Mother-in-Law Apartments on the Rise

Covid-19 has had many repercussions on our lives. From the way we socialize to the way we shop, adjustments have been made. Some may have a longer-lasting impact.

In the real estate world, there is a rise in multigenerational living. Younger and older family members have chosen to love together to fight hardships due to the lack of employment and even moral comfort during these uncertain times. However, as the pandemic begins to slow, the rate of mother-in-law, or granny flats, seems to be rising.

What are mother-in-law apartments, are they a good investment, and where will they be headed in the future? All questions we’ll look at in this article.

What is an -In-Law Apartment

Since the start of the pandemic and the flood of Gen Zers heading back to the nest, the real estate market has seen the rise of the mother-in-law apartment, also known as a granny flat, accessory dwelling unity (ADU), multigenerational unit, or secondary suite.

This type of dwelling is its own smaller living space that is either attached to the primary dwelling or separated but still on the same plot of land.

These types of suites usually have kitchens, bathrooms, bedrooms, living areas, and some even have their own private entrances.

The name conjures a specific purpose, housing a mother-in-law, but the dwelling can be used for any purpose. It can be rented out, used for family members, or even for a child returning from college. There are no hard and fast rules for using this type of suite.

The space has two other uses that have become more predominant in a struggling economy. Many are using them for their kids who cannot find jobs that pay enough for them to buy a house on their own, so they are opting to stay home longer. And, with the uncertainty and expense of long-term assistance, families are keeping their older relatives under one roof to save money.

Not a Passing Fad

Although the rise of multigenerational dwellings and in-law suites can be pinned to the pandemic, as the crisis recedes, people are discovering that this type of dwelling is practical and remuneratively wise.

More and more, new houses being built have in-law suites as part of the floor plan. And applications for separate dwellings on the property have increased over the past year.

What was once seen as a fix for a challenging situation is now being seen as a savvy investment opportunity.

Can it be Rented Out?

Best answer here, it depends. Most places allow you to rent these types of suites out, which is excellent for homeowners and new buyers. They can rent the space, have a bit of additional income, and help cover the mortgage cost.

As for the legality, that depends on where you live. You have to check with your city. some have laws in place that govern the rental of these types of suites. You are allowed long-term rental tenants in some areas, but you’re restricted from short-term leasings, such as Air BnB or VRBO.

If you live in Utah, House Bill 82 passed, allowing homeowners to rent out their in-law suites.

If your city does allow you to rent out the suite, stop and think for a moment. I the suite is despatched, and just a structure on your property, how comfortable will you be having strangers living in your backyard? What happens if they turn out to be awful tenants.

Likewise, if your in-law suite is attached, will you feel okay with strangers in the basement or on the other side of the wall? Will you be okay giving up a certain amount of privacy?

The in-law suite, attached or free-standing, can be good investments and may even raise the value of your home. But, there are factors such as privacy and compatibility to think about before you jump in.

Can I Build One in My Back Yard?

If you have the space on your property that is open and large, then you can build a free-standing in-law suite. However, understand that this will be like any major home renovation or addition; there is red tape to cut through with the city and its zoning laws. So, don’t just put

build a structure in the backyard on your Saturday to-do list; head off to Home Depot, and fill your truck with lumber, do some research first.

Again, if you live in Utah, you’ll want to contact the Utah County Community Development Office. They will give you applications for permits and all the information you’ll need to build an addition to your existing home or build a free-standing structure on your property.

If your city doesn’t allow in-law suites, you’re going to have to petition to have your home rezoned or get a variance. This action will require you to collect signatures from your neighbors to petition the local planning board, and a variance could cost you upwards of $500.

If luck is on your side and your city does allow in-law suites, there still might be some restrictions. These restrictions could include the height or size of the structure, what can go inside the structure, what it can be used for, and such. Some laws ban full kitchens in these suites due to fire safety. Check with your local planning board before you start building.

What Will It Cost?

This will all depend on your needs, what you’re looking to use the suite for, and what type of amenities you want to fill it with. The cost of an in-law suite can be wide and varied.

However, on average, the cost of building a new detached, in-law suite will be about $181,000. If you decide to build an attached suite that will save you a little money, the average cost here is about $155,000.

If you decide to convert your basement into a mother-in-law suite, the cost will be a bit higher. A basement suite means you’re looking at an average cost of about $185,000. If you decide the garage is the perfect place to convert, you’re going to spend about $142,000.

Be aware that many factors will impact the cost. If your garage or basement is in bad shape, it will cost more. It will cost more if you need to do serious landscaping to get the yard ready for a structure. However, building an addition to an existing house for this type of suite will cost less than building a new, free-standing abode.

Does It Add Value?

Basically, yes, it does. Buyers will see the in-law suite and its potential as a positive when looking for a new home. If they are younger, that space can be a home office, family room, or even a rental opportunity. Older home buyers may see it as a place for elderly relatives to come and stay.

Another plus is if you love in a heavy tourist area, your in-law space can be rented out. This will be appealing to buyers because they will recognize the potential for added income and a way to supplement their mortgage.

Now the flip side. If you live in an area that does not have a lot of in-law suites, it may be challenging to have your home appraised to increase its value, as there are no properties around that recently sold to compare it to.

Is It Worth it?

Many factors are involved when deciding on an in-law suite to be a yes or no answer. This will be a very specific, very personal choice for each homeowner.

Do you have a large family or elderly relatives you want to take care of? Do you have kids who have graduated college but cannot find a good job that pays them enough to live independently? Are you looking to have some additional income and use the space on your property for that purpose? If you answered yes to these, you might want to look into an in-law suite.

Do you like your privacy and feel uncomfortable with strangers on your property? Do you have no kids and no living relatives that need support? Do you just lack the funds to build right now? Are you happy with your home and have no desire to move or change it? If you said yes to these, an in-law suite is probably not for you.

It can add value to your home. It could cost you a lot of money. It can be a place to keep multi-generations together under one roof. It could be a place where terrible tenants stay and refuse to leave. It is certainly not a black and white proposition. Take time and think about it, is it right for you? Just because a neighbor is building one, that doesn’t mean you need to as well.

But, if your family needs help or you want that extra income, again think about it and talk to people who gave built an in-law suite and get their thoughts before you break ground.

Revere Homes Can Help

When it comes to questions about building or buying a home, it’s best to talk to people with experience. Revere Homes has decades of experience and a wealth of knowledge about neighborhoods, zoning, building, and people.

Talk to them about building a new, semi-custom home and maybe having an in-law suite built into the floorplan; use that space how you want and allow that want to change over time. Whatever you decide, talk to the good folks at Revere Homes; it’s always the best first step.

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