There are Several Things You Should Keep in Mind When Deciding Whether to Extend Your House

Mother-in-law suites are whatever you need them to be. Bed and bath additions to a home, converted rooms, free-standing apartments or in home suites. What they all have in common is their preferred location on the ground floor for accessibility and their added sales appeal. The additional space can also be used outside of in-law housing and can be purposed as an office, living space for recuperating relatives or serve as a guest bedroom until you yourself no longer wish to tackle the stairs.

Multigenerational housing is increasing yearly, so it’s best to start thinking of the future of your parents and in-laws (even your own) now rather than when you need to. They’re perfect for living situations between relatives who want to keep their privacy and save some independence while also feel included in the rest of the household. If creating these mother-in-law additions seems to be in your future, then consider these tips before you build. 

Check Building Area Codes
Before you begin, check with your city on building area codes because this can limit what you can do with your addition. Most zoning rules limit additions to having a bedroom, bath, sitting area and kitchenette. You can get around the kitchen problem by installing a wet bar or making sure the addition has access to the communal kitchen.

Check Your Permit
You don’t really think about it, but if you have a septic tank you also have a permit for it. There are many rules we often don’t have to think about when it comes to our plumbing, but many septic tanks can only allow for three bathroom connections. There’s a chance you may have to increase the size of your system to allow for an addition with a bath, which means increased costs to prepare for. 

Choose a Location
With the type of space you want to build in mind, it’s time to look around your home for the best place to build or convert. Permits permitting, you can transform your garage or porch area to an enclosed dwelling. If you’re looking to create a new addition to your house, look for an area along the first floor next to a room you underutilized and can use a space near an existing bathroom.

Separate Power
You may want to consider keeping your addition on its own separate power, heat and A/C source. It will help in the future should you decide to charge an occupant rent, but more importantly, you can shut the unit down when it’s not being lived in. 

Keep Occupants in Mind
When laying out the blueprints for your addition and choosing what kind of addition to create, keep the ones who will be living there in mind. Will they need wider doors and hallways? Assisted baths with lever handles and stylish guardrails? No slip-flooring and no-curb showers? Even if your parents or in-laws are physically active now, they may need help from time to time in the future.

Keep Others in Mind
If your relatives aren’t planning to move in permanently or they won’t move in for a while, it’s important to keep everyone in mind with the decor of your addition. Keeping things neutral, from flooring to curtains to wall color, will allow whoever lives there to add their personal touches on top of this basic groundwork.

Enjoy Your Family
Having a parent move in with you may seem daunting at first, but many families who are interviewed say it’s been a blessing and many wish they’d done it sooner. Sure there are the logistical benefits of cut care costs, but the biggest benefit is spending more time with your entire family and taking care of those who once took care of you.


  1. I love the last sentence. So many people get caught up in decorating and making their home beautiful, but they don’t realize that you should be making it beautiful in order to spend time with your family and friends. If you don’t, all you’re left with is a pretty house but no one to share it with 🙁 which is sad.

  2. Definitely be sure to get a building permit. So many people don’t. And most know that you are supposed to, but some assume that their project is so small that they don’t need one. And some don’t do it just to spite the city, because they’re annoyed they have to get permission to build something on their own property. Also, I agree with the above persons comment, though. People do often do that. Hard these days not to get caught up in material things.

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