An in-law unit can provide peace-of-mind and convenient housing for aging parents. Creating one takes planning and understanding. What they all have in common is their preferred location on the ground floor for accessibility and their added sales appeal – generally they increase property value.
What should the in-law unit include? It’s important that this new living space provides privacy and independence for all. Most experts say it should have a private bathroom and a door that separates it from the rest of the home. Some suggest that it should also have a separate entrance and kitchen, especially if the living situation will be long-term.
Check building codes
Check with your city on building area codes before you begin because this can limit what you can do with your addition. Most zoning rules limit additions to having a bedroom, bath, sitting area and kitchenette. Adding a kitchen or creating a free-standing unit makes it an ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) which is considered rentable—this makes your home no longer a single-family home and requires separate permits.
Assess your home to determine the best possible space for the in-law unit. You can transform your garage or porch area to an enclosed dwelling. If you’re looking to create a new addition to your house, look for an area along the first floor next to a room that is underutilized and is near an existing bathroom. Install separate light, heat, and air-conditioning controls as well as smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors.
Plan for your occupants
When planning for your addition, keep the ones who will be living there in mind. Will they need wider doors and hallways? Assisted baths with lever handles and stylish guardrails? No slip-flooring and no-curb showers? Even if your parents or in-laws are physically active now, they may need help from time to time in the future.
Having a parent move in with you may seem daunting at first, but many families say it’s been a blessing and wish they’d done it sooner.