October 23rd, 2016 12:40 PM by Jackie A. Graves, President
More and more Americans are keeping it all in
the family these days, as multi-generational living—where three or more
generations share the same household—continues to rise.
In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19%
of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof,
according to a recent analysis of Census data by the Pew Research Center.
Maybe it’s because of lingering economic fallout from the recession,
increasing lifespans, or different cultural norms in our diverse population.
Whatever the reason, sometimes preserving family harmony among cohabiting adults
means creating an extra layer of privacy.
Enter the in-law suites, aka granny suites.
They’re converted garages, basements, sheds, and attics that contain living,
bathing, and cooking quarters that allow Grandma or Junior to live in a separate
but connected space. There’s privacy—often a separate entrance or at least a
locked door—but there’s also enough togetherness so that help, if needed, is
only a holler away.
“Many seniors want to retain their
independence but live in a more age-friendly environment,” says Todd
Nelson, business development officer at LightStream, an
online consumer lender that finances, among other things, in-law suites that
can range from $40,000 to $125,000. “While that may seem like a lot upfront,
they can save families thousands of dollars in the long run.”
If you’re considering adding your own in-law
unit, keep these tips in mind.
Before deciding where you’re going to create
an in-law suite, discuss the remodel with
your parents or adult children to find out what they need and want.
Older adults might have trouble climbing
stairs, seeing in dim light, or reaching up or down. For them, a suite in a
converted attic could be too difficult to access. Adult children, on the other
hand, might prefer one large, open, loft-like space.
Whatever you construct for elderly relatives,
make sure to incorporate universal design. This
includes wide doors and raised cabinets that can accommodate walkers and
wheelchairs; lipless shower stalls that eliminate tripping hazards; walls
reinforced with plywood that can anchor grab bars; and lever door handles that
are easier for old and young hands to grab.
Know your options for
In the best-case scenario, your in-law suite
should have a bedroom, sitting room, bathroom, and kitchen
area, so whoever’s living there can maintain their independence.
You can go all out and build a 300- to
600-square-foot standalone granny pod in your
backyard, which could cost as much $125,000. Or you can throw up an addition, which will cost an average of
$32,700 to $63,000.
But you’ll save money if you convert underused
space you already have. Here are some options.
1. Garage conversion
Most garages—attached or detached—are
uninhabitable in their original state. Although they might have drywall and
electricity, most don’t have adequate (or any) heating or air conditioning, enough insulation, the
proper number of wall outlets to meet residential building codes, or any
On the plus side, garages have foundations,
roofs, and framing, and many have separate entrances that provide privacy. So
that’s a good starting point.
When converting a garage, you’ll have to
install wiring to meet residential building codes for kitchen equipment and
wall outlets; plumb a kitchen and bathroom; and condition the space with
heating and air conditioning by tapping into the main house’s systems or
installing separate HVAC systems.
Depending on where you live, you’ll either
have to insulate the garage door to protect against summer heat and winter
cold, or replace it with more functional, residential doors—which could require
additional framing. Also plan on raising the floor to install insulation.
Cost: $20,000 to $50,000 (add
another $15,000 to $25,000 for a bathroom)
2. Basement conversion
If your basement is already
finished, turning it into an in-law suite is fairly simple. You can divide
a large space into a bedroom and sitting room, and add a simple kitchen that
can tap into the pipes and drains already installed.
Unfinished basements present a bigger
challenge. You might have to add sump pumps or French drains to guard against flooding,
and a dehumidifier to suck moisture out of the air and prevent mold. Also, you’ll
probably have to add above-grade windows, window wells, or a door to create an
easy exit to meet local building codes.
Cost: $10,000 to $27,000.
3. Attic conversion
Your big challenges will be:
Cost: $41,400 to $90,000.
4. Upcycling unused
When was the last time you ate in your dining
room? Or sat in your living room? Or actually hosted a guest in your guest room?
If the answer is, “Can’t remember,” then you can convert those hardly used
spaces into an in-law suite. You already have exterior walls and windows,
sub-flooring, and HVAC ducts in place.
If you have enough space, carve the big room
into a bedroom and bathroom, which will require framing, plumbing, tiling, and
electrical work. Or, if a bathroom is nearby, divide the space into sleeping
and reading/TV areas.
This converted space might not provide maximum
privacy, but it does give everyone a room to call their own.
Cost: Framing a wall costs $2 to $4 per square foot; adding a bathroom can run anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000.
By Lisa Gordon - To view the original article click here