mother in law unit

A recent study found that 45% of American adults 25-34 years old live in multigenerational housing. The trend crept up 18% from 2010-2020.

What if you don’t have a multi-generational house but want your loved ones near you? There’s a unique type of expansion that can house your relatives with a balance of support and privacy.

Read on to learn everything you need to know about a mother-in-law unit.

What Is an ADU?

An ADU or accessory unit dwelling is a smaller, second dwelling on the same grounds. It can be detached or attached to your regular single-family home. 

Most have a full bathroom, bedroom, small kitchen, and separate entrance. They also tend to have small living or dining rooms.

It can’t be bought or sold separately, and the owner of the main home is also the owner of the ADU. They can earn rental income from it or live in it and rent out the main dwelling.

What Is a Mother-In-Law Unit?

A mother-in-law unit, also known as a mother-in-law suite, is a specific type of ADU. They’re an additional living space added to a property or home. They can be attached, detached, or converted from a space like a basement or garage.

They must be permanent and fully functional. That means they need a bathroom, kitchen, sleeping area, plumbing, and foundation. Most tiny homes don’t qualify.

Despite the name, they can house in-laws as well as adult children. They can serve as rental property or other types of rooms.

The mother-in-law unit doesn’t become its own independent property. It’s treated as part of the single-family lot and must be sold with it.

Mother-in-law units became popular in the 1900s because caring for aging parents was expected of married couples and multigenerational housing was the norm. They dropped in popularity due to changing zoning laws after WWII but are now coming back into style. This is due to an increasingly aging population, higher house prices, and an increasing need for passive income.

Mother-In-Law Unit vs. ADU

A mother-in-law unit is often integrated into the main house. That means it may not have its own entrance like other ADUs.

The square footage of an ADU is not added to the square footage of the main house. Most mother-in-law units are part of the overall house and added to its square footage.

The permitting process for the two buildings is also different.

Pros of a Mother-in-Law Unit

The rise in intergenerational living isn’t the only reason the mother-in-law unit is becoming so popular. They also have long-term benefits for you and your family. Think about them to decide if they’re a worthwhile investment.

Keeping Family Close

A mother-in-law unit keeps your family close to you. This is especially important if they have health issues or require round-the-clock caregiving. It’s a cheaper and more personalized alternative to assisted living or nursing homes.

This closeness is also important if they’re struggling financially. It’s a better alternative to homelessness or eviction.

Your family can even help you in return. Imagine how great it would be to have an extra hand with the children around all the time. They’ll experience the benefits as well. Older adults who interact with their families have better physical and mental health.

At the same time, the separation of the unit gives them independence and privacy. They can have their own part of the house to go to when they need alone time while knowing that help is always nearby.

Versatility and Customisability

The extra space you get is fully customizable. It’s a fun project to come up with mother-in-law unit designs together.

A mother-in-law unit can be used for almost anything. It can house family or add rental space. If it’s not being used to house anyone, it can be turned into anything you didn’t have room for before. Examples include:

  • Gym
  • Home office
  • Libraries
  • Entertainment spaces

Financial Benefits

A mother-in-law unit may be the only financial option for family members based on their budget. It can also benefit you financially.

It can increase your property’s value in the future. It can also serve as a rental space you can earn money from.

Building the Unit

Stay up on all local ordinances and laws. They’ll let you know important factors such as how far it has to be from the primary residence and how many people can live there.

You’ll have to submit your plans to the local government before you begin. Like any home improvement project, try to submit for these approvals as early as you can.

Work with a contractor when building a mother-in-law unit. Try to find one that has experience with them. You’ll also need professionals in areas such as plumbing and electricity.

Make a careful budget that includes all costs, including materials and labor. A mother-in-law unit can be a pricy investment in terms of building and upkeep, so make sure you can afford it. Prioritize what you need over what you want and use cost-effective methods and materials.

Your contractors can help you turn all your mother-in-law-unit ideas into a careful plan. That includes choosing the right type, materials, and location. Make sure it provides all the necessary features while matching the aesthetic of the main house. Focus on functionality and comfort inside and curb appeal outside.

Stick to the plan and budget as much as possible throughout the process so you don’t end up wasting money or time. Leave room for flexibility and emergencies.

Once the suite is built, don’t forget that it needs to be maintained. Keep it clean and consider upgrading it while upgrading your home. 

Who to Hire to Build a Mother-In-Law Unit

A mother-in-law unit is a special kind of ADU or additional dwelling unit. Its main purpose is as a place for family members to stay, but it’s versatile enough to be a worthy addition to any property.

Cliffs Construction LLC has been transforming homes in Indianapolis since 1995. We bring a high level of commitment, enthusiasm, and attention to detail to every project. That includes home remodels, additions, ADUs, garages, and more. Get a quote for our services today.