From Euphrasia on April 7th, 2009 in Home Additions
Photo credit: Precision Design Incorporated
Of the millions of Baby Boomers now in their late 50s and early 60s, many of them are in-laws, with both adult children and aging parents comprising their in-law groups. When you consider all these in-law relationships enriching the lives of at least three generations, add to the mix the challenges of today’s economy, longer life expectation, and the high cost of health care, you have the perfect recipe for more in-law apartments.
An in-law apartment provides separate living arrangements on your property. The expanded definition, featured in an article on the topic on RealEstate.com, says that although in-law apartments vary according to individual circumstances, they do share common characteristics:
- A separate entrance
- Its own kitchen
- A private bathroom
- A personal living area
From Single-Family Home to Two-Family Home
In-law apartments are often not a part of the original floor plan of a home. They can be added on in a variety of ways: above a detached garage, on the second floor of a home, as a first-floor addition, in the basement, or as a guesthouse. Restrictions, codes, and permits are generally required for these in-law additions, and they vary from place to place.
An article on LJWorld.com says, “Designing space for an in-law apartment isn’t always easy, especially when the space is being added onto an existing home or into a basement. Local zoning regulations can make adding in-law space difficult, out of fear that homeowners are trying to create an apartment as a rental unit or turn a single-family home into a two-family home.
“Leigh Overland, a Danbury, CT., architect, predicted that zoning officials everywhere will be forced to review the issue in coming years, as the baby boom generation grows older. ‘In-law apartments have become very popular,’ Overland said. ‘It is becoming and will become a more sought-after renovation and addition, especially when the economy pushes people toward downsizing and, more importantly, as more families realize the importance of living together.’”
A Growing Trend with the Potential to Lower Assisted Living Costs
This growing trend and desirability of in-law apartments has been on the rise for some time. A 2007 article on the topic on CNNMoney said, “With the leading edge of the 76 million baby boomers now turning 60, the number of Americans ‘aging in place’ will balloon over the next few decades. By 2030, there will be 70 million seniors. Between now and then, the number of seniors requiring some living assistance will expand as well. According to MetLife, the national average base rate in 2006 for an assisted living facility was $2,968 per month, or $35,616 a year. That’s up 17.6% from 2004. The longer your mother-in-law can comfortably age in place, the longer she can put off paying those big expenses.”
Consumer Health Ratings indicates that a MetLife survey for 2008 shows that annual costs for assisted living average out at over $36,000, and that these costs can increase dramatically, depending on the type of care needed.
Many homeowners with in-laws are seeing the economy of defraying the cost of assisted living expenses by adding an in-law apartment, and want the familial benefits of being close to loved ones as well. For the oldsters, having an independent living space in close proximity to younger family members is probably universally preferable to moving into an assisted care facility.
As an investment in the value of the home itself, the addition of an in-law apartment is likely to be a good one. It’s definitely worth exploring the regulations currently in place in your area for in-law additions and following the changes in your local zoning board’s rules as the growing need for in-law housing makes itself apparent.