Showing posts with label granny cottages. Show all posts
Showing posts with label granny cottages. Show all posts

Monday, April 15, 2024

Expand Your Home and Welcome Family Members


With the high cost of housing in much of the United States (as well as other countries), many people are looking for ways to accommodate more family members in their existing properties.  Whether your new college graduate has returned home (but unhappy living in their childhood bedroom), or your aging parents are no longer able to live on their own, you may be wondering how you can find a way for multiple generations to live happily together in one house.  

There are many more choices available today than in the past.  In fact, some home builders are building new homes which contain a private apartment with a separate entrance for other additional relatives. I have a friend who moved into her own separate apartment in her adult daughter's home, and it has worked out well. She loves having a separate life, while being close to her daughter and grandchildren. However, if you do not want to sell your current home and move to a new location, how can you make the best use of the home and property you currently own?  Here are some ideas to get you started.

Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs)

Many cities have now altered their zoning laws to allow people to build an accessory dwelling unit on a single family lot.  This has resulted in a new industry of "tiny homes" which even be purchased on sites like Amazon or from companies like Home Depot, although you have to arrange to have someone pour a slab or build a foundation, in advance, and then finish out the interior.  

Some people who are skilled at do-it-yourself work, can finish out the structures on their own.  However, most of us will need to hire a contractor to finish these buildings, including hooking up the plumbing and electricity.  

These small, backyard homes, sometimes called "granny flats" can be the perfect solution for a young adult who has returned home, or for an older family member who wants to live close to the family, but cannot afford to buy a home in the same neighborhood.  Depending on the size and amenities, they can be built and finished for about $60,000 to $250,000.

Creating a Guest Suite Inside Your Current Home

If you do not have a backyard large enough to accommodate an additional housing unit, you may be able to carve out an apartment inside your existing home.  For example, do you have an unused bedroom, dining room or formal living room next to a bedroom with a bath?  With a little redesigning, you could convert this combination into a nice little private apartment inside your current home.  Add a separate entrance and a little kitchenette, and everyone could have both the independence and the privacy they want, at an affordable price.  Many such conversions can be done for under $25,000 to $30,000, depending on how elaborate they are. 

Garage Conversions into Housing Units

If your zoning laws permit it, you may be able to convert a garage into a secondary housing unit.  This is more likely to be allowed if the garage is detached.  However, in some circumstances, even an attached garage might be converted into a cozy 300 sq. foot apartment for a family member.  Since a garage already has easy access to electricity, and plumbing is probably not too far away, the conversion could be less complicated than building an entirely new building.  The amount you spend depends on the current condition of the garage, and how fancy you wish to make it.  However, it can be a convenient way to accommodate additional family members. 

Basement Conversions

Even when I was a young woman living in the Midwest in the 1960s and 1970s, many parents set up space in their finished basement for an adult child to have their own space.  This choice is better suited to young adults, because of the stairs.  However, a healthy older person might also be able to navigate a staircase.  If the basement has an outdoor entrance, this can be particularly appealing, since it will allow for them to come and go, or entertain friends, without the need to walk through the main living area upstairs.  This is a great solution for a young adult who is just starting out and trying to save money for their own place.  In addition, many families have already finished out at least part of their basement, plus the electricity and plumbing is already available, and it may take very little effort to turn the space into a cozy apartment. 

Get Professional Design and Construction Help

Once you realize that it is possible to carve out some unused space within your home, garage, basement, or backyard for a separate apartment or housing unit, it is smart to get some professional help.  You will want to maximize the space, give everyone a sense of privacy, and make sure the new housing unit has safety features, especially if it is going to accommodate someone who is aging.  Ask about things like grab bars in the shower, or a walk-in bathtub.  You may want to have an intercom system between the two housing units, or a fall alert system.  The safer the new housing unit is, the more comfortable everyone will be. 

Include Study Area or Workspace

In addition to making sure that your new living quarters have space for cooking, eating, sleeping and watching television, make sure it also includes a small office space for studying or working.  Many people are able to work from home today.  Even if they do not officially work at home, almost everyone needs access to WiFi and plenty of electrical outlets for their computer and charging all their electronic devices. Whether the space is intended for a young adult starting out in life, or a senior citizen, it is important to make sure their living quarters have everything they need, including a workspace.  If you can accommodate a favorite hobby, or space for plants, a pet, or other activities, they will be even happier and more comfortable during the time they live there.

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Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Senior Living in a Med Cottage or Granny Pod

(You can avoid sterile nursing homes.)
If you have an elderly or disabled relative who needs care, but the cost of a skilled nursing home is out of your reach, one new alternative is a Med Cottage, sometimes referred to as a Granny Pod.  These portable, backyard cottages are charming and can be personally decorated.  They also enable your loved ones to have privacy while keeping them close to their families. Even for people who can afford nursing homes, these small homes are far more appealing than a sterile, lonely room in a nursing home, removed from friends and families.  Granny pods can also be more far more affordable than paying for years of care in a nursing home.

Long Term Care in Your Own Backyard

Med Cottages are attractive portable homes.  They are delivered intact  to the backyard of your house where the cottage is then hooked up to the water, electricity and sewer system of your home.  The cottage operates like a portable nursing home with a private bathroom and kitchenette, as well as a washing machine and dryer.

Granny Pods enable family members to care for an elderly or disabled relative while allowing everyone to maintain their privacy.  At the same time, family caregivers are able to use the state-of-the art technology in the cottage to monitor the occupant, when necessary.

Advantages of Granny Pods

Many families have discovered that nursing homes are too expensive to afford for an extended period of time.  In some parts of the United States, nursing homes can cost $6000 a month or more.  Even in locations where nursing home fees are less expensive, having a Med Cottage in the backyard may be cheaper than paying to support a relative who lives in a nursing home for several years.

In addition, some nursing home patients become depressed and lonely if they are moved to a nursing home that is far away from their family, friends and old neighborhoods.  Having their own cottage just a few steps away from family members is a comfortable alternative than many seniors truly appreciate.

Facts About Med Cottages

There are currently three models of Med Cottages, ranging in size from 288 to 605 square feet.

Each one has a kitchenette that contains a microwave oven and a small refrigerator.  There is also a personal medication dispenser to help patients keep track of their own medicines.

The bathroom is handicapped accessible.

Special features make it possible for caregivers to monitor vital signs of the occupant.

For those with allergies and respiratory problems, the air can be filtered for contaminants.

The granny pods have been set up for easy communication between the cottage and the main home.  There are also special sensors that will alert caregivers to problems.  Some will notify family members in the main house if there are sounds that indicate the occupant may have fallen.

The prices that I have seen mentioned for the Med Cottages have ranged from $90,000 to $140,000, depending on the size of the cottage.  While this may seem like a lot of money, as mentioned before, nursing home care in many parts of the United States can run $6000 a month.  The Med Cottages may also be far less than the cost of building an addition onto your home and they can be easily removed when they are no longer needed.

Limitations of Granny Pods

Of course, granny pods will not keep everyone out of the nursing home.  They will not work for families that do not have a suitable backyard.  Local zoning restrictions may limit their use.

In addition, Med Cottages may not provide adequate care for those elderly patients who are seriously ill, need ongoing medical care or extensive physical therapy.  They may also not be appropriate for family members with severe dementia or Alzheimers, especially if they tend to wander away.

Despite these limitations, granny pods may be a caring way for many families to keep their elderly relatives nearby.

You can find more information about Med Cottages at

If you are looking for more medical and retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page.  It will link you to hundreds of additional helpful articles.

You may also be interested in reading:

Healing Relationships with Your Adult Children 
Alzheimers Symptoms, Risk Factors and Treatment Options 
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Helping Caregivers Survive the Holidays

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