What is a Mother-In-Law Suite?

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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 30 September 2019
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A mother-in-law suite is some type of addition to the home or grounds that provides temporary or permanent accommodations for guests. This type of addition is referred to by this phrase since it is not unusual for elderly parents to live with married children in later years. In general, the design of any suite of this type allows both the children and the parent to enjoy a measure of privacy while still being in close proximity to one another.

There are several options with the construction of a mother-in-law suite. The most common arrangement involves adding on to an existing home. The suite will usually contain all the basic element of living quarters, such as a living area, bedroom, and private bath. In some cases, a kitchenette and a laundry room may also be part of the floor plan.

It is also possible to construct a detached mother-in-law suite. With this approach, a small cottage is erected on the grounds. The cottage is completely equipped with everything required by the parent. Depending on the preferences of the family, this suite home may be near the main structure and connected with a covered catwalk, or be constructed at a distance on the property and connected with the main house by a footpath.


There is also the option of converting an upper or lower floor into a mother-in-law suite. Going with a plan of this type is especially helpful when there is very little property to work with and a ground floor addition or detached dwelling is not feasible. With this application, an entire floor is outfitted with plumbing and other amenities needed to make the space comfortable and inviting. As with other house plans with mother-in-law accommodations, providing the separate living space allows everyone a measure of privacy.

Developing the right mother-in-law suite house plans involves considering both the physical restraints of the existing property and the personal preferences of the family. As much as possible, the plans should make it possible for the family members to interact with ease but also allow everyone the option of having some time to themselves. There are a number of pre-existing suite plans that can be adapted to specific situations. In addition, an architect can assess the physical layout of the property and work with the family to develop a mother-in-law suite house that is ideal for the family’s circumstances.

Whichever mother-in-law suite floor plan is implemented, it is imperative to make sure the design and construction is in accordance with local building codes. Depending on the nature of the construction, it may be necessary to obtain permission from neighbors to build closer to property lines or apply for building permits from the local municipality. Before beginning any type of construction, it is a good idea to looking into local requirements and make sure you comply with them at each step in the construction process.


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Post 3

We're thinking about doing this and are currently looking at several mother-in-law suite designs. If you go to a showhouse or showroom with several set up on display it gives you a better idea of what is available. I prefer this to looking at photographs.

I thought our biggest headache would be choosing from the many options, but now the word is out we have two sets of parents vying to come live with us!

Post 2

My British colleage was talking about this kind of home design plan but as he called it a 'granny flat' it took a while to figure it out!

I think it's a great idea but it makes more sense to build or convert something on the ground level. Considering that parents are always older than you, dealing with stairs may become an issue at some point.

Post 1

I think that mother in law suite additions can add more value to the home. I especially like the idea of a home and a cottage on the grounds.

This not only offers a certain level of autonomy and privacy for the elderly parent but it can also provide investment income when the elderly parent moves on to an assisted living facility or a nursing home.

It also is a great selling feature that you have an additional income property on the premises. If you are looking into house design plans this can be a nice feature.

Also, your children can join you and stay in the guest home if they like and it really allows for more guests to stay at your home.

This would be especially beautiful if you had a coastal home. A coastal home design adds another layer of beauty and tranquility that would be lovely to share with others.

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