We all want to live the “suite” life….but this one involves a change in your life to include your aging parents moving in with you. As the Baby Boomer generation is getting older we see more multi generational families living under the same roof. With more Americans living well beyond their 70s, more adult children are now left in a position where they have to be caregivers for their aging parents.
There are more than 50 million American families having multiple generations under one roof and the real estate market is reacting to this trend. Homes with in-law suite, extra kitchens, multiple master suites, a guest house and/or an accessory unit are offering flexibility when it comes to aging family members. With the rising cost of nursing homes, this multi generational living could be beneficial to all parties.
The restrictions for either adding onto an existing home, modifications within the existing home or building an additional structure (guest house/accessory unit) vary in each jurisdiction. Baltimore County Zoning and Harford County Zoning were contacted to compare restrictions, limits and the overall process. Harford County refers to the addition of the in-law suite (second kitchen being added) as “Cottage Housing” and Baltimore County refers to the addition as an “Accessory Apartment”. The process is overall very similar, the only real difference noted was that Harford County requires at least 2 acres of land to build a separate building not attached to the main dwelling: Baltimore County has no minimum. Both offices note that plans need to be approved regarding the layout/changes and there also needs to be a plan of action to remove the kitchen and return the home to a single kitchen residence. Once the declared person(s) will no longer be using the apartment, guest house, accessory unit the pre approved plan for removal needs to be executed. For instance, if a separate manufactured home, mobile home or guest house is placed on a property and the declared person/relative is no longer residing in the dwelling the structure needs to be converted into a storage unit or possibly a garage. This check and balance system is maintained by a 2 year renewal process for the in-law quarters. Additional information can be obtained from www.baltimorecounty.gov and www.harfordcounty.gov. If you are planning to build onto your existing home every town (and in most cases every neighborhood) have different rules when it comes to adding on to a property. Find out what is possible through a meeting with the building inspector or planning department in your town and they will be able to say what is allowed when building an in-law suite on your property.
Another sector of the aging population prefer to preserve their independence and choose a manageable home for future years. A ranch style home where everything is accessible on one floor and allows opportunity for independence for years to come. For the “active adult” there are also age-restricted communities , generally for people 55 and over where maintenance is generally provided and residents live among their peers. Most are rich with attractions to include pools, golf courses and a spa.
So, if you end up being the “suite” child that every parent desires offering multiple generations to live under one roof (or multiple roofs) or taking care of them out of necessity check with local planning and zoning because this multi step process is a bit more involved than a typical addition.