Have you always wanted your family close? Are they moving in? Maybe your mind is made up concerning having aging parents or in-laws live with you, but there are considerations everyone needs to be aware of.
In this article I want to list some of the scenarios most commonly faced by those I've worked with over the years. My hope is that at least a few of them will give you reason to pause and reflect. No one should get deep into a major house remodel or home addition without having these questions answered.
Understanding the "Either-Or" Aspect of In-Law Quarters Home Additions
Preparations for the addition of extra family members can be involved and time consuming. Frankly, I believe they should be. It's not a decision that should be made quickly and, in my opinion, decisions about this that were made years ago need to be revisited.
Done correctly and with proper forethought, the best solutions will be achieved. Otherwise, great intentions can become the worst nightmares. Here's what I mean:
PRIVACY: Yours vs. Theirs
A certain amount of privacy will usually be lost. Knowing exactly what privacy issues are most important to both sides is going to help you with planning and designing. Will you want complete separation? Will there be shared spaces and functions? How will this be arranged and managed over time?
LIVING HABITS: Loners vs. Socialites
People are different. Families are different. Assumptions that everyone will get along because "we're family" is naïve. Who's the loner in your family? Who has to be around others all the time? What provisions can you make to accommodate these differences?
HEALTH ISSUES: Independent vs. Nursing Care
Some people remain independent to the end. Many hold on to their independence longer than they should. Are you in agreement with your loved ones about how this will be now and in the future? Sometimes you have to prepare for one thing now and then be set up to adjust later on. Will there be home nursing care?
LIVING COSTS: They Pay vs. You Pay
It is not wrong to discuss money. A home addition, remodel, or the addition of an apartment costs money to create and then maintain. It costs money for their care as years go by. By all means, have open and frank discussions about how the money will work and who pays for what. I've seen assumptions sour many good relationships.
HOME VALUE: Equity Creation vs. Functional Addition
Your hearts may be set on assisting your family. This shouldn't preclude using good design that adds value to your home. Good design also makes living more comfortable. This being said, it is up to you whether your goal is to simply care for your family or focus more on adding value to the home. Sometimes there will be a little give and take there. Address this.
ARRANGEMENTS: Permanent vs. Temporary
What happens when they are no longer around? What will become of your addition? Will you be able to use it for guests? Will you rent it out to others as a source of income? Will you want to turn the area into a completely different use?
EXPANSION: Simple Remodel vs. New Addition
The make-over doesn't have to be a major addition to your home. Depending on decisions you make in accordance with your needs, a simple remodel may be sufficient. It may not even require adding any square footage to the home, separate entrances, or additional bathrooms or kitchens.
HOW EXTENSIVE: New Addition vs. Separate Apartment
If your current home is not adequate to handle any more people living in it then an addition is required. This can be an extension to the house, a room above the garage, or a completely separate apartment. All these options should be considered and building codes explored. Usually a balance between the advantages and disadvantages of each is required.
PROFESSIONAL HELP: Owner-Builder vs. General Contractor
I'm a proponent of Owner Builder projects. I have guided people through complete Owner-Builder home building projects from scratch. Is this for you? I can't say, but what I can say is that a home addition is major and if you elect to be an owner builder, please utilize the help of a home building coach.
In conclusion, the direction you take should take all these considerations into account. It will likely be a joint decision that can't please everyone completely but offers the best help where it's needed the most. I wish you well. Family first!