Tips to Building the Perfect In-Law Suite - How Big? What's the Cost?

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Mother-in-Law Suite Homes in Raleigh, NC

What exactly is an In-Law Suite?

According to the 2000 Census, there are at least 3.9 million American families who have at least 3 generations living in one household.  

So Mom, Dad, Grandma, and Joey and Jen all share a cozy home.   Sometimes this is temporary - maybe Joey went to college, moved out, but came back after he graduated so that he could save for his own home. 

Or maybe it was a mutual decision that Grandma should move in - she loves watching the young kids, saves on expenses, and since she doesn't get around as well as she used to, her support group is right down the hall. 

An In-Law Suite is a planned area for additional adults to share living space on a temporary, semi-permanent, or permanent basis.  It can be:

  • A bedroom with a full bath attached.
  • A bedroom with a sitting room near a full bath.
  • A small "apartment" which may have a bedroom and a living room/kitchenette combination.
  • A suite with a separate entrance.

Will you be allowed to build a full in-law suite?

Before deciding to include a full suite in your next home, check on the area building codes.  Some areas don't allow a second kitchen or a "rentable unit" on some lots.

Are you planning to sell your home?

If you're planning to sell your home someday (which most of us will, within 5-7 years of the purchase of the home), think about the type of suite that a potential buyer will want.  In most cases, an in-law suite that consists of just a bedroom with a private bath, downstairs if possible, will be most desirable - because they offer a multitude of uses.

A downstairs bedroom with full attached bath can be:

  • A place for a partner to recuperate from illness.
  • A great guest room.
  • A quiet and convenient office or study.
  • A place for Grandma and Grandpa to stay for three months without having to climb the stairs - or interrupt the upstairs sleeping habits.

Raleigh Custom Home Builder - New Homes Raleigh - Tips to Finding the Perfect In Law Suite - Retirement HomesWhat is your budget?

Adding a full attached bathroom to a downstairs bedroom can add some cost.  If your septic permit only allows three bedrooms - and those are all upstairs - you may need to pay for an expanded system, which can add 25-75% to the septic cost. 

An additional full bath can add at least several thousand to the cost of the home, depending on whether you prefer tile and premium cabinets, or a more typical vinyl floor and fiberglass tub.  It's more typical to see a half bath downstairs. 

But the cost of adding a full suite with kitchenette can be significant.  There will be kitchen appliances, plumbing, countertops, lots of cabinets, and simply the cost of the additional square footage to consider.  And keep in mind, you may not get that cost back when you go to sell your home - unless you are building at a luxury level and can market the rooms as a "Nanny living suite" - which is another great use for an In-Law Suite. 

Where Do I Go to Find These Homes?

Here are some places to start looking for home plans with different varieties of in-law suites:

Stanton Homes - Homes with Mother In Law Suites

Dual Master Suite Floor PlansMother in Law Suite Home | MIL Apartment Homes - Home Plans with InLaw Suites

InLaw Suite Cusotm Homes - Home Plans with In Law Suites - Floor Plans with In Law Suites - Floor Plans with In Law Suites

The Newberry by Stanton Homes is an example of a home with a first floor bedroom with attached full bath, sitting room, and private entrance.  Click here to read more about the Newberry and for photo tour.



Customize a Floor Plan to Add a MIL Suite

If you can't find the perfect floor plan, talk to a custom home builder. 

A custom home builder may be able to expand a bathroom, add a separate entrance, add more closet space, or even convert a third car garage into a full suite.

Once you've narrowed down your plan, you can ask a custom home builder for a building cost estimate - they'll be able to work with you to determine the specific costs for your area, including details specific to your lot or homesite.

Suggestions on What to Look For in a Mother In Law Suite Plan

 Mother in Law Floor Plans | Mother In Law Suite Homes | Mother In Law Suite Floor Plans


Looking for a mother in law suite home in the Raleigh or central North Carolina area?

Just answer a few quick questions, and we'll send you a selection of floor plans that meet your exact needs and budget.

Find Mother In Law Suite Homes Now


Additional Mother in Law Suite Floor Plan Options

Bring us your floor plan or ask us for more ideas - we'll show you want we can do for your mother in law suite, adapted, or fully accessible home needs.

Find out more about custom homes with Accessible Features, Universal Design, and Specially Adapted Features:

How to Get Started Looking for an Accessible Home
Door and Hallway Requirements for Accessible Homes
Shower Design Ideas for Accessible Home Bathrooms
Choosing the Right Lot for Your Accessible Home
What is Universal Design, and how does it make living easier?
Laundry Rooms Designed for Easy Use
Top 10 Kitchen Tips - Universal Design
Entrances, Walkways, and Lighting - What To Ask For
Specially Adapted Housing Grants for Veterans


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Articles copyright Stanton Homes 2006-2017.  Unauthorized use is not permitted.  Provided for informational purposes only, no claims are made by Stanton Homes regarding the validity of any statements.  Please note:  all listing information per MLS, and current as of posting date.  Information subject to change.  Stanton Homes does not make claims to ownership of  any lot listings, but can work with homebuyers to purchase available lots and build.  Home plans to be approved on an individual basis, subject to neighborhood restrictive covenants and lot restrictions.  Ask for further information regarding any community, lot or floor plan.  Photos represent typical homes and details of each neighborhood, to help highlight different options available in the Raleigh/Triangle area.  No claim of ownership is made to homes or land pictured.  



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  1. Shannon Coe 01/25/2012 11:55 AM
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Daniel J. Brudnok, REALTOR
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Fox & Roach, REALTORS - Exton - PA License #RS-225179-L / Delaware License #RS-0025038 - Downingtown, PA


Always needs to be given alot of Mother in Law is having done at her son's home.....and it has been on the board for at least 6 months now....taking their time.

May 13, 2008 12:24 AM #1
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder, with thousands of floor plans and almost unlimited customization available! - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Dan - My parents-in-law just went through the process.  My mother-in-law's mother is now living with them.  They chose a floor plan with the secondary bedrooms off a private hallway.  She uses one bedroom as her living room and the other as a bedroom, with a full bath inbetween.  The arrangement works well for them, and the resale value of the home is strong because it's still a fairly standard floor plan.   There are a lot of different options...

May 13, 2008 01:43 AM #2
Renée Donohue
Savvy Home Strategies Realty, LLC-REALTOR®-Estate-Probate - Las Vegas, NV
Las Vegas Real Estate Broker -

This is great info!  The in-law suites and casitas here provide much value to a home and it is rare to find one outside of the jumbo range!

May 15, 2008 01:01 AM #3
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder, with thousands of floor plans and almost unlimited customization available! - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Renee - There are plenty of options, but I think it takes just the right balance to match needs and potential resale value.

May 15, 2008 07:39 AM #4
Denise Allen
Resh Realty Group - Chesapeake, VA
Realtor@ Chesapeake, Hampton Roads

We don't count it as a suite unless it has a kitchen in it also.

May 20, 2008 08:14 AM #5
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder, with thousands of floor plans and almost unlimited customization available! - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Denise - the definition varies by area and by architect - which can make it very difficult for homebuyers to find a home or floor plan that has exactly what they're looking for.

May 20, 2008 11:56 AM #6
Gordan Rushton

i couldnt find nothing any good to me they were all stupid plans ... it sucks!!!!!!


thank you

Apr 17, 2009 01:17 AM #8
Stanton Homes
Stanton Homes - New Home Builder, with thousands of floor plans and almost unlimited customization available! - Raleigh, NC
Design/Build Custom Home Builder in North Carolina

Gordan - I would agree that it's hard to find in law suite plans!  We do a lot of work with our clients to modify existing home plans to meet their needs.  A local custom builder in your area experienced with modifications should be able to do the same thing for you.  Best of luck - if you're looking in the Triangle area, we'll be happy to discuss your needs further. 

Apr 17, 2009 01:36 AM #9
Sharon Parisi
United Real Estate Dallas - Dallas, TX
Dallas Homes

This is a wealth of information on a topic that is relevant to so many today!  Thank you!

Jan 26, 2012 01:45 AM #10
Bill Reddington
Re/max Southern Realty - Destin, FL
Destin Florida Real Estate

The rules are a little different here in the South. But still some great tips. As we all live longer this issue is not going away.

Feb 02, 2012 09:12 AM #11
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