Accommodating the New Family Dynamic


These days, new parents or those with aging parents are encountering a dilemma—“How can I best care for my loved ones?”  An incredible number of people are choosing in-home options, such as adding on or renovating for an in-law or nanny suite.  Unlike some other custom home renovations, there are a number of unique parameters to consider when planning an in-law or nanny suite.  Here are just a few of many considerations:

  1. Permit/Plan Restrictions:  Municipalities may have specific restrictions (by-laws) regarding what elements can be included in an in-law suite.  Contacting your local building department in advance of initiating a design is essential to determining whether elements such as a separate entrance, or kitchen, among other things can be included.  Depending on your home layout another question may be whether bedrooms are permitted to be in your basement.  Knowing about restrictions (if any) is imperative prior to establishing a design.
  1. Kitchen:  If there are no by-law restrictions, one of the biggest decisions you will encounter is to determine if there will be a kitchen included in the new space.  Will this be a small but entirely independent unit within your home? Ask yourself how self-reliant or dependent your new resident is or may soon be?  Is your family member or nanny going to want or need to prepare his/her own meals and will they be able to entertain others in their new space?  Budget, the area available, and plumbing access to accommodate a separate kitchen or kitchenette will all be considerations for your decision.
  1. Space/Entry/Accessibility:  Independence and mobility are considerations for a number of elements in your proposed new space.  If independence or accessibility is or may become a factor than an ‘accessible’ entrance needs to be considered along with a layout that will minimize obstacles.  Putting an in-law suite on the main floor is the most practical option with regard to accessibility for everyone.  Having an additional interior shared entry for convenience and safety is certainly a benefit too.  If this space must be in a lower level (subject of course to possible by-law restrictions), keep in mind access and egress windows must meet building codes.  It is also essential to consider sufficient and strategically placed lighting both inside and out for function and safety. 
  1. Style/Design:  Uniformity in style is essential to a harmonious transition between these spaces – keep this in mind for both inside and outside aesthetics.  Despite being separate units, consistency throughout will help you to maintain your homes’ charm and resale value.  Hard surfaces such as hardwood, tile, or laminate are better choices than carpet if mobility is or will be a factor.  Whenever possible choose easy to clean, quality, and durable products to maximize efficiency, longevity, and thus your investment. 
  1. Privacy:  Equally important is the need for privacy for all parties.  After all, combining households or welcoming a nanny can be a big change for all; design this new space to accommodate— an effective layout, sound reduction, and personal storage options are just a few critical considerations.

While these moves may be made out of necessity, it is crucial to design this space and make style choices that will make your family member or guest feel like they are truly at home - at Vanderzalm Construction Inc. we have significant experience in constructing and renovating homes to accommodate in-law and/or nanny suites.  We work closely with our clients to build suites that reflect their personal tastes while meeting these new lifestyle needs.  If you need a custom home renovation in the Niagara region– Call us today!