Things to con­sider when build­ing an in-law suite

The Washington Times Daily - - Television -

Per­haps thanks to a strug­gling econ­omy and an un­pre­dictable stock mar­ket that has re­sulted in many re­tire­ment nest eggs be­ing dec­i­mated, more and more adult chil­dren are wel­com­ing their ag­ing par­ents into their homes. Such liv­ing sit­u­a­tions have led to a growth in in-law suites. In fact, in 2010 the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Home Builders found that 62 per­cent of builders sur­veyed were work­ing on home mod­i­fi­ca­tions re­lated to ag­ing.

In-law suites are of­ten cre­ated by con­vert­ing a room in the house, such as the base­ment or even a garage, into a liv­able suite. Such suites can ben­e­fit el­derly rel­a­tives who might have been dealt an un­fore­seen fi­nan­cial blow. But in-law suites can also ben­e­fit younger home­own­ers who want to see their par­ents more. In ad­di­tion, when older men and women move in with their adult chil­dren, they can pro­vide some nec­es­sary re­lief from the es­ca­lat­ing cost of day­care.

But be­fore build­ing an in-law suite in their home, home­own­ers might want to heed the fol­low­ing tips. • Be cer­tain it is le­gal. Mak­ing changes to your home may re­quire a per­mit, par­tic­u­larly if your in-law suite will be an en­tirely new ad­di­tion to your prop­erty and not just a strict room re­model. Con­tact your lo­cal zon­ing board to en­sure the project is within your rights as a home­owner. • Con­sider the health of your in-laws when mak­ing plans. Many in-law suites are oc­cu­pied by ag­ing rel­a­tives who might not be able to get up and down stairs as eas­ily as they used to. That makes ac­ces­si­bil­ity of the suite a top pri­or­ity. Typ­i­cally, it’s best to lo­cate in-law suites on the first floor, so rel­a­tives won’t find it dif­fi­cult to get in and out of the suite. • Don’t over­look pri­vacy. Just be­cause your par­ents or in-laws will be mov­ing in doesn’t mean they don’t still value their pri­vacy. Chances are your rel­a­tives will ini­tially feel as though they are in­vad­ing your space and your pri­vacy, so be sure the suite af­fords ad­e­quate pri­vacy to all mem­bers of the house­hold. It might be best to build the suite so it has its own sep­a­rate en­trance from the rest of the home. The suite should also have its own full bath­room and, if pos­si­ble, its own kitchen area so your in-laws can cook for them­selves and en­ter­tain their own guests without feel­ing like a bur­den. • Tai­lor cer­tain ameni­ties to the el­derly. If your in-laws are older, in­stall cer­tain ameni­ties, such as grab bars in the shower and bath­room, dur­ing the ini­tial con­struc­tion so you won’t have to make changes down the road. In­stall easy-open draw­ers and make sure the suite has am­ple light­ing. • Re­mem­ber to in­stall safety fea­tures. Safety fea­tures like fire, smoke and car­bon monox­ide de­tec­tors are a ne­ces­sity. Make sure the alarms on each of these de­tec­tors are loud enough so el­derly men and women who have hear­ing loss can hear them without is­sue. Make sure all walk­ways lead­ing to the in-law suite have mo­tion de­tect­ing lamps at night to re­duce risk of fall­ing. Also, if the suite will be a sep­a­rate build­ing from your house, such as a con­verted pool house or de­tached garage, in­stall an in­ter­com sys­tem that con­nects with the main house so your rel­a­tives can eas­ily reach you in case of emer­gency. In- law suites are be­com­ing more pop­u­lar as a greater num­ber of older adults are mov­ing in with their adult chil­dren. Such suites can bring fam­i­lies closer to­gether and prove ben­e­fi­cial for all par­ties in­volved.

Many se­niors are mov­ing in with their adult chil­dren to help care for grand­kids and pro­vide some re­lief from a sag­ging econ­omy.

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