5 Ideas for Adding a Mother-in-Law House to Your Property

Peter Chambers

Feb 25, 2023

Mother-in-Law House

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Are you thinking of moving in with your parents or vice-versa? Multigenerational living offers multiple advantages. Furthermore, it may provide the meaningful way off the endless rental treadmill for millions who could never hope to otherwise buy a home in today’s world of soaring lease prices and stagnant wages. A mother-in-law house could be in your future.

However, you might not relish sharing your bath or living space — at least not every day. Enter the in-law suite. Such mini-apartments can exist in the same building or as accessory dwelling units elsewhere on your property. Are you ready to leap? Here are five ideas for adding a mother-in-law house to your property. 

1. Go High or Low 

Depending on your property, you might not have to construct another building to add a mother-in-law house. Those with sufficiently large basements or attics could find they have all the room they need. Even those without such amenities could integrate households by moving floors. 

For example, a gabled attic could provide sufficient living space for a bedroom and bathroom if you don’t mind sharing a kitchen. You’ll need to ensure adequate live weight load and perhaps strengthen your joists to support furnishings and a water-filled tub. 

A basement or full floor provides an ample living area, ideal if you have more than one family member looking to share the home. Basement quarters have the added benefit of staying cooler in the summer, although they can feel a bit chilly in winter. 

One final option is to build an addition to your home. This option is generally the most expensive choice. However, you may be in money-saving luck if one of your bedrooms has an attached deck or patio. Why not enclose it? You can even leave plenty of sunny windows for a Florida room-style concept. 

2. Buy One on Amazon

If you have land, you can get an inexpensive home delivered to your lot. Where can you procure such an item? Hint: you probably shop there already. 

You can find scores of tiny homes for sale on Amazon. Many of these kits make it simple for even inexperienced DIYers to construct a house from the ground up, although those who hesitate can have many models built for them for a modest price. 

You can find contemporary models with floor-to-ceiling windows and a covered patio for a mother-in-law house designed for outdoor lovers. Are you a cozy cabin lover? Discover plenty of models that would make Henry David Thoreau wish he could return to Walden. 

These backyard homes range in price from under $10,000 to over $50,000 — so your budget is the limit. You can even find off-the-grid-ready units that make it a snap to reduce your carbon footprint or keep your guests from running up your electricity bill. 

3. Repurpose a Backyard Shed 

Do you live in a desirable tourist destination? Do you wish you could rake in that sweet Airbnb residual income without having strangers track mud through your main home or let your kitties pull the Great Escape? If you have basic DIY skills or a burning desire to learn, you can get crafty by repurposing a backyard shed into an accessory dwelling unit and renting it out to visitors. Of course, your mother-in-law should get priority, but the choice is ultimately yours. 

You can pick up Tuff Sheds for less than $10,000 — but they won’t be very comfortable out of the box. To make them liveable, you’ll need to run electricity and water. If you want to make it a proper mother-in-law house or a rental unit, you’ll need an accessible bathroom and a basic kitchen setup. A sink, microwave, fridge and Instant Pot might suffice, especially if you share larger meals. 

This project will likely cost as much as a comparable boxed model. The difference is the customization you add — and the ability to complete your project a little at a time if cash flow is a problem. 

4. Go Boxabl 

Maybe budget isn’t as much of a concern to you as having the conveniences someone like Elon Musk demands. In that case, why not follow the famous billionaire’s lead and consider Boxabl for your mother-in-law house needs? 

Boxabl homes come with everything assembled — in a box. You’ll still need to do some setup work, such as establishing a foundation and planning for electricity and water. Even if you have access to such services on your property, you may still have to wait. The company plans to build homes more quickly and affordably than ever, but current production can take up to a year

5. Why Not Wheels? 

Your final idea for adding a mother-in-law house to your property is to make it mobile. Doing so could have unexpected benefits. A camper or a tiny home on wheels can come in handy on family vacations while providing grandma with a higher level of privacy when parked at home. 

Before you invest, figure out your parking arrangements. Many jurisdictions have rules about parking motor homes or THOWs on public roads, and some HOAs restrict parking such vehicles on private properties within their purview. You should consult with your local permitting authority before adding any tiny home, regardless of whether it has wheels. 

Ideas for Adding a Mother-in-Law House to Your Property

People have many reasons for adding a mother-in-law house to their property. Perhaps you want to take advantage of multigenerational living or simply bring in a few extra dollars each month with an Airbnb. 

Consider the above five ideas for adding a mother-in-law house to your property. With a little creativity and savvy, you can enjoy communal living. 

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