If You Build It, They Will Come
An in-law suite offers peace of mind and a way to attract buyers
Bonnie Nelson loves coming home. She has her own light-filled, 900 sq ft one-bedroom apartment overlooking a lake in Buffalo, Minn. She has a fireplace, a laundry room, a walk-in closet, quartz countertops, a stainless refrigerator, luxury vinyl plank flooring and more storage than she knows what to do with. And she lives in the basement. Her daughter’s basement. “I’m blessed. I have everything I want,” says Nelson, 74, who moved into her newly built, in-law suite last year.
According to research by the Pew Foundation, about 20 percent of the U.S. population lives in a multi-generational household. And an in-law suite can add more than just space. The National Association of REALTORS found that 20 percent of buyers would pay a median of nearly $3,000 for a home with an in-law suite. “But it must be done right,” cautions Butch Sprenger, owner of Destiny Homes, which designed and built Nelson’s suite. “It should be attractive and useful and built with quality construction in order to create a valuable amenity if you decide to sell down the road.”
Before jumping into anything, check with your local municipality or contact a reputable builder and consider the following:
• Will the suite be in-home in existing space, a newly-built addition, or a detached unit?
• Do you need to be ADA compliant? Do you want to utilize gaining-in-place design principles?
• Check local zoning laws and codes (for things like number of bathrooms connected to the sewer system or the ability to have a full kitchen, for example)
• Is it legal to rent this space?
Privacy was a concern for Nelson. Sprenger made sure she has her own exterior entrance and access to the rest of the home. She can entertain on her own patio or share meals with the family, and she is glad to know, she says, that if she needs help, “they’re right upstairs. I was only thinking I didn’t want to feel like I was in a basement,” Nelson says. “I got that plus everything else.”