In-law suites or separate living quarters that were popular in the 1970s are still etching themselves into floorplans of new homes. New homes with a suite and bath separate from other bedrooms are rivaling older homes built with separate accommodations, and then some.
In-laws or extended family can get the feeling of living separately from their kin—even having their own garage and outdoor area—and be a wall apart.
The return of this living style is to accommodate aging parents who are bunking with adult children and grandkids or young adults who are coming back home to save expenses. Studies show that more adults have had to move back in with their parents, and that multi-generational households—those with at least three generations—are on the rise.
Homes that include the traditional “mother-in-law suite” or have a locked-off living space within the home are popular with multi-generational families. These apartment-style spaces can be homes within homes, including a kitchenette, full bathroom and living areas to provide a sense of privacy and independence.
AIA Chief Economist Dr. Kermit Baker said demand for the rooms was a reflection of families caring for older relatives:
“As many households become caretakers for aging relatives, separate living suites have become popular options for accommodations. Homeowners want to ensure that their homes can support the needs of aging parents who may be staying for an extended period of time and other visitors with accessibility needs.”
Steve Melman, Director of Economic Services for the National Association of Home Builders, says that recent data suggest a slight increase in the share of multi-generational households. As the economy has gained steam, demand for homes with separate living suites has continued to climb.
Melman, who has written numerous research articles on the housing industry, said the second master suite has multiple uses for families, depending on their needs.
“Frequently, the second master suite is used for in-laws, but it could also be used for a caregiver, a boomerang student or even one spouse who requires medical equipment at night,” he said.
No matter the occupants, an in-law suite or separate living quarters should focus more on content than size.
"Separate living quarters need to be about features and amenities, not necessarily size," Melman said. "Don't get hung up on square footage."