This recent article in the New York Times focused on how multigenerational homes are becoming more commonplace these days. Financial strains and unemployment are forcing many families to live together. In other ways, though, it’s also easier for families to take care of one another. For instance, whether it’s the grandparents taking care of the grandchildren while the parents are working, or whether it’s children looking after their elderly parents. However, Michael Litchfield, author of “In-laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats, says that this arrangement is not for everybody. “It is like having two sovereign nations next to each other.”
So be absolutely sure this is something you want to pursue. Of course, having families moving in together also means expanding or retrofitting your home. Zoning is an important issue to consider. Zoning varies across the country and it can create a variety of obstacles, whether a family wants to add a free-standing unit, expand the existing home or create an apartment above a garage or in the basement.
According to the American Planning Association, at least four states—California, Massachusetts, Vermont and Washington—now have laws requiring changes to the zoning rules to allow these modified dwelling units, also known as A.D.U.’s. Other challenges at the local level include parking. Many residential areas require the unit to have an extra space off the street. Also, there may be rules as to where the spot can sit on the property.
In some cities, you may also need a minimum lot size to make modifications. According to the New York Times article, “others might require the unit to be a certain number of feet from the rear and side property lines. In fact, all the rules have driven many homeowners to just roll the dice and add the units without their community’s blessing.”
One great benefit advocates have touted that have led municipalities to change its zoning laws and ease other restrictions is that A.D.U.’s help create a source of affordable housing—at no cost to the government.
A great benefit to consumers is that creating a unit within the footprint of the existing home is less expensive. “Carving out a couple of rooms and adding a kitchenette is also typically more economical than, say, renovating an attic, which often requires structural work because it was meant for storage,” says Litchfield.
Besides the financial benefits, the article concludes that probably the most satisfying part of an A.D. U. Is that seniors can find comfort and security, and it also allows them to age in place with their loved ones. In many cases, it’s a win-win for both the parents and their children. Parents with disposable income can help offset the cost of the modification and can help pay a portion of the mortgage and even split the household grocery and utility bills.
As a homeowner, you can hire a local builder, like Home Evolutions, to complete this project. Home Evolutions will take you from start to finish of your home improvement or enhancement project with minimal hassle and maximum results. We will work with you to meet all of your desires and needs.
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