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Are you looking for ways to keep family close while also upping the value of your home? Would you prefer having your aging parents under your roof, rather than with a carer or in a nursing home?

Then building a mother-in-law suite could be for you!

Here is what you need to know before getting started on your new living space:

What is a mother-in-law suite?

A mother-in-law suite is essentially a contained apartment within a single-family home. It typically has a private bath, a small kitchen, and a nice living space.

This space can be an addition to your home, a newly constructed guesthouse, or a renovated existing area, like a basement or a converted garage.

MIL suites are becoming so popular that many home builders are choosing to simply include them in new construction. These new additions make the possibility of adding a suite to older homes all the more attractive.

Why Build a Mother-in-Law Suite

Sometimes called a “MIL suite,” the most common use for mother-in-law suites is as accommodation for a mother-in-law as an alternative to a nursing home or community living center. Older parents could also be suited to live in this sort of accommodation if they are widowed and need a bit of extra looking after.

Sometimes, other younger family members also use similar arrangements if they need to be closer to their family for medical or other personal reasons.

However, these suites are not only for their namesakes.

In fact, many homeowners now use these spaces for many different purposes. This could be hosting family during the holidays or guests during long-term visits. They might even use the space to provide short or long-term tenants a place to live—like local college students who need a room for the school year or holiday-makers who just need a place for the week.

So, even if you don’t have a mother-in-law who needs to move in, or you do but you don’t know how long she will be staying, there are plenty of other reasons why having a suite like this ready is useful – including using it to make income.

Does a mother-in-law suite increase value?

Building a MIL suite increases the value of your home. That’s a no-brainer. You’re adding square footage while giving future homeowners a great gift: the potential for passive income via a built-in rental property.

And you don’t even have to build an addition to do it! Many homeowners simply convert their garages and basements into granny pods (MIL suites are often called granny flats or granny pods outside the US).

In fact, according to a survey by the National Association for Realtors, many modern homebuyers are “willing to pay extra for a basement and an in-law suite.” The same study also found that “a finished basement and in-law suite were the two most desired aspects of a home that buyers would be willing to pay more for.”

So, if you can afford the investment (usually about $10,000 to $30,000) then your return on investment is likely to be worth it. You would just need to be sure to make the rooms are wheelchair accessible, as that is typically an issue that might come up.

How to Build a Mother-in-Law Suite

Building a mother-in-law suite is very similar to any other construction project in your home. First, you need to decide where to place the apartment. If you’re lucky enough to have a basement or garage, then those rooms are the best place to start.

If not, you can consider building an addition or freestanding guesthouse, although these two options are typically pricier than the first two.

As you build the additional space into your home, it is also important to keep energy efficiency in mind. This is the only downside of installing a grant flat into your home. You’re potentially going to be paying double the electricity and water bills.

To avoid this, especially if you don’t plan to just house your MIL in the space, but rather rent it out, make sure to install Energy Star appliances and low-energy light bulbs. It is truly the little things that will save you money in the long run. You don’t want to skimp out to save while you’re renovating the space, only to spend all of that money on bills later in the process.

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Looking for a home with a mother-in-law suite? The team at Clever is here to help you find it! Call us today at 1-833-2-CLEVER or fill out our online form to start.


Andrew Schmeerbauch

Andrew Schmeerbauch is the Director of Marketing at Clever Real Estate, the free online service that connects you top agents to save on commission. His focus is educating home buyers and sellers on navigating the complex world of real estate with confidence and ease. Andrew has worked on projects for the United Nations and USC and has a particular passion for investing and finance. Andrew's writing has been featured in Mashvisor, L&T, Ideal REI, and Rentometer.

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