Let’s talk about super smart dream homes that will last you a lifetime. And my idea of a dream home is one full of my favorite people — parents cooking, friends laughing, kids running in all muddy from a cross country meet. Well, life changes, and we all get a little bit older. But one way to help accommodate those favorite people, wherever they are in life, is to build an in-law suite.
In my line of work, I see a lot of trends come and go. Trends are all fine and good, but for me, the most important thing that never goes out of style is loving your forever home. We plan and design that home to work for you. That’s the home you’re going to cherish no matter what year it is, or what happens to be trendy. So I like to help my clients plan for the future, whatever that may hold.
And lately, folks are talking about, dreaming about, and planning for: multigenerational houses. I have spoken to several clients about these kinds of multigenerational homes.
Now, what exactly does that mean? It’s about creating a home that can accommodate families at different phases of their life. And maybe even considering a portion of your home that can generate income. Often, you can reap multiple benefits by incorporating what we call an “in-law suite.”
That’s a separate section of the house, sometimes with its own entrance, that allows privacy and independent living within the home. It’s a great way to make living under one roof work for your family, whether that means Grandma and Grandpa or “grown-up” kids moving back home. But there’s a lot more to it than that!
So here are my top five reasons to build an in-law suite in your custom home:
1. Making space for adult children
It’s always a little sad watching your kids fly the nest. The commotion, jam-packed calendar, and their stories at the dinner table leave when they do. But every so often, you get a chance to have them back! Even though I hate to admit how long-ago college was for me, I know things have changed since we were that age. Ashley and I have watched two of our kiddos graduate college and we’ve still got one in so we know life looks different for them post-college than it did for us.
In fact, 65% of 2018 seniors graduating from public and private colleges had student loan debt. College tuition and room and board has soared over the last two decades. So it’s not just that graduates have debt, they often have a lot of debt. Today’s young people have a lot to deal with. Moving back home, or staying at home longer, is sometimes a way for them to make their finances work. One study found that almost one in four millennials lives at home.
Having an in-law suite helps provide some important privacy for young adults. With a separate entrance, bathroom and kitchenette, it’s like having a mini-apartment of their own! That can help ease any tension that can come from being together all the time, and allow them to sample independent living before making the plunge themselves.
And even if your adult children are fully moved out into their own space, having a comfortable place for them to stay when they return for holidays can help make family gatherings less stressful and more fun. You’re all set to host them for a weekend or a month!
Right now, this is how I’m planning the in-law suite for the custom home I’m currently building.
2. Making space for parents
On the flip side of the coin, maybe you or your spouse want to make space for your aging parents. Intergenerational living can be a great alternative for older folks who don’t want to be on their own, but aren’t interested in a senior living community. Like with adult children, having a separate suite provides some privacy and allows the family to be together as much or as little as they need. Not knowing what the future holds, it’s not a bad idea to plan a custom home with our folks in mind.
It’s great news that older people are living longer than ever — we could see one million centenarians in 2050! We hope we are blessed with some centenarians of our own!
3. Rental options
If you find your in-law suite is sitting empty when no one’s visiting, you can take advantage of websites like AirBnB and VRBO. These services allow you to rent your empty rooms to visitors, usually short-term, who are looking for places to stay in the area. You can set dates when your space will be available, and renters book your room or “apartment.” Amenities like a kitchenette and separate entrance are especially attractive on sites like these, so an in-law suite can be a great way to put space to use and generate income. According to Airbnb’s director of public affairs, Americans renting their homes make an average of $7,200 a year.
If your in-law suite is really independent from the rest of the house, you might even choose to rent it traditionally and take on tenants for longer periods of time. Renting your space will require some extra planning and paperwork, but it’s definitely worth considering for anyone building an in-law suite for their custom home.
4. Flex Space
No matter what life stage you’re in, or your parents, or your kids; the extra space of an in-law suite can be put to lots of good uses. Whether you want a craft studio, a workout room, or a home office, having this separate space gives you a place to “escape” into, with everything you need nearby. The beauty of an in-law suite is that it’s free space that can transform for different purposes — maybe you want to turn it into a fun playroom until your kids get older, or a movie zone. You get to build it based on your lifestyle.
So if your dinner guests get snowed in (this is Monument, after all), they have a top-notch place to stay.
5. Future Value
When I build a home, I want it to be a place where you feel happy for the long run. But sometimes life circumstances change, and you find yourself needing to sell your home. For all the reasons I’ve mentioned, in-law suites add value to a house and make it more attractive to buyers.
We have friends whose parents and children still live in the area so multigenerational homes are a great find. We know folks who rent out space for Air Force Academy graduation every year, and others who enjoy the opportunity to rent it occasionally on VRBO. And in a place as gorgeous as Monument, everyone wants to visit!
So that in-law suite you build makes your home attractive to others in the future. Most resale homes don’t offer this feature. Building a custom home with an in-law suite lets you build the house and the suite to the exact specs of your needs with smart planning for the future and great resale. That’s what I’m all about!
So I’d encourage you to keep these reasons in mind when you consider custom-building an in-law suite — it’s never too late to plan ahead!
I’m proud to say that I’ve completed every home on time or early, in all my 35 years of building. So you can bet it’ll be ready for the grandkids!