What is an in-law suite or apartment? It is an addition to an existing house that is standalone and fully equipped to act as an independent rental unit. When children grow up and watch their parents age, they often choose to bring their parents to live next to them so that they keep them company and watch over their needs through their silver years. Thus, the concept of “in-law suite” was created. This dwelling allows both parties to retain some independence while keeping the family well-stitched together. However, this is not the only reason people build them. They are often built as a rental property on homes with ample lots. Legally, an in-law suite is called an “accessory dwelling unit,” which is a separate living space built on the property lot. When you apply for a permit, it will be labeled as such.
So what exactly do you build in an in-law suite? That all depends on how you want to use it. If it is for Mom and/or Dad, it should adhere to senior citizens’ codes such as few stairs and easy access to the unit and its amenities. It should be about ease of use, comfort, and simplicity while accommodating your parents’ special needs and hobbies.
Use it as a rental property
As a rental property, some in-law suites are built with top shelf amenities to create the feel of a luxury hotel and generate handsome rental income on platforms such as Airbnb.
If you plan to occasionally rent to tourists, then it really should look like a hotel, with a large screen TV, and a striking décor and color palette. The kitchen has to be functional and equipped with the right appliances for short-term renters. Some in-law suites are built with full kitchens and bathrooms while others are built with kitchenette and small baths.
Use it for your aging parents
If you are building a unit for your parents or an aging loved one, make sure the bathroom is equipped with the best things to support access to it with wheelchairs and crutches. The shower stall should have a holding bar and the right tools to alert you if something goes wrong.
Installing the right cooling and heating mechanism is key for aging parents as they become susceptible to temperature changes over time. Make sure that you install a quality standalone heater and cooling system.
Zoning laws in your city can affect what you can and cannot build, so contact your city’s planning department to better understand your restrictions.
If you have a lot that will accommodate a large in-law suite, adding a reading corner will make it feel homey and relaxing. Incorporating a space for a reader or a desk for someone who wants to work can add a lot of character and luxury to your suite.
Looking for a bigger project? Try our full home improvement guide and get started on your renovation!
How much will it cost?
Costs can vary wildly based on where you live but count on spending a pretty penny for a new in-law suite. It is like building a small home. You will more than likely need to build a new foundation and construct the entire structure from scratch. If you are converting an older structure such as an old garage, you can save a significant amount of money because the foundation is already in place. However, in-law suites can be very profitable and add a lot of equity to the house, and that’s on top of any potential rental income. To estimate the cost of building an in-law suite, all you need to do is go to Kukun Remodeling Estimator. It is a highly accurate tool and can help you plan your budget.
How can I find the right contractor to build an in-law suite for me?
This can be a daunting task, but keep in mind that contractors with proven records and references are going to be your best bets. A contractor who worries about his or her reputation will be sure to deliver what you need. After you selected two or three candidates, go ahead and check each one’s permit history and reviews. Go to Kukun’s Pro fact sheets to find reputable contractors and check out their permit history, the addresses of homes where they worked, the scope of the work they did and their summarized “Online Reputation.”
Adding an in-law suite is a great project that adds function and equity to your home. When you build one, remember that one day you may want to sell your home or rent the suite, so build a suite that will make those two transactions as profitable to you as possible.