What are the characteristics of homes with mother-in-law suites?


Quick Answer

Mother-in-law suites are secondary housing areas or accessory dwelling units with their own entrance located on the same property as the primary residence. Most in-law suites are complete with a living area, a kitchenette, a bedroom and a bathroom.

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Full Answer

Many in-law suites are not a part of the original home and are either added to or renovated from an existing part of the home. Some suites are built over a garage or in a basement, or they're added as an attachment to a single family home. Occasionally, a suite is a detached dwelling, such as a small guest house or pool house in the back yard of a home. Most communities have strict zoning ordinances regarding in-law apartments, with some enforcing restrictions on who can occupy such a suite.

Some of the biggest concerns about a secondary dwelling unit are parking, overcrowding, increased traffic and the aesthetic impact on a neighborhood. In zones where these units are allowed, many homeowners use the suite as an income-generating space by renting it out. Families that utilize a mother-in-law suite as an apartment for an older family member tend to make it handicap accessible and add ramps, safety bars in the bathroom and an alert system for emergencies.

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