Multi-generational living is on the rise. As of 2016, 20% of households had two or more adult generations living under the same roof. The number of multi-generational households has been steadily increasing over the past few decades, from 25.8 million in 1970 to 64 million in 2016.
One way to live peacefully with your parents or your spouse’s parents is to choose a house with an in-law suite. In-law suites come in a variety of sizes and styles. Some are part of the house, while others are detached structures on your property. All have a separate bathroom, and some also have a separate kitchen area. If you are considering house plans with an attached guesthouse or detached mother-in-law suite floor plans, knowing what you need and the benefits of including an in-law suite will help you choose the house plan that works best for you.
Characteristics of Houses With In-Law Suites
What makes an in-law suite different from just another room in a house? In-law suites or guesthouses usually have several characteristics in common. They are part of the house but also distinct from it. The individuals living in the guesthouse or in-law suite are living in your house or on your property. But the design of the area allows them to retain a fair amount of independence.
A few features in-law suites offer include:
- Privacy: All in-law suites offer some level of privacy. The suite provides a place for your in-law or other relatives to go when they need some time alone. Some suites offer more privacy than others. They might have a separate kitchen area and sitting room so your in-law can have guests over without having to disturb other members of the household.
- Separate bathroom: A separate, full bathroom is one feature that all in-law suites have in common. The bathroom can be connected to a bedroom or located off of a sitting room included in the suite.
- Accessibility: Ideally, an in-law suite will be accessible. Since older adults who might have mobility issues typically live in the suites, it’s important that they are located on the ground floor and are step-free. If the in-law suite must be on an upper story, you might need to find ways to make it more accessible to someone who might not be able to use the stairs.
- Space: An in-law suite should be large enough for a person to be comfortable. How much space you have to devote to the in-law suite depends largely on the house plan you choose and the size of the home you want to live in. Usually, larger homes are better suited for in-law suites. It might also be possible to build a detached structure on your property if your existing house isn’t big enough to accommodate a separate living area.
- Separate entrance: To make the in-law suite feel even more private and separate from the rest of your home, it might be worth considering a house plan that has a suite or guesthouse with its own entrance. With a private entrance, your relatives or houseguests can come and go as they wish without disturbing other members of the household.
5 Benefits of Houses With In-Law Suites
Why consider building a house with an in-law suite? Having an additional living space in your home comes with many benefits, even you have no immediate plans to have your in-laws or parents move in.
1. Space for Guests
If your relatives primarily live out-of-town and travel to visit during the holidays, living in a home with an in-law suite or separate guesthouse makes it much easier for you to play holiday host. Your guests will have more privacy and are less likely to feel as if they are intruding on you. An in-law suite can also make it easier for you to host foreign exchange students or other out-of-town visitors.
2. Multi-Generational Living
Perhaps the biggest benefit of an in-law suite is that it allows for multi-generational living without the generations feeling as if they are on top of each other. Multi-generational living can go two ways. If you have an adult child who’s recently graduated from school or had another major life change, they can live in the in-law suite until they are ready to make their next move. You might even consider charging your adult children a small amount of rent to encourage them to be more independent and to prepare them for life on their own.
You can also have your parents or the parents of your spouse move into the in-law suite or guesthouse. If your mother or father recently lost their spouse, they might not want to live on their own but also might not want to move into a retirement or older adult community. Moving into your home would allow them to be closer to their family while retaining some autonomy.
Having your parents or in-laws with you also helps to reduce expenses. Your parents no longer need to pay the mortgage, property taxes and other expenses on their home. They can sell their property and put the money into savings. Living with you is also less expensive than moving into a retirement community.
Having your mother, father or in-laws live in your household gives them a chance to bond with any grandchildren in the house. They get to build a better relationship with the next generation, and you might get to take advantage of free babysitting.
3. Income-Producing Potential
Your kids are still school-aged, and your in-laws or parents show no interest in moving into your home at the moment. Instead of having the in-law suite or guesthouse sit there unused, you can turn it into an income-producing part of your property. You can list the suite or guesthouse on a vacation rental sharing website and let people rent it for a day, a week or even longer. If your guesthouse has a kitchen and separate entrance, you might even be able to rent it as an apartment to a long-term tenant.
How much you can earn by renting the suite or guesthouse depends greatly on your area, how large the suite or guesthouse is and how frequently you rent it out. Also, keep in mind that you’ll need to stay on top of the listing and ensure the suite stays clean between guests.
Even if renting out the property doesn’t appeal to you and it’ll be a while before any of your family members will be interested in living in the suite, there are still benefits to having a separate, additional living space in your house or on your property. An in-law suite gives you flexibility.
You can use the area as a work-from-home space, setting up a home office in what would otherwise be a bedroom. If the suite is large enough, you could run a small business out of it, hiring someone to act as your administrative assistant and work from the sitting area. You could also use the sitting area as a conference room or meeting space when clients visit.
Another option is to use the in-law suite as a study area or play space for your kids.
5. Better Resale Value
Building a home from house plans with an attached guesthouse or modern farmhouse plans with an in-law suite can mean that your property gets a better price when it’s time to sell. Just as an in-law suite or guesthouse sounds appealing to you, it also sounds appealing to many home buyers. People looking for a house with an in-law suite will be more interested in your home and willing to pay more for it than a house that doesn’t already have an in-law suite or guesthouse.
Common Types of Houses With In-Law Suites
House with in-law suites come in many styles, from modern farmhouses to modified Cape Cods. The type of in-law suite available also varies from house to house. Some house plans feature a breezeway that connects the main house to the in-law suite, while others have an entirely detached guesthouse.
- Separate guesthouse: If your plot of land is large enough, it might make sense to build a separate guesthouse to act as an in-law suite. You might find house plans that include a guesthouse as part of the plan, or you might use two separate plans — one for the main house and one for the second structure.
- Breezeway to the guesthouse: House plans with a breezeway and an in-law suite give your guests a way to travel from the main house to the guesthouse without getting wet in the rain. Although the structures are separate and have their own entrances, the breezeway offers a way of connecting them.
- Attached in-law suite: In some cases, building a house with an attached in-law suite makes the most sense. If you know that you’d like your parents or in-laws to move in at some point or you anticipate your children boomeranging back into the house after college, picking a house plan that has at least one additional bedroom with an ensuite bathroom makes sense.
- Above the garage in-law suite: Some house plans include space for an in-law suite above an attached garage. In some plans, this space might be labeled “bonus,” and you can decide what to do with it. Choosing a house with an in-law suite above the garage can make sense if you expect your children to live in it or if you primarily plan on renting the suite out on a vacation rental website. Otherwise, a second-story in-law suite might be too difficult for an older adult with mobility issues to access.
- Basement in-law suite: If a house plan has an unfinished basement, it might be possible to turn the basement area into an in-law suite. Creating a basement in-law suite can be ideal for a few reasons. If the entrance to the basement is level with the ground, the in-law suite will be accessible. The basement is also usually set apart from the rest of the house, giving whoever lives in the in-law suite plenty of peace and privacy.
3 Examples of Houses With In-Law Suites
If you’re interested in building a house with an in-law suite or guesthouse, you have many options. Take a look at a few examples of homes with in-law suites.
- Craftsman-style house plan: This single-story country Craftsman home features a separate “guest nest” next to the main house. The 514-square-foot guest nest has a single bedroom with an ensuite bathroom as well as a separate living and dining area with a kitchen. There’s also a small porch. The main house is 1,671 square feet and features four bedrooms, two bathrooms and an attached two-car garage.
- Traditional house plan: This single-story ranch features a 1,651-square-foot main house and a separate 405-square-foot in-law suite attached to the three-car garage. The main house has two bedrooms, two bathrooms and a den. The in-law suite has a single bedroom, one bathroom and a great room. There’s also a porch in front of the entrance to the in-law suite.
- Colonial-style house plan: This classic Colonial-style home is 2,097 square feet over two stories with an attached two-car garage. The in-law suite is conveniently located on the first floor, tucked behind the garage. The main floor also features a formal dining area, separate eating nook and office. The master suite is upstairs, along with two more bedrooms and a third bathroom.
FAQ About Houses With In-Law Suites
Still have questions about building a house with an in-law suite or adding an in-law suite to your existing property? Here are two of the most commonly asked questions about house plans with in-law suites.
What Is the Zoning for a Home With an In-Law Suite on the Property?
Zoning rules and requirements vary from place to place so your best option is to check with your local government and make sure the property you want to build on is zoned for a home with an in-law suite. If you’re building a separate structure to serve as a guesthouse or in-law suite, it’s particularly important that the structure is up to code and that it is legal for someone to live in it.
The rules about renting a part of your property to others, through a listing website or other methods, also vary from location to location. If you plan on renting out an in-law suite, check in with an attorney before doing so to make sure you’re complying with all the laws of your area.
How Many Square Feet Are In-Law Suites?
The size of an in-law suite can vary considerably based on the house plan and your preferences. Usually, an in-law suite is smaller than the house itself but still offers plenty of space for one or two people to live comfortably.
Contact Family Home Plans to Learn More About House Plans With In-Law Suites
Family Home Plans can help you find home plans that meet your needs, whether you plan on having your in-laws move in or just want some extra space to rent out. Browse our selection of house plans with in-law suites and give us a call at 800-482-0464 to get started putting together your dream home today.