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- Adding an In-Law Suite
Adding an In-Law Suite
- Photo: coolhouseplans.com
Design Spaces within the Space
Once the space has been chosen, decide what can be included. A separate bathroom and adequate storage in the bedroom sitting area are essential. Separate washer- dryers (stackables are a good option here) might be included in the bathroom closet area.
A separate entrance and kitchen can take it to another level. But separate cooking facilities and separate entrances, Gibbs cautions, may actually pose zoning code issues. The code might consider the space a freestanding apartment that can be rented out, which might be prohibited in a neighborhood zoned for single-family occupancy. For this reason, he says, “we rarely incorporate a full kitchen but may design what is labeled as a wet bar.
Buckner has found similar issues. “In most jurisdictions in Oregon, you’re prohibited from having two complete kitchens in a residence,” she says. “Basically you can include a kitchenette, which is everything except a cooktop-oven. Depending on the age and circumstances with clients, I have designed various options. A kitchenette would include a sink, dishwasher, refrigerator, and microwave. Some include just having a minibar refrigerator, sink, and microwave. Another option is to have no kitchen facilities and eat communally with the family.”
Where regulations allow, Buckner says, “separate entrances are commonly requested and planned for in the design. Usually this scenario involves parents with good mobility who can still drive and care for themselves. They just need a little extra support — whether financial, physical or psychological. Perhaps their spouse has died and they are lonely. Half of the projects with two master suites that I have designed have had their own access to decks, patios, and/or egress to the street.”
Tips to Remember
As the in-law suite is created, remember that the occupants of the suite may change, so keep the basic design attractive for any future occupants. Here are some other essentials to keep in mind:
- Make areas of the suite as spacious as possible. Incorporate universal design principles not only in the suite but also throughout the house if possible. These designs can include no-slip flooring, considerations for height and reachability, wider doorways, grab bars, and handrails. Make sure the suite has some relationship to public areas of the home.
- Install separate light, heat, and air-conditioning controls as well as smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors.
- Choose easy-open door and drawer hardware and install overhead and hand-held shower heads.
- Place electrical outlets on both sides of the bed. Consider installing emergency call buttons or at least a jack. Install a separate phone line, Internet connection, and cable jacks, and perhaps a stereo system unique to the suite.
- Choose materials that ensure the health, safety. and welfare of the occupants.
Expanding a Home to Create an In-Law Suite
More and more homeowners are converting their houses into multigenerational homes for themselves, their children, and their aging parents. Howard Brickman, an old friend of the Bob Vila show who specializes in hardwood flooring installations, added space to his Norwell, MA, home to make room for his mother-in-law, who wanted to move closer to family. Brickman also wanted to be able to help her if she needed it. The walls and floor of the addition were built of energy-efficient Reddi-Form insulated concrete forms (ICFs). ICFs work like building blocks to make light work of foundations and walls. These forms are designed to use less concrete and still carry the load of a soaring 20-foot-gable end wall. Once the shell has been poured, a specialized framing system for the deck or interior floors of the home is set in place for the concrete pour. This high-efficiency, thermally smart home also has a solar roof to help reduce the family’s utility bills and usage. Air quality is a top priority, so all steps were taken to dry the house completely and stop mold from starting once the walls were put up. A deck, beautiful windows, flooring, a fireplace faced in stone, doors, and worry-free trim complete this new home.
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