Do you take care of a senior relative who has trouble living on their own? Do you wish that you could combine households to make caretaking easier? If so, you’re not alone. The number of multi-generational households has been on the rise for years, and now many homeowners live with their senior relatives.
The process of building an in-law apartment and combining households with a senior relative can come with problems if the apartment is not planned properly. If you’re a homeowner who would like to have a senior relative live in your home, here’s what you need to do to avoid issues that can arise when constructing an in-law apartment.
1. Zoning Issues
Many communities have tight zoning controls in place to prevent homeowners from renting portions of their house to tenants. If you’re a homeowner who would like to build an in-law apartment on your property, start by checking with your local permitting office to find out if an in-law apartment will be allowed.
If the in-law apartment is allowed, you may still face restrictions on the features that are allowed in the in-law apartment. For example, your city may prevent you from installing a full kitchen in your in-law apartment. If this is the case, a kitchenette, including a counter and sink, may still be acceptable. Find out when you talk to your permitting office.
2. Shared Space Problems
Sharing a space with a senior relative can be challenging for everyone. Being roommates with a relative who you have never lived with, or who you have not lived with in years, can put stress on you and your family. The best way to avoid these problems is to have extensive discussions before moving in together. Set expectations so that everyone is on the same page about what living together will be like.
This might mean talking about which parts of the house will be private space and which parts of the house will be shared. Your senior relative might drive a car and may need part of the driveway for their car.
Perhaps your senior relative will want to garden or do outdoor activities that could impact your lawn and landscaping. Talk about all of these issues before deciding to move in together.
3. Stairway Dangers
Stairways might be no problem for your senior relative now, but they could become a problem in the future. If faced with the choice between building an in-law apartment in your attic or building an in-law apartment on the ground floor, an in-law apartment on the ground floor is often safer.
If you must build your in-law apartment in the attic, set aside money for a stair lift in case it becomes necessary in the future.
4. Lack of Age-In-Place Accommodations
Age in-place accommodations don’t stop at stair lifts. Work with your contractor to build age-in-place accommodations into the in-law apartment. If the in-law apartment is not appropriately senior-friendly, your senior relative could have accidents on your property.
Talk to your contractor about the installation of non-slip floors, extra-wide doorways and hallways for a wheelchair or walker, and grab-bars in the bathroom.
Contact Your Design-Build Company to Get Started
If you’re a homeowner who would like to have a senior relative live with you, plan your in-law apartment right. Start by hiring an experienced contractor. A contractor who has helped other homeowners build their in-law apartments will know which problems are likely to arise and can help you through the planning process.
When looking for a contractor, ask them about their previous experience building in-law additions. Check references to ensure that the contractor you’ve selected is a good one.
For more information about how you can get started with an in-law apartment, contact DESIGNfirst Builders. We’ll be happy to answer your questions and discuss your upcoming project in a free consultation.
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