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In Law Suites And The New Multi Generational Home

By: Bidmyreno Admin | Jul 6, 2016



With our ageing population, multi-generational housing -- or “in-law suites” -- are popping up in homes more and more and for various reasons.  For some families and their parents, an in-law suite is a perfect solution for relatives to be able to support one another and have peace of mind… and what a benefit for growing kids to have their grandparents close by to spoil them!


An in-law suite can be whatever you need it to be: from a finished basement or a converted room to an addition or detached building. Not only does this trend allow for ageing parents to live comfortably with family, but it’s also shown to increase the property value of a home.

Multi-generational housing can be perfect for living situations between relatives who wish to keep their privacy and independence while feeling included in the rest of the family.

Converting a room is quite straightforward, whereas building an addition requires some special considerations.  Look into the following if you are considering converting a room or two, or building an add-on that is self-contained.

1. Choose a location that makes sense

Think about the most affordable and logical place to build or convert an existing space. If you opt to transform existing rooms that are rarely used, consider combining formal dining and living rooms or guest rooms. A garage or porch can also be converted into a permanent enclosed dwelling.  If you are thinking of adding rooms, build next to existing plumbing and areas you underutilize on the main floor.

2. Review building codes

Depending on the type of in-law suite you are building, you will likely require permits. Get professionals to help you better understand the permits you need. Also, depending on the area you live in, even if you are just converting rooms in your existing home - a suite that includes a free-standing kitchenette may require separate permits as it would be considered rentable and your house would no longer be considered a single family home.  You can sometimes avoid this by installing a wet bar and making sure the addition includes access to the main kitchen. It's always best to check the local building regulations before you begin construction to be safe!

3. Keep power separate

Keeping your addition on its own separate power, heat and A/C will allow you to shut the system down when your parents are away.  Also, should you choose to rent out the addition in the future, you will be able to keep those charges separate.

4. Is your septic system large enough?

If your home runs on a septic tank, get a professional in to help you understand out how many bathrooms your septic tank allows. Consider the extra cost if increasing the size of your septic bed is a requirement.

5. What are your parents' needs?

Determine the type of living arrangement you or your parents would prefer. If independence and privacy aren't of utmost importance and you plan to spend a lot of time together, sharing the kitchen and sitting areas will reduce costs.  Also keep in mind that even if your parents are physically active now, they may need help from time to time as they age.  Consider wider doors and hallways and assisted baths with lever handles and guardrails.  Non-slip flooring and no-curb showers may be something to incorporate during construction.  


Having a parent or parents move in with you may seem daunting at first, but many families have found that the biggest benefits of a multigenerational home are being able to spend time with your entire family and ake care of those who once took care of you.


Are you planning to renovate or build an in-law addition on your home for your parents? If so, post your project on and find the best contractor for your needs!