Considering that the senior population continues to grow, it's no surprise that families are flexing their creative muscles in order for older folks to remain at home. In 2014, roughly 19% of Americans (or 60.6 million people) lived with multiple generations under the same roof. And one way to ensure that your aging relatives can live comfortably while maintaining their privacy and independence is to create an in-law suite in your home. But before you begin, you'll want to know a bit more about what goes into this process and what you'll want to prioritize during the renovations.
You'll have a few different options to consider when choosing the space for your future in-law suite. While you could build a new addition or a standalone structure for this purpose, neither of those options is the most cost-effective. In most cases, you'll end up converting a garage, an attic, a basement, or an unused room within the house. Garages will require HVAC setup, insulation, electrical outlets, plumbing, and other adjustments in order to meet residential building codes and to ensure comfortable and safe living will bee possible. For an attic conversion, you'll need to assess the habitable space, the stairwell, lighting, HVAC, insulation, and flooring issues. And with a basement, you'll need to ensure that it meets the legal egress requirements to prioritize safe escape or entry during an emergency, as well as dehumidification and flooding prevention. The space you choose will largely depend on your budget, the amount of square footage available, and the main priorities for these in-law suites (which we'll discuss below).
Before you launch into any renovations, you'll need to determine the features that must be included in the finished in-law suite. For one thing, privacy is a must. Certainly, you'll want to invest in window treatments, which 15.88% of survey respondents aged 18 to 29 purchased in 2018, to add some extra privacy to windows (especially if your relatives will be on the ground floor). But you'll also want to consider adding a separate entryway so that occupants can come and go without traipsing through the entire house. Ideally, the in-law suite should feel separate enough that no one feels overcrowded but connected enough that the entire family can feel free to spend time together when they want to.
Another important point to keep in mind is independence. An in-law suite needs to be a fully functional entity in and of itself. In other words, it needs its own bathroom and its own kitchen (or at least a kitchenette), as well as appliances and other conveniences, to ensure that people living there don't need to rely too heavily on the other rooms outside the suite. Since homeowners remodel more than 10.2 million kitchens and 14.2 million bathrooms each year, you'll need to add both of these rooms to your remodeling list.
When it comes time to remodel, you'll also need to consider universal design and accessibility. While your relatives may not yet have any mobility issues or disabilities to be worried about, that may not always be the case. If they wish to age in place, you'll need to make certain that the design concepts used throughout the in-law suite will remain functional even as physical or mental capacities deteriorate. That may mean adding in wider doorways, adjusting the height of toilets and bathtubs, choosing non-slip flooring, or opting for easy-to-handle hardware on doors and drawers. The better you can plan ahead for the future, the better this space will continue to serve your family as their needs change.
You may also want to consider the flexibility of this space before you start tearing walls down. It's possible that your in-law suite may be only a short-term solution or that you'd like to be able to use this area for multiple purposes. An in-law suite can also be used to accommodate out-of-town guests or may even allow you to turn your home into an income property. If you plan on turning the space into one you can rent out or use as a guest haven, you won't want to go too far overboard into aging-in-place design trends. It's definitely possible to find a happy medium between universal design and modern concepts that will appeal to guests or tenants of all ages. That's why it's important to determine the purpose of your in-law suite before you begin; otherwise, you may have to spend more money later on if your needs change.
Adding an in-law suite is a great way to ensure your loved ones are safe and comfortable during a pivotal time of their lives. It can also be an option for families to earn extra income or ensure guests enjoy their stay. But before you break ground, you'll want to put ample thought into your choice of space, the design, and the intended use. If you do that, you'll end up with an area that will add value to your home and to your lives in general.
Wow, building a house takes a lot of work, huh? There are so many plans, people, permits, and who knows what else involved in this process. While your head is busy with the plan, don't forget about some of these essential features.
Central air conditioning
This may be a given, but it's something you really don't want to forget to include during construction. No matter where in the world you're planning on building, there will be at least a few months out of the year where you're going to want to run the air conditioning. Roughly 60% of U.S. homes have central air conditioning, and your new house should too.
When you're selecting flooring materials for your new home, you should consider hardwood as an option. For many people, hardwood floors are significantly better than carpet or other types of flooring because they can handle stress from kids and pets. Additionally, consumers expect wood decor, furniture, and flooring to last almost 15 years longer than other materials.
Energy efficient windows
You're building a brand new home, and it deserves new and efficient windows. With the large and open floor plan you are probably designing, it's going to cost a little more to heat and cool that puppy. Dual-paned windows are two times as effective compared to single-paned windows at retaining air conditioning and heat. So, you won't have to spend as much to regulate the temperature in your new home. The Rock Father™ himself published a four-part series on total home window replacement back in 2015.
High quality gutters
While gutters are not as aesthetically pleasing as some of these other features, they will be enormously beneficial to your new home. Gutters keep water away from your home to prevent any kind of problems. While most gutters function the same way, you want to get the best ones you can for your new construction. Clogged gutters are the number one cause of water problems in the basement; it would be a shame to spend all that time and money building a brand new home theater in the basement to have it ruined by bad gutters.
Luxurious bathrooms are often high priorities for people buying and building homes. They want updated showers, new tile, two sinks, an oversized mirror, and more. You get to choose all of those things for the bathrooms in your new home, so don't forget to make them as fancy as you please. Otherwise, you'll find yourself remodeling later, like The Rock Father™ did.
You have probably already thought about putting electrical outlets throughout the house, but have you thought about where you want to put them? It's your ball game this time around, and you don't have to place the bed in a weird spot so your lamp reaches the outlet when you're putting in the furniture. Think about how you want everything laid out, and install as many outlets as your heart desires. Under the windows, in the bathroom, in the kitchen island, and even in the garage are all convenient places to stick an outlet.
Convenient laundry room
You do laundry a lot, and wouldn't it be nice to have it in a convenient location? You can tuck the washer and dryer in a closet in your bedroom, off the kitchen, on the main floor, or wherever you think you'll want to do laundry for the next several years. You get to decide where it goes, so you don't have to drag your clothes down to the basement every time they need to be washed unless that's what you want to do.
More and more people consider their pets to be a part of the family, so it only makes sense to keep them in mind while you're building. A built-in dog wash can be a great feature in your mudroom, and a pet entrance in your front door can be an awesome addition for your furry friend.
You get to do whatever you want in the home you build for yourself, and you're probably designing your heart out. While there are some areas of the house that may be more important than others to you, make sure you remember the entire house when you're designing and building your dream home.
They say that one thing leads to another... and in the case of our home, that's absolutely correct. The entire #RockFatherRemodel Project was spawned by one major problem - a leaking bathroom that came through the ceiling of our family room/play room. That was just the beginning, as various components of that overhaul led to further projects, and as we sit right now, the process is ongoing. The full remodel of the Master Bathroom was a must-do, and a daunting task despite bringing in professional help for the bulk of the work. If you're like us and live in a modest, suburban home, our projects will hopefully serve as inspiration that a home can improve with age.
It was nearly six years ago that we moved into the house that would become our home - the home that would become known as Rock Father HQ. Little Adalyn was less than a year old, and Finley was still about two years off. We weren't first-time buyers, but the decision to buy our first single-family home was one wrapped in many things - like affordability, area, the house itself, and most importantly for us, the school district. It was my wife who fell in love with the house - I was more excited for the yard. The house was nice, but would need some improvements, a quick $10K spent at The Home Depot up the road on some immediate things (lots and lots of paint), and we were in business. But, like any aging house that's changed hands a few times, there were things that would eventually need to be addressed... just as there were things that we'd eventually want to address. And sometimes those "wants" end up being prompted (or accelerated) by unexpected needs. That's exactly how The #RockFatherRemodel Project began. As things needed to be done, I realized it was time to start tracking the progress.