All in the Family: 3 Steps to Designing an In-Law Suite in Your Home

Posted on: 23 January 2017

If you're trying to care for an aging parent while having to run your own life at the same, you know how hard it can be to find solutions that work for everyone. One housing answer that more and more families are taking advantage of is combining households by bringing parents into the younger family's home. A so-called "mother-in-law suite" can be the perfect way to do this while still maintaining privacy for everyone. And it may be more realistic than you think. Here are three steps to adding an in-law suite to any house.

Be Creative. You may not immediately think you have space for a mother-in-law suite, so try to think outside the box when it comes to the layout. Basements and garages tend to be obvious choices for adding an in-law suite, but you may be able to cannibalize unused interior space too. A family room, for example, may be large enough to divide into two or three smaller areas to create a bedroom area, kitchenette, and bathroom. Two side-by-side bedrooms could be rearranged into a suite—a living room and bedroom space with an added bathroom. Try converting an enclosed porch, adding a small elevator to a second-story suite, or even expanding a first-floor bedroom. In other words, be creative when assessing your home's possibilities. 

Check Permits and Zoning. Before you get too far, be sure to check with your local city hall to determine what your remodeling options are. Some zoning requirements don't permit the addition of a second kitchen or an outside entrance, for example. While you may still be able to work within such limitations, you'll need to know what you're allowed to do before you start working. 

Budget for Plumbing. One of the biggest challenges most homeowners face in adding an in-law suite is to add or move plumbing. Why? While you can add a bedroom or living room space just about anywhere with minimal construction work, adding a bathroom or kitchen can be trickier and more expensive. You may be able to save money and time by taking advantage of existing plumbing within walls or underneath flooring or by placing the bathroom and kitchenette along the same wall. Consult with a plumbing contractor such as C B Lucas Heating & Air Conditioning early in the process to find out how best to fit your new plumbing needs into the existing home design. 

By following these few steps, you can create the best in-law suite possible, helping to create a happy and unified family for many years to come.