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Building an In-Law Suite: What to Keep in Mind When Adding a Space For Mom and Dad

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Last year, we took a look at a booming trend in multigenerational living: the in-law suite. Now, with more families staying home than ever and many sharing concerns about the health of older Americans, it’s no wonder that families are getting creative when it comes to expanding the possibilities for the extended family. Hence, we’re serving up some thoughts on building an in-law suite, 2020 style!

Although 90% of seniors say they’d want to remain in their own homes as they age, living alone isn’t always a possibility (nor is it always recommended). However, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s time to consider assisted living facilities or nursing homes nearby. In some cases, building an in-law suite — also known as a granny suite — may allow your older loved one to retain their independence and privacy while remaining safe and well cared for.

But whether you’re a DIY guru or are a home improvement novice, what should you keep in mind for this type of renovation? We’re sharing some wisdom below before you break any ground.

Serve Multiple Purposes With Your Renovation

The main purpose of building an in-law suite addition or separate structure is to providing lodging and access to amenities for elderly family members. But these spaces can be so much more. It’s important that you consider additional uses for this space, as there may come a time when your in-laws need to move out or the need for this addition may shift. Fortunately, there are all kinds of purposes your finished in-law suite can serve — and many of them will be extremely desirable to future home buyers.

According to Home Advisor, the average basement remodel can yield a 70% return on investment. But whether you choose to remodel your basement, add onto your second story, or build a separate structure in your yard, you can then use this space for other purposes if you choose. For example, you could rent out the space to help with your mortgage, use it for visiting guests, transform it into a home office or craft room, or invite your adult children to move back home. If you design the in-law suite with a separate entrance, bathroom, kitchen, and living area, you’ll be adding a lot of value to your home that can be utilized several times over. Although those future uses might not be at the forefront of your mind right now, thinking ahead can help you make smarter choices during the design phase.

Map Out Costs Before You Start

Speaking of smarter choices, you’ll definitely want to be smart when it comes to your spending. Despite the fact that one-third of homeowners who completed a home improvement project in the last year regret not spending more on the project, you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on this renovation to get what you and your family members need.

However, you will need to keep your expectations in check when it comes to expenses. Depending on the room you’re renovating or building, you could spend anywhere from $20,000 to $125,000 on this project — so choose your materials and amenities wisely. You’ll want to establish a clear budget and work with a professional to ensure the renovation stays within those financial parameters. Keep in mind that basements and attics may require different material choices (and might need additional insulation or safety considerations). Your aim shouldn’t be to get the renovation done for cheap, but you won’t want to go overboard, either. Focus on establishing privacy, safety, and health first, as well as resale value, before you start factoring in unnecessary features.

Check For Legalities and Code Compliance

It’s important to note that in-law suites do have certain restrictions in some areas. Uses and amenities may be subject to local ordinances, so you’ll need to find out more about building and zoning codes in your area before doing anything else. Some areas won’t allow specifications of additions or even full kitchens, while some may require you to obtain permitting approval first. Your local builder or zoning office can provide the information you need in order to move forward and may have suggestions that will allow you to address your family’s needs without getting in trouble with the city.

With these three steps out of the way, you can press ahead with the design phase of your in-law suite renovation or addition with confidence. Before too long, your loved ones can move in and enjoy a comfortable lifestyle.

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