The Mother In Law Suite – The Best Remodeling Decision You Ever Made

The Mother In Law Suite – The Best Remodeling Decision You Ever Made

It’s often said that the best investment that can be made is in one’s home. Whether you want to expand opportunities for rental income, planning to become an Airbnb host, or have an older relative who you want to be close to in their remaining years, or any number of other reasons, investigating your options for a mother-in-law suite is a great idea. Here we'll talk about what a mother-in-law suite is, how to install one, what the legal and zoning challenges are, and the benefits for family care and rental income.

What is a mother-in-law suite?

A mother-in-law suite is an addition to your home that gives the full functionality of an apartment yet is also connected to your domicile. These can be physically attached to your home, or they can take the form of cottages on your property. Mother-in-law suites are becoming more popular as the health of assisted living skyrockets. While mother-in-law suites have a steep up-front cost $40,000 to $125,000, the steep monthly cost of assisted living (estimated by the Genworth survey to be approximately $48,000 yearly) makes mother-in-law suites affordable in the long term. Further, an in-law suite can still continue to produce value after the passing of a loved one, since they can be easily converted into one bedroom apartments or Airbnb style suites.

Homes with mother-in-law suites often include full baths and kitchen facilities, to facilitate independent senior living, as well as ramps, grab bars and other accessibility features in the suite area.

How does it affect the value of a home?

Mother-in-law suites certainly increase the value of the home overall. While hard figures are hard to come by, the extra square footage of an in-law suite addition alone is seen as valuable. Passive income is hard to pass up, and most buyers in the current markets see an extra basement or converted apartment as a value add. Just the ability to gain extra rental income makes them attractive to anyone that wants to buy a house. This makes building a mother-in-law suite a great idea. If you're thinking about using your mother-in-law suite as an Airbnb property, use their calculator to see how much you could make on a monthly basis.

The benefits to building an in-law suite

There are many benefits to adding an In-law suite to your home. Here are a few:

Reduced elder care costs – being able to care for one’s family at home brings down many of the associated costs for long term elder care, as opposed to housing a relative at an assisted care facility. Using visiting caregivers and nursing staff, in conjunction with the family, can also lead to a higher quality of living and independence for older relatives

Tax credits and cost of living – Marketwatch reports that the IRS is granting a $500 tax credit per year if your older family member lives with you. This long term helps to offset construction costs for a mother-in-law suite

Increase in home value – As stated before, increase in square footage and additions of bathrooms, kitchen facilities and accessibility features are value adds to nearly all buyers. When it comes to sell the home, these features can help in demanding a premium price

What else can they be used for?

A mother-in-law house can also double as a home office (which many become after there is no longer need for housing a relative), a guest suite, bedrooms for a growing family, or for storage.

How to add a mother-in-law suite

First, when drawing up your mother-in-law suite plans, it’s best to discuss the ideas behind why you want to add a mother-in-law suite with your family. Parents and relatives, especially the people who may be using the addition, may have their own ideas, and it’s wise to get their input.

Then, you can decide whether or not you want to build an addition (which can range between $30,000 and $60,000) or what’s known as a “granny pod”, that can run up to around $130,000. “Granny pod” is another term for “granny cottage”, which includes the accessibility and medical features necessary for long term elder care in the building.

There are contractors who can support these kinds of projects, and they should be familiar with the hurdles, both regulatory and physical, involved in these projects.

The legal need-to-know about building in-law suites

Mother-in-law suites also have challenges associated with them. First, many municipalities demand that separate utility and sewer hookups be furnished (especially if you intend to rent later on). Some also demand parking access or driveways. It’s best to check with a local contractor or realtor about zoning issues associated with mother-in-law suites.

Various municipalities also have their own legal definitions of “in-law suite”, as opposed to other forms of additions or rentals. Make sure you check out your municipality’s ordinances before beginning work.

Any questions?

Here at, we deal with homeowners and contractors every day who come to us with these important questions. We want to help! We would love to answer your questions about houses with mother-in-law suites. Reach out and contact us!

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