Multigenerational homes are at an all-time high. In 2016, the Pew Research Center found that at least 20% of US households are multigenerational homes. Including aging parents in the household dynamic has definite benefits. The process of constructing an in-law suite or a separate building (accessory dwelling unit/ADU), though, can seem difficult to tackle. Here are three basic aspects to think about before you begin.
Both the parents and adult children will need to communicate and sort out the details. First, make sure both parties are clear on what your respective lifestyles are like. It’s better to be clear on what to expect than have surprises (often negative) once everyone moves in. Privacy is another main factor in how you live. Make sure that everyone is clear on what’s comfortable for each other. Thirdly, what do both parties envision for the caregiving? Most older parents do not even want to move in with their adult children, or may not be ready for the transition yet. As long as you are clear of each other’s vision, your decisions concerning an in-law suite will be easier to make.
Cost is another important consideration. Most homeowners have never conducted a construction project before. The price range can be from several thousand dollars to tens or hundreds of thousands. Because an in-law suite is a very customized design, the pricing depends. However, even if the cost is higher for you, the longterm savings on nursing care and the benefits of having your older parents close by can make up for the initial cost.
As for design, one must figure out a few things. What are the city and municipal laws regarding what you can build? What are the limitations? Once those questions are answered, one must think of the actual design of the space and materials. Use the concept of universal design, which utilizes living space designs that are functional for all ages. Also take note of potential future needs, such as eliminating level changes for easier travel throughout the space.
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