What To Consider Before Adding an In-law Suite
An in-law suite (also known as a granny flat) is a smart addition to any modern home. They provide additional living space in which homeowners can house family members, run a small at-home business, or rent out as a short-term vacation rental if local bylaws allow.
In today’s housing climate, adding an in-law suite can be the solution for multigenerational households, whether it’s a space for aging parents or somewhere for adult children to stay while they save for their own place.
One question commonly asked by those considering adding an in-law suite to a custom build or extension is: are they worth the investment?
Here we take a closer look at what an in-law suite is, what to consider when adding one to your home, and whether they are worth investing in.
What is an In-law Suite?
An in-law suite, formally known as an accessory dwelling unit, is a separate living space that can either be within the building of the home, i.e. a basement suite, or a separate dwelling on the same parcel of land, i.e. a carriage home over a garage.
An in-law suite should at least include a full bathroom and one bedroom. Some may include kitchen and laundry facilities, but these are not required.
Is an In-law Suite the Same Thing as a Legal suite?
While legal suites are also separate living spaces within the same house, they differ because a legal suite must have all the necessities to be a completely independent housing unit.
Legal suites, sometimes called secondary dwelling units or suites, are often in the basement of a house but could also be separate buildings on the lot. They must conform to all city and/or provincial building codes and requirements. To be classed as a legal suite, the unit must include:
- Heating and cooling systems separate from the main home
- Soundproofing between the suite and the main home
- Separate laundry facilities for the suite
- Separate entrance on the outside of the building
- Must meet fire code regulations
For the purpose of this piece, we will be focusing on in-law suites specifically.
What to Consider When Deciding to Build an In-law Suite
If you are debating turning part of your home into an in-law suite, or you are thinking of including one on your custom home plans, be sure to take the following considerations into account:
How much privacy do you want? Because In-law suites don’t need to have a separate entrance, they are more suited towards family members or lodgers whom you do not mind living with daily. If more privacy is desired, a separate entrance and a lockable connection to the main home should be considered.
Fire code regulations: Any additional dwelling should meet local fire code regulations to ensure safety and security, especially if the in-law suite is in the basement.
Property ventilation: If the in-law suite is built above a garage, you need to consider adding proper ventilation to maintain the health of all occupants of the suite. In this circumstance, soundproofing would also be desirable.
Ease of building: Whether you are renovating part of your current home, building a new home, or adding a standalone suite to your property, adding an in-law suite will have a substantial cost. The amount of construction required to add the extra space will impact both costs and completion time.
Legal maximum by square foot: Even if you are not building a suite to legal-suite standards, it must still adhere to municipal property guidelines. Remember that free-standing structures on your property are not allowed in some communities. However, in other neighbourhoods, “in-fill” developments within certain square footage are encouraged to help with the housing shortage.
Additional insurance: You may need to invest in additional homeowners’ insurance for your in-law suite. Insurance Hotline says that many homeowners hide secondary suites from insurers, but this is not a good idea. While getting insurance for the suite may be pricy, not doing it can break the bank even more.
Extra amenities: Depending on what you want your in-law suite to contain, you may need to add plumbing and electricity for additional bathrooms, kitchen, and laundry facilities. Considering adding a second electric meter and phone and cable services if your family members plan to pay their own way for those utilities.
Will an In-law Suite Add Value to My Home?
When it comes to getting a return on investment, an in-law suite gives you an avenue to collect rental income for years to come. Therefore, it is a good long-term investment that will add value and saleability to your home in the future.
When considering the expenditure saved in not having to assist a grown child with a rental deposit, or the cost of elderly care facilities, the investment made in an in-law suite could certainly be worthwhile.
In an era when multigenerational living is becoming necessary, a home with an in-law suite already in place will be an attractive feature on the housing market if you decide to sell.
If you are considering adding an in-law suite to your home, consider building to meet legal suite requirements now, even if you are not using it as such to start with. It could set you up to easily achieve tenants, family or non, and will add further value when it comes time for you to move on.
Add an In-law Suite with LIDA Homes
Whether you want an in-law suite for your extended family to use now, for your family to grow over time, or to be a potential rental income, LIDA Homes can help ensure your additional space meets all your current and future requirements.
LIDA Homes has been building and renovating homes in the Victoria, BC area since 1998 and can provide expert advice on best integrating an in-law suite or legal suite into your existing home or custom home plans.
Contact us today for a consultation with our design team and start planning how you will use the extra space we can create.