Our craftsmanship adds value. Our people add warmth.

In Law Suite Addition Design Ideas

Mar 1, 2019 | Additions & Interiors

In Law Suite Additions

The in-law suite or nanny suite or granny suite as they are sometimes referred to are becoming more in demand.  There are several reasons for Americans to consider combining households, however, it is important that the new living space will provide privacy and allow for independence of both parties.  Many benefits occur with inviting relatives to cohabitate and include savings on utilities, sharing household expenses, providing help to young families with mortgage payments and offering our elderly family members a safe environment.

An AARP article sites that “By 2030, the United States for the first time will have more 65-and-older residents than children, the Census Bureau projected this week. All boomers and one-fifth of the total population will have reached the traditional retirement age of 65.”  Jonathan Vespa, a demographer with the Census Bureau states, “The aging of baby boomers means that within just a couple decades, older people are projected to outnumber children for the first time in U.S. history.”

What does this mean to us as Americans and family members?  Should we ready ourselves for the care needed for our aging relatives now and if we presently find ourselves in need of caring for a family member what is the best option?  We will share some ideas and options for you to consider.

Define Priorities for In Law Suite

  • Accessibility
  • First Floor Living
  • Private Bath
  • Privacy
  • Cooking Space

Accessibility provides open spaces and larger doorways to accommodate wheelchairs.  This would also include roll-in showers or curbless design showers.  Other considerations would be grab bars in the shower, handheld showerheads, comfort height commodes, and lower height countertops to name a few.

First Floor Living would be included in making the space easier for accessibility by having no stairs in or out of the suite as well as level transitions within the space.

Private Bathrooms are most usually desirable, but depending on your loved one’s needs you may find that a hall bath can serve as well.

Privacy incorporates so very many considerations such as; entrance from the outside, soundproofing, private sitting area for entertaining.

Cooking Space is often not chosen when incorporating an in-law suite.  The family member may not desire to cook for themselves or may wish to share meals with the balance of the family.  There is also a safety question as to the ability of that loved one to use a stove or oven.  Many times a microwave, small refrigerator and cabinet with wet bar can serve their need.

Custom Built Home with In law Suite by Owings Brothers Contracting

Custom In-Law Suite Addition

In Law Suite Design Ideas

There are many different ways to add an in-law suite to your existing home.  Traditionally an addition is added to the home and includes a bedroom and bathroom at the minimum.  Depending on your priorities additional living space for a loved one in your home can also consist of a separate entrance, kitchen area, separate heating, and air conditioning units. See more of the inlaw apartment pictured above here.

If you have a four bedroom home you may consider using two of the bedrooms for an in-law suite accessing a hall bath.  Another option is to transform a garage into an in-law apartment.  Most garages already have access to the home from inside and can be easily remodeled.  The bonus room above a garage can also be considered, but if outdoor stairs are a problem then possible access from the main house through the upper floor could work.  A screened porch could also provide the area for an in-law suite but would need to be revamped to have the proper foundation.  Perhaps you have underused space on your first floor such as a formal living room, den or dining room that can be transformed into an in-law suite.  This would be the less invasive and least expensive option because no exterior wall would need to be altered.  A basement in-law apartment would also be among the more cost-saving ideas and can often be large enough to keep a family area and storage as well as a bedroom and bath for a relative.

As you can see there are many options when considering an in-law suite.  Once the decisions have been made as to the priorities for your in-law suite and as to the best place to add it to your home several other things must be established.

  • Zoning Laws
  • Home Value
  • Cost versus Value
  • Optional Uses

Zoning laws vary from state to state and should be researched.  Some neighborhoods will prohibit having a full apartment which can be considered a rental property or two kitchens in one home.  To combat this issue consider several in-law suite kitchen ideas such as; a kitchenette which includes everything except a cooktop-oven, or perhaps only a minibar refrigerator, sink, and microwave.  Also the option of no kitchen facilities allowing the occupant to share meals with the family.   A licensed contractor in your area should be able to help with any zoning laws and permits.

Home values differ from region to region.  You can check out the comps in your neighborhood through a realtor or through public records for recently sold homes.  Over-investment in your property can cause some difficulty if you choose to sell.  Perhaps getting your investment back at resale may not seem important to you in relation to your need for this additional living space.  If so, then move forward with the steps provided above and then seek a licensed Design-Build contractor to provide drawings to your specifications or an architect.

Cost versus Value will go hand in hand with home value.  Your imminent need may seem to drive your decision, but another option is to sell your present home and move into another one that will fulfill the need for additional living quarters. If you are not planning to sell any time soon meeting your present need may be reason enough to invest in an in-law apartment or suite.  Your realtor can help make that decision.

Optional uses should be taken into consideration when planning for your in-law suite.  Creating a space that could in the future be used for additional rental income or a master bedroom suite, a guest suite, office space or even for a listing on Airbnb and other similar websites can be advantageous.

Caring for loved ones is very important and considering the statistics of the number of senior citizens the United States is projecting for the future, family members may want to have a plan.  Blending several households can be a big and sometimes difficult transition and respecting others space and privacy is important to all involved.  That said many families want to be together and save money, share children responsibilities as well as living expenses.  Planning in advance can assure that your family member doesn’t lose their independence completely and that your privacy is protected.  Having an in-law or parent in the house can be a great time to build deeper family relationships especially with grandchildren, and can create a great outcome for all!