alternative solutions to looking after their loved ones but the pandemic has made them realise they should do something sooner rather than later.’

Duncan Holmes, a director of Modular Works Ltd., which offers signature ‘carepods’, told The Times there has been a ‘threefold increase in inquiries from last year.’ 

Residential care homes fees cost an average of £700 a week, or £78,400 for two years. 

In contrast, a one-bedroom annexe from provider Norwegian Log starts from £50,000, with prices rising to around £80,000 for a fully fitted module. 

Modular Works Ltd’s one-bedroom starter ‘carepod’ for £65,000.

At the other end of the scale is the sprawling four-bedroom Cambrian cabin from Norwegian Log, which costs from £110,089. 

Cabins from Norwegian Log’s range can be craned directly into the garden in small sections, or can be broken up into ‘flat pack’ pieces, allowing them to be carried down the side of a property or even through doors. 

Preparing the ground is the responsibility of the property owner, the team at Norwegian Log then comes in to assemble the home in around 4-6 weeks.  

Fully fitted kitchen: This view of the two-bedroom Malvern, which starts from £72,000, shows the fully fitted kitchen, which can be installed at an extra cost

Fully fitted kitchen: This view of the two-bedroom Malvern, which starts from £72,000, shows the fully fitted kitchen, which can be installed at an extra cost

Fully fitted kitchen: This view of the two-bedroom Malvern, which starts from £72,000, shows the fully fitted kitchen, which can be installed at an extra cost

Cosy: This two-bedroom Cresta model, which starts from £52,000, offers a second bedroom for a carer if needed

Cosy: This two-bedroom Cresta model, which starts from £52,000, offers a second bedroom for a carer if needed

Cosy: This two-bedroom Cresta model, which starts from £52,000, offers a second bedroom for a carer if needed 

What about planning permission? 

Care pods might require planning permission, but not necessarily. 

Under the Caravan Sites Act, a mobile home, which includes habitable structures that can be easily moved do not need to have planning permission. 

This means you could feasibly buy and install an annexe such as some of the models above without it. 

Individual companies are able to advise whether this is the case for individual models.    

‘The decision will also depend on the neighbours, the local council’s prevailing attitude towards garden annexes and whether your home is listed, in a conservation area, a national park or any other location where permitted development rules do not apply,’ noted The Times. 

To be 100 per cent sure there will be no issues, it is best to secure planning permission. 

However this might lead to limitations being placed on the annexe’s size and design.

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The timeframe is extended by another month if a full ‘fit out’ is required, with essentials like plumbing, heating and electrics added. 

If a buyer chooses not to take this pricier options, plans can be provided to pass onto a contractor.

The size of the care pod changes dramatically based on the company and model chosen.

The smallest model available through Norwegian Logs is the Kelso one-bedroom model, which has a footprint of just 310 sq ft. 

At the other end of the scale is the four-bedroom Cambrian log cabin, which covers 1,356 sq ft.

The specifics of a granny annexe or a ‘carepod’ depend on the company but generally they are designed to be self-contained units where someone could comfortably live alone. 

Exteriors are clad in durable materials that are easy on the eye, like wood or grey panels, and some come complete with their own wrap-around patios or covered terraces. 

They can be configured to suit individual tastes and requirements. 

Voice-activated features can be added to the Modular Works Ltd. ‘carepods’, allowing residents to control the lights, heating and other aspects of the house.  CCTV monitoring can also be included if required.  

Most companies offer fully furnished care pods where someone could move in immediately.

In the case of the most basic Kelso model from Norwegian Log, this involves a fully fitted kitchenette complete with hob, oven, and worktops, and space for a two-seater table. 

There is also a lounge area with space for a two-seater sofa, armchair and TV. 

In the bedroom there is space for a double or queen bed, wardrobe, and bedside table.

There are five double-glazed windows, while the interlocking log construction in the classic Norwegian style, creates immensely strong, draught-free homes that stay cosy in the winter and cool in the summer. 

Under the Caravan Sites Act, a mobile home, which includes habitable structures that can be easily moved do not need to have planning permission. 

Stylish: The grey finish on this bathroom is sleek and modern, while the space remains accessible and easy to navigate

Stylish: The grey finish on this bathroom is sleek and modern, while the space remains accessible and easy to navigate

Stylish: The grey finish on this bathroom is sleek and modern, while the space remains accessible and easy to navigate

Flooded with light: The two-bedroom Stavanger starts from £86,205 and boasts large picture windows

Flooded with light: The two-bedroom Stavanger starts from £86,205 and boasts large picture windows

Flooded with light: The two-bedroom Stavanger starts from £86,205 and boasts large picture windows

This means you could feasibly buy and install an annexe such as some of the models above without it. 

Individual companies are able to advise whether this is the case for individual models.    

‘The decision will also depend on the neighbours, the local council’s prevailing attitude towards garden annexes and whether your home is listed, in a conservation area, a national park or any other location where permitted development rules do not apply,’ noted The Times. 

To be 100 per cent sure there will be no issues, it is best to secure planning permission. 

However this might lead to limitations being placed on the annexe’s size and designed. 

Stylish and self-contained: The two-bedroom Cresta cabin, which starts from just £52,114

Stylish and self-contained: The two-bedroom Cresta cabin, which starts from just £52,114

Stylish and self-contained: The two-bedroom Cresta cabin, which starts from just £52,114

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