How to plan for an In-Law Suite?

This week I would like to touch on in-law suites. They come in all shapes and sizes so here are a few ideas to make sure you end up with the appropriate situation.

Today’s home buyers are often young parents, trying to find enough hours in the day to meet all their commitments.  Many are responding to this challenge by having live-in help assist with childcare and household chores…and that means you’ll probably need an in-law suite.  In some cases, you may be one of the fortunate homebuyers who find caregiver accommodations ready-made in your new home.  Other homeowners may go with the DIY approach.  Here are some helpful hints to keep in mind when planning your space.

An effective in-law suite will be appealing to your caregiver, while at the same time giving you some privacy.  The challenge is to do that without putting too much strain on your pocketbook.  A good benchmark to help you determine what improvements are worth doing is to measure the cost against the expected lifespan of the expense.  For example, putting in a 4-pc bathroom can be costly, and may not be worth doing if you only see it being needed for three or four years until the kids go off to school.  In a case like that, rather than adding a full bath, you might consider a compromise of adding a sink and counter to a bed-sitting room, that could later evolve into a den with a wet bar.

On the other hand, if you can see the caregiver’s space being used long-term as a permanent in-law suite or used as additional living space as your family grows, then you’ll probably feel the cost is well worth it.  Remember too, the number of bathrooms is an important factor when determining the resale value of your home.  If you do it right, you have an excellent chance of re-couping some, if not all, of the expense when the time comes to sell. Your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Real Estate professional will be glad to advise you on how such improvements may impact a home’s future value.

Privacy and space are important issues with an in-law suite.  Your caregiver will probably appreciate a lock on the bedroom door, or at least a cabinet that can be locked.   As to decorating, keep it simple.  Light colours, mirrors and recessed lighting will all help make a small space seem larger.  Keep it bright with extra task lighting, including a reading lamp.  Choose inexpensive window treatments such as mini-blinds that let in lots of light, but still allow for privacy.  Add a large framed corkboard for photos, notes and other mementos which will allow your live-in help to personalize their space without it looking cluttered.  Include a writing area, either a small table or desk with a lamp and chair.

Plan your room layout in advance, and don’t forget to take wiring and other facilities into consideration before you start painting.   For example, you may want to install a cable TV or internet outlet or add a phone jack, or a baseboard heater.  A little planning can help make your space a pleasure for years to come.

Please share your ideas on how your in-law suite has made your life easier.


There seem to be many trends happening in the real estate world today, such as, upsizing, downsizing, lateral moves, adult children not leaving home or moving back home, to name but a few.

I thought I would talk about the trend of having one of your parents move in with you. My wife and I are going through this process as we speak and hopefully I will be able to give you a few ideas to consider when making this decision.

First you have to confirm with the parent or parents that this is something they would like to do. Sometimes the parents would suggest it or as in our case we suggested it to my father-in-law. When my wife asked him, he immediately agreed. It was like he was waiting for us to ask.

Then you need to discuss it with your siblings to see if they are in agreement. You certainly don’t want anyone’s nose out of joint. You know the old joke, “Mom or Dad always liked you best!”

The next thing you need to consider is what type of living arrangements you want. Does your parent want to be totally independent with their own kitchen etc., or do they just want to share in the daily family activities, such as dining, watching TV or whatever and just have a room of there own.

You also need to have a discussion with your children as this will affect how they go about their daily routine. In our case, all our children were supportive of having their grandfather living with us, but two of our three children did not want to move. We haven’t made our decision as yet, but if we decide to move forward we will be moving, as our house is not conducive to this sort of situation.

The list of things to consider goes on and on… Are stairs an issue? Do the bathrooms need to be altered?

This decision can be a little overwhelming but remember you can always count on your Coldwell Banker Pinnacle real estate professional to help guide you through this very emotional decision.