22 Jun 2022

As multi-generational houses become more common, current estimates are that a fifth of all homes in America have three generations or more living there, in-law suites become more popular. Assisted living costs for the elderly are increasing, so children are choosing to have their elderly parents live with them.

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Also, children with young children of their own are reaping the benefits of having their parents as additional caregivers for their youngsters. In light of this, adding an annex or additional building to your property could be extremely beneficial. If this is a new concept to you and you have no idea where to start, we can help with this. 


What Does an In-Law Suite Entail?

An in-law suite is often a converted area of your home with a separate entrance that is self-contained. This can be a converted basement, garage, or small annex. With in-law suites becoming more common, you may find that you can buy a house with one already built. However, if you do not have this option, it could be best to add one to the home you are in. 

If you do not have a space already within your home that can be converted, you may wish to build a free-standing building on your property instead. If you do have the space to convert an area of your home into the in-law suite, you will need to ensure that the building work that will take place will fit around your home life. Or that you have somewhere else to stay while the work is completed. While the work is completed is an ideal time to stay with your parents to help them pack and become ready to move.

If you are lucky enough to be able to choose between a conversion or a free-standing property, it is worth considering other factors when making this decision. If you live in an area that becomes cold or has snow, a separate building could make it more difficult should your parents need you. As your parents age, if mobility issues begin, you could find they are unable to get across to your home in snowy weather. You could therefore consider installing a pathway that can be salted to stop the snow or ice. 



The first thing to consider is the cost of adding an in-law suite to your property. The cost of this can vary dramatically depending on the type of suite you are planning and if you already have a space that can be converted. Each in-law suite will typically include a sitting area, kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. Current estimates are that a suite will cost you between $40,000 and $125,000. 

This one-off cost may seem eye-watering for some. However, it is inexpensive in comparison to the annual costs for childcare or assisted living. The opportunity to spend more time with your parents is also something that cannot have a monetary value attached. 

When considering the cost of a project such as this, you should also consider the future value it will add to your home. If you are moving home in the future, a well-built in-law suite can add considerable value to your home for the right buyer. 



You will need to carefully plan your in-law suite before beginning to build it. The first step to do this is to check if you have the correct permissions and building codes to build the suite. The regulations will differ depending on which state you live in, so you must research this fully before beginning any work. 

Next, you should find the perfect space to install your in-law suite. You will need to ensure that you have enough space for each of the areas that will be included in the suite. Ideally, an in-law suite would be on the ground floor of your home if it is not an additional building. This will give your parents their own space. 

Creating a floor plan can help you to work out how much space you need. You should also discuss the floor plan with your parents to ensure that it suits their needs. When designing a living area from a floor plan, it is the ideal time to ensure it suits everyone in the family and has enough space for everyone to be comfortable.

Once you have a floor plan, you can begin with the accurate costing of the project. Knowing the costs may help you to determine a more detailed floor plan as you work out what you are able to include in the suite. 


Making a Start

Following the floor plan, it is time to hire your contractor. It is important to ensure that your contractor is certified to build an aging-in-place property. It is preferable to hire someone who has built this type of structure or completed this type of conversion previously. Prior experience is invaluable as the contractor will be able to advise you on what has worked well for them in the past. 

Before you break ground on the conversion or building, you should consider the needs of your parents, not just currently but in the future. A single-story property will be beneficial for any future mobility issues, but you should also consider wider door frames for future wheelchair use. 

You can also instruct your contractor to isolate the utilities for your in-law suite from the utilities for the suite. This will be cost-effective if the suite is unoccupied if your parent needs hospital treatment or visits other family members.