What Is a Mother-in-Law Suite?


Quick Answer

A mother-in-law suite is a secondary residence on a property that may or may not be connected to the main house. They are often used by family members, such as mother-in-laws, for extended visits or as permanent homes. Sometimes these suites are rented to provide additional income.

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What Is a Mother-in-Law Suite?
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Full Answer

Mother-in-law suites come in a number of configurations. To qualify as a separate living space, the suite must have its own bedroom and bathroom. Most have kitchenettes or even full kitchens, even if the residents have the use of the kitchen in the main house.

Depending on the building codes and the size of the lot or property, attics and basements are sometimes converted into secondary suites. A basement suite with direct access to the outdoors, with few or no stairs, is preferred for elderly residents. An attic could work if there is enough room for a staircase that could hold a stair lift, an electronic or battery operated chair that is mounted on a rail and transports people up and down the stairs.

Mother-in-law suites on larger estates are sometimes quite elaborate. They may be free-standing cottages with their own driveways and entryways. The suites may be connected to the main house by a walkway or maybe tucked away in a quiet corner for more privacy.

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