Building an In-Law Apartment

in Apartment

Building an in-law apartment or an in law suite for aging parents or for adult children is a smart way to make a home improvement that will benefit your family and give you a good return on your investment.  Once the apartment is no longer needed for family members you have several options;

  • Rent it out for extra income
  • Use it as guest quarters
  • Use it for  an exercise room
  • Make it into a hobby studio

Before you get too carried away with building an in-law apartment check with your local building inspector first to determine what the local building code requirements are.

Building an in-law apartment addition is a smart way to provide for family members that are advanced in age and are considering moving to an assisted living community. They can save a bundle of their life time savings and they can continue to enjoy their life with family. Many baby boomers are currently dealing with this to avoid depleting their resources and remaining a part of the family's daily life. For this reason a home with an in-law apartment is attractive to home buyers.

Besides the savings from consolidating households the added square footage adds to the resale value of your home. Depending on how fancy you want to make the apartment addition and if you are a DIY handyman, you can build a 500 – 600 square foot apartment for under a $100k. In law-apartment plans can be found on nearly any home design website or you can draw your own plans for the addition.

The most practical apartment addition is on the ground floor. It should consist of a living room kitchen combination with a bathroom and bedroom.  The entrance and living space should be navigable in a wheelchair. That includes wide doors with no thresholds, bathroom grab bars, and closets, showers, kitchens and sinks that can be approached in a wheelchair. The utilities such as electric, heating, and water supply should be independent of the main home to avoid conflict with renters.

In addition, the addition should have a separate access from the outside with a wide wheelchair accessible walkway and entrance door. The design should be consistent with your existing home. Landscaping and shrubs should blend in to make the addition appear to part of the original structure rather than an attached addition. A vast difference in the design between the addition and the main home can detract from the resale value.

Making a basement into an apartment is not a good idea for several reasons. No one wants to live in a basement because of the moisture problems and the noise from the household above. In addition, making a privacy entrance to the basement is cumbersome at best.

Building an in-law apartment can be a smart way to improve the value of your home and provide independent living space for family members or as a rental unit. As a rental unit it can provide extra income to offset rising taxes and utility costs. 

Author Box
Les Donovan has 1 articles online

Les Donovan is semi-retired and lives in the lakes region of central New Hampshire following more than four decades in the aerospace industry. He has extensive home building experience having build four house, built garages, porches, finished basements and attic rooms as well as made extensive addition to houses. For the most part, he built the house by himself and acted as a general contractor for some portions of those projects. These projects included framing, plumbing, electric wiring, finish carpentry, masonry projects, sheet rocking, wall papering, and interior exterior painting and landscaping. His website offers DIY home improvement projects and ideas for the DIY homeowner.  Visit our site at:

Add New Comment

Building an In-Law Apartment

Log in or Create Account to post a comment.
Security Code: Captcha Image Change Image
This article was published on 2011/01/02