When adding an in-law suite, check city building codes and permits, include a private entrance and use separate power and water connections. For convenience, the in-law suite should have a private bathroom and a fire-safe exit.
Before designing an in-law suite, the homeowner should check local zoning requirements, building codes and permitting ordinances. In some cities, a home that is zoned for a single family may not be permitted to add a private entrance or a full kitchen. Local building codes may restrict the size of the in-law suite based on the proximity of the road, waterways or the neighbor's property line. Homeowners should check the property's septic permit, which may allow a specific number of bathroom connections.
One of the most important recommendations for an in-law suite is to create separate connections for heating, cooling, electricity, water and sewer. The suite should also have its own smoke detectors. Separate systems enable the homeowner to rent the suite in the future, if zoning allows.
Depending on local codes and the relationship with the occupant, the homeowner should decide whether to have an internal entrance, a private external entrance or both. Accessibility is an important consideration if the occupants are elderly or wheelchair-bound.