In a world where the economy is unstable and the cost of living creeps higher and higher, more and more homeowners are turning to the idea of an in-law suite or in-law apartment, to ease the emotional and financial burdens of everyone in the family. It’s a way to give your parents or in-laws a place to call their own in which they can retain privacy, independence, and dignity. Adding on to your house also gives you the benefit of keeping your loved ones close without sacrificing your precious privacy in the process.

The number of multigenerational households is growing across North America. It’s time for you and your family to embrace this trend that could change your life for the better. In this article, the contractors at Top Home Builders will go over the basics of in-law suites and what you need to consider before building one.

What is an In-Law Suite?

The in-law suite or in-law apartment is a private residence for your parents or in-laws that is most often located on the same grounds as the child’s house — or exists as an attachment on the original home which was custom built for the parents or in-laws.

Many homeowners will also utilize garages or basements to build this type of “mother-in-law suite” or “granny flat.”

1. Check Local Building Codes

Before you invest money in developing your own in-law unit, do your research and find out if your municipality or city ward allows the construction of such a suite in the first place. Some cities will ban the construction, or at least impose some restrictions. For example, some codes may limit the number of rooms your suite may contain. How many permits total you will need may be determined by your style of kitchen and if your suite is fully detached from the primary residence. 

Here are some other typical requirements you may need to consider for your mother-in-law suite plans: 

  • An outdoor entrance to the suite that is different from the main home’s entrance
  • Distinctive sewer and water connections, although some cities let you run three different lines with just one permit
  • Off-street parking access like a driveway or a garage
  • On the site where the suite is built, there must be a full-time residence for which this new construction is an offshoot

2. Choose Location

The location in or around your home that you choose to build your in-law suite is a very important consideration to make. Whether it’s your garage, basement, or attic, here are some of the thoughts you should consider, such as planning the expansion leading from a door on the main floor that is most often neglected.

While a basement is the most cost-effective way to add your desired in-law suite, it might also be the most impractical for aging parents with potential mobility issues on the horizon.

Unless your suite is located in a basement with a walkout, you may want to reconsider your location. The easiest way to find success is to provide your parents or in-law with a full kitchen, full bathroom, and a bedroom at the minimum. This helps to avoid people stepping on each others’ toes throughout the household.

3. Privacy is Important 

It’s a tough transition for any group of adults when a mom or dad is coming to live with their child or in-laws. There are new boundaries to set, expectations to be made, and routines to respect.

Planning for the right amount of space and privacy will be key in having a successful in-law suite installation and finding the right balance between all residents of the household.

4. Keep Utilities Separate from Main Home

It’s good to invest time and money into keeping utilities separate from your suite and the main home. You can save energy by turning off the power if it isn’t being used. You’ll also have an easier time renting it out to tenants and keeping track of expenses.

5. Design Space Within In-Law Suite

Once you’ve decided on the location of your suite, you can decide what will be housed inside. For good cohabitation, many experts would agree that you should have a separate washer and dryer.

The same goes for a full kitchen, bathroom, and access to an outdoor space such as a patio or green space.

6. Best Design Tips for In-Law Suite

As you’re designing your in-law suite, try to remember that the people who reside there may change through the years, so keeping a basic design to accommodate the most diverse set of people possible will serve you well in the long run. 

  • Think about wider doorways, handrails, grab bars in the bathrooms, and non-slip flooring throughout
  • Ensure there are separate air conditioning and furnace controls, as well as high-quality carbon monoxide detectors and smoke alarms
  • Keep various rooms of the residence as spacious as you can 
  • Include as many electrical outlets as reasonably possible, including on both sides of the bed
  • Add a separate phone line, TV cable, and internet connection

7. Consider the Special Needs of Guest

Does the person who’s going to be living in your suite have any special requirements to ensure their quality of life? Do you need accessibility bars in the bathroom or special considerations for a mobility scooter or wheelchair?

When designing your suite, make sure you are creating something that can be accommodating for 10, 20, or 30 years from now.

8. Work with Certified Contractor

Don’t just trust any contract to build your in-law suite or in-law apartment. The expert contractors at Top Home Builders have extensive experience building these suites throughout the Greater Toronto Area. All of our designers and crews are fluent in local building codes and regulations so you can be sure that your renovation project is being done the right way the first time.

Contact Us

Deciding to add an in-law suite to your property is an excellent decision, but it requires a lot of planning and consideration. Our team knows what you’re going through with the life transition, and we’re here with a mission to make the changes and your construction project as smooth as possible.

Contact Top Home Builders today to book your free consultation and let’s build something amazing together.