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Mother in Law Suite | Milwaukee | S.J. Janis Company

Building a mother-in-law suite addition versus assisted living?


My wife and I are in the discussion of having her mother move in with us versus assisted living or home health care. Her mother is willing to pay for the expansion of our home with a mother in law suite as opposed to a less comfortable assisted living arrangement that is very costly. We have room to build and are wondering what other homeowners have done in the same situation.


In-law suites are becoming more popular due to the increased aging population and the high expense of assisted living and nursing home care. Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company just reported that the cost of home health care annually is approximately $80,000 and assisted living is annually $50,000. The staggering annual cost alone is enough for people to consider an in-law suite. The other pro is the ability to stay in the comfort of their families home while also investing their money into the family’s assets.

Before making any big decisions there are a few things to take in consideration. First, determine who will be responsible for the cost of the in-law suite. Is this a shared cost and what is a realistic budget? Redesigning an interior can be more cost-effective than an addition, but when space is limited and there isn’t proper separation, an addition maybe the best course of action. Secondly, make sure you have the space available to build-out in your municipality. Research all setback requirements including lot lines. Next, determine if a first-floor addition can provide easy accessibility or if you will have to build up for a proper layout. The first-floor suite is considered the best option and can also provide access to a private patio or garden for enriched natural surroundings. Also to preserve privacy for both parties consider building on the opposite side of the house from the master bedroom.

If all of these requirements are met then the next step is to find a professional contractor who has experience in designing for specific needs and functional design. Contractors with universal design certifications can help clients customize their homes with personal needs and future adaptability taken into consideration. Zero-threshold showers, wider doorways, and spa-like safety features are all examples of ideas to make in-law suites safe and increase the quality of life into the future.

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