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How to Modify Your Home if a Parent Is Moving In

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As their parents age, many homeowners are faced with a decision regarding care and living arrangements for their loved ones. In response, many homeowners are bringing their parents home to live with them. In fact, year after year, the number of Americans living in multigenerational family households increases. A record 64 million people lived in a multigenerational family household in 2016, according to a 2018 Pew Research Center report.

To accommodate their parents’ needs, homeowners might need to make modifications to their residences. These modifications can be simple, such as adding handrails to the bathroom, or more complex, such as building an in-law suite addition onto the house. Before getting started, homeowners should review design options, costs and potential financing for such modifications.

Home modifications to accommodate parents or in-laws

When making changes to your home if a parent is moving in, there are several design options available. For many people, the simplest choice is converting an extra room into a bedroom for their parents.

But for some homeowners, an extra room is not available. In those cases, an addition may be necessary. Adding a simple suite that includes a bathroom may be the right choice to accommodate a parent. If there is room available, it’s possible to add a suite in a basement or convert a garage. This may involve installing some Sheetrock, insulation, HVAC systems, electrical wiring, plumbing and flooring.

For those looking for something more expansive, an attached addition may be the right choice. More than just a bedroom and bathroom, these additions also include living areas and small kitchens. In addition, they may come with a separate entrance, so parents can come and go without disturbing the entire household.

When parents want or need more space, along with privacy, they may opt for a portable “granny pod.” Essentially, these pods are tiny homes that can be placed in your backyard. However, unlike tiny homes, these mini-residences cater to older people, with such features as wheelchair access, a handicap-accessible bathroom, and systems to monitor health conditions and provide protection from falling.

Along with all of these design choices, it may be necessary for homeowners to complete some creative rearranging throughout their home to further accommodate their parents. For example, you may need to move furniture in living areas to create wider pathways for walkers or wheelchairs.

If done correctly with quality construction, many of these additions or renovations can add significantly to your home’s value. For example, a well-done garage conversion to living space can provide up to 80% in return on investment, according to HomeAdvisor.

How to best modify your home

Regardless of which design choice you select for your parent, the No. 1 priority in each space should be safety considerations. For instance, when designing a bedroom for your parent, make sure the bedside lamp is within easy reach of the bed so it isn’t a struggle to turn it on and off.

Also, if there is an area rug, secure it with a non-skid pad or double-sided carpet tape so it won’t slide. Likewise, make sure hardwood floors are coated with non-skid wax. In addition, elevate the bed so it’s easy for your parent to sit down and get up. This should apply to any chairs in the room as well. Chairs with strong arms provide additional support for getting up and sitting down.

Safety features also should be added to all bathrooms your parents will use. This ranges from a toilet with a raised seat to handrails by the toilet and in the shower. Install non-skid strips in the shower or bathtub to help prevent slips, and put in a shower seat if your parent is unable to stand for long periods. Don’t forget to add nightlights between your parents’ room and the bathroom to aid them during nighttime visits.

For additional safety, review the “Aging in Place Remodeling Checklist” put together by the National Association of Home Builders. This comprehensive list covers everything from entryways and windows to flooring and bathrooms, plus a lot more in between.

To assist you in creating a modification to accommodate your parent, speak to building and construction professionals who have extensive experience with these specific building projects. The National Association of Home Builders recommends working with builders, remodelers, designers and/or contractors who have a Certified Aging-in-Place Specialist designation. This designation ensures these workers have experience addressing the safety and mobility concerns your parents may have.

The costs of home modification

As with any remodel, renovation or addition to your home, the costs of modifying your home to accommodate your parents moving in will vary based on the size, scope and quality of the project. HomeAdvisor says most homeowners spend between $10,579 and $27,000 on a basement remodel, with an average cost of $18,711. When it comes to adding a suite or attached addition, HomeAdvisor says adding square footage can range between $7,000 and $100,000, with homeowners spending an average of $40,915.

Keep in mind those costs don’t just include materials and labor costs. You also may have to apply for zoning and building permits in your city, county or state. These permits ensure you are building an addition that adheres to all current building codes. Per HomeAdvisor, the national average cost of these permits is $911.

Along these same lines, it’s also important to check with your community POA or HOA to make sure any additions or renovations conform to your neighborhood’s covenants. Although there may not be any costs associated with meeting your covenants, there could be costly ramifications if you do not follow these guidelines.

Options for financing a modification

Determining how you will pay for these home improvements will play a major factor in deciding if you will be able to move your parent in with you. There are several options available, so it’s just a matter of finding one that may work with your financial needs.

For instance, a home equity loan — a loan secured by the amount of equity you have in the property — can provide a substantial amount of cash that you can repay at a fixed interest rate within a specified term. Or, if you prefer to have cash available but don’t want to take it all at once, a home equity line of credit, or HELOC, could be the way to go. Similar to a credit card, a HELOC provides access to cash up to a maximum limit, which you repay in monthly installments. Interest is charged only on the amount borrowed.

Another option to finance a home modification is through a cash-out refinance. With this loan, you refinance your mortgage for more than you currently owe and take cash out based on how much equity you have. If you have a smaller renovation, a FHA 203 (K) loan could be a great choice. Through this program, you can finance up to $35,000.

Although a personal loan could be an option, it might not be a good choice, as the interest rate and loan term may not be as favorable as those associated with a home equity loan or HELOC. This could increase the overall cost of the home modification.

Of course, your parent or in-law may want to help pay for the construction and improvements. Talk with them to determine if they are financially able to pay or help pay for this project. Because you could be the one to reap the benefits of such modifications, be sure to discuss any repayment plans if and when money becomes available to do so.

The bottom line

As more and more homeowners seek to modify their homes so their parents can move in with them, it’s important to evaluate exactly what type of space they will need, what improvements will be needed throughout the home and how you will pay for these modifications, long before taking the first step. In doing so, you can make sure you create a home your parent will love and a modification you can afford.

 

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