Considering a Multigenerational Home? Here’s Why An In-Law Unit May Be Right For You


As the number of multigenerational homes increases, homeowners and their families are looking for ways to renovate their homes in order to bring their family together under one roof. The goal? Get the most out of their homes, while respecting the privacy and ensuring quality of life for each generation. But with the right design, this style of living is proving to be an effective solution for many families––plus there are some real benefits to choosing a multigenerational space such as:  

•   Financial: By bringing family members and resources together under one roof, families can collectively address their expenses and allocate finances accordingly.

•   Strong Family Connection: While most families come together on special occasions, multigenerational families have the luxury of seeing each other every day. By living under one roof, these families develop a high level of attachment and closeness. 

•   Safety: Home security is a terrific benefit of multigenerational living. With multiple generations under one roof, a home is rarely ever left unoccupied for long, and living with other family members increases the chances that someone is present to assist elderly family members should they have an accident.

This movement is proving quite popular, in fact almost 65 million Americans are living in multigenerational homes today where grandparents, parents and kids all are living under the same roof. That may seem like a lot to manage, but there are some best practices when it comes to remodeling and designing a home that makes sense for everyone living there. When designing and remodeling homes with multiple generations in mind, consider privacy, accessibility, comfort and convenience to transform the home into one that everyone enjoys. One of the best options to achieve these goals is building an in-law unit or apartment. 

What is an In-Law Unit? 

An in-law unit or apartment is a private space for in-laws and parents that is usually attached to or located on the same lot as their grown child’s house. Many in-law suites are custom-built home additions, though converted garages, basements and stand-alone guest houses are also common. These types of dwellings are also referred to as “mother-in-law” suites or granny apartments. It’s important to consider the location with any in-law suite. First floor locations are ideal (consider the basement, a custom addition off the back of the house, convert the garage, or build a separate unit on the property), as stairs can be challenging with aging parents. You’ll also want to ensure the design makes it easy to age in place featuring the appropriate amenities. Most in-law suites typically include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living space and a separate entrance from the primary home.

Why You Need One

Ultimately, this decision comes down to your individual needs and budget, but there are some real benefits beyond having family close by to adding an in-law suite to your existing home. They include:

•   Increasing the value of your home: Having an in-law suite will almost certainly boost the value of your home. Adding extra square footage to your primary house will result in a higher listing price when you decide to sell your home. Additionally, the extra living space is particularly attractive to buyers with large families or those hoping for extra rental income. Bottomline: having an attached or detached mother-in-law apartment is a great way to increase the value of your home and improve its resale potential.

•   Potential rental income: Many owners rent out these secondary dwellings to help pay for home renovations, family vacations and day-to-day expenses in general. Renting out a guest house is an excellent way to earn additional passive income on a monthly basis. 

•   Room for guests: having a separate living space can also come in handy when hosting guests. Guests will have their own private quarters, which means you will have complete privacy as well.

Finally, when considering building a separate in-law unit, remember to find a reputable contractor who can help you with all stages of the process, from planning and design, to proper permitting and construction. Financing obviously comes into play as well. While cash is always the best option, there are a few “better than most” financing options you can use if your savings doesn’t quite cover the cost of adding your in-law unit.