In-law suite plan

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alil
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In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

I come to this forum for guidance every time I have to make a major decision, and have avoided some mistakes in the past by following the wisdom of this forum. Thank you to all that share their knowledge and experience.

Briefly, I bought a house in a neighborhood with no HOA in North Carolina. I am engaged, will get married in May and hoping to start a family. I would like to build an in law suite for my parents who are in the their late 70's. A recent post on this form made me realize there may be risks related to building I am not even considering that can make my life complicated in the future.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=304224

The zoning department of the town I live in assured me that they permit detached dwellings based of the surface of my lot. I found a general contractor who has built attachments in this town and we liked his work. The estimated price is ~ 90K for a 500 sf suite, estimated time to completion is 6 months. I have 100K in a money market fund tagged for this project.

Anything I should be considering or doing before proceeding? The meeting with the contractor in order to sign the contractor is next week.
I am a bit worried about the uncertainty related to the Corona Virus but don't want to put my life on hold...
Last edited by alil on Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.
AlphaLess
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Re: In law suite plan

Post by AlphaLess »

I thought this thread has to do with a lawsuit.

My bad.

I guess it should be inlaw suite.
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Normchad
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Re: In law suite plan

Post by Normchad »

I assume the idea is that they would be living with you full-time, forever?

If so, there are lots of things to consider in terms of making it livable for them as they age in place. Wide doors for power scooters, curb less showers, etc etc. I would consult a skilled architect when planning this out, just to be sure you don’t build something that becomes just unworkable for them in some reason.

Any chance there will be jealousy/resentment that you’re building a suite for your parents, but not for your wife’s parents? People get funny sometimes.
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Sandtrap
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Re: In law suite plan

Post by Sandtrap »

Considerations:
1 Do not pay the construction deposit or order materials or pay anything else for construction until you get your building permits in hand, and the notice tag to display (pink?)
2 Do pay for the permit fee and any fee you are paying someone to run the permits for you, as well as fees for drafting, drawings, plans package prep.
3 Do not commit to sign a construction project contract, etc, until you have the building permit in hand.
Why?
Because if the plans are not approved and your building permit issued, you will have signed a construction contract and paid money up front for a project that has not been approved and need to be modified, etc, or cancelled. And, if you ordered materials or paid for that, as the plans change up to approval, the materials may need to be cancelled and reordered.
One comes before the other. Follow the steps to protect yourself.

4 Do you have a commitment for the inlaws to live in said new unit?
5 Do you have financial arrangements in place for the inlaws to cover part of electricity costs, or other costs?
6 Do your inlaws understand that as life and situations change, you might have to sell your home to relocate and then what?
7 If one in law spouse passes away, and the other takes up a live in boyfriend/girlfriend/friend or relative later on to live with them. . .then what?

j :happy
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Topic Author
alil
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

If so, there are lots of things to consider in terms of making it livable for them as they age in place. Wide doors for power scooters, curb less showers, etc etc. I would consult a skilled architect when planning this out, just to be sure you don’t build something that becomes just unworkable for them in some reason.

Any chance there will be jealousy/resentment that you’re building a suite for your parents, but not for your wife’s parents? People get funny sometimes.
Thank you, those are the things I will discuss with the contractor. My future wife is understanding . Her parents are much younger.
Kennedy
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by Kennedy »

alil wrote: Sat Feb 29, 2020 11:01 pm
If so, there are lots of things to consider in terms of making it livable for them as they age in place. Wide doors for power scooters, curb less showers, etc etc. I would consult a skilled architect when planning this out, just to be sure you don’t build something that becomes just unworkable for them in some reason.

Any chance there will be jealousy/resentment that you’re building a suite for your parents, but not for your wife’s parents? People get funny sometimes.
Thank you, those are the things I will discuss with the contractor. My future wife is understanding . Her parents are much younger.
I feel bad for your future wife. She may not want to rock the boat and object to your plans for your parents to live with you two. But she may feel some angst that she won't share with you until you're married and your parents have settled into your new in-law suite.

Unless there is a cultural aspect here, I wouldn't be so confident that your future wife is totally fine with entering into a co-living arrangement with her new husband and his parents.
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alil
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

Considerations:
1 Do not pay the construction deposit or order materials or pay anything else for construction until you get your building permits in hand, and the notice tag to display (pink?)
2 Do pay for the permit fee and any fee you are paying someone to run the permits for you, as well as fees for drafting, drawings, plans package prep.
3 Do not commit to sign a construction project contract, etc, until you have the building permit in hand.
Why?
Because if the plans are not approved and your building permit issued, you will have signed a construction contract and paid money up front for a project that has not been approved and need to be modified, etc, or cancelled. And, if you ordered materials or paid for that, as the plans change up to approval, the materials may need to be cancelled and reordered.
One comes before the other. Follow the steps to protect yourself.
Thank you Sandtrap - I read your posts carefully and learn a lot from you

We discussed briefly with the contractor the contract he uses. He wants a 20K deposit prior to proceeding but my plan was exactly as you describe to pay for the drafting and permit fees and pay the rest after the permits are obtained.
softwaregeek
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by softwaregeek »

With 500 ft or is hard but see if you can prep for a handicapped bathroom. Mostly space to maneuver a wheelchair and handrails. I did this but thankfully have not needed it.
bayview
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by bayview »

After reading the other thread, I think the obvious thing that hasn’t been mentioned is: are there any CC&Rs for your neighborhood, HOA or no HOA? Look through your closing documents AND ask the title company as well. Consider going to the courthouse to be sure.

We live in NC, and there are some breathtakingly racist (and now illegal) covenants for our neighborhood, and there isn’t and never was an HOA.
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cheese_breath
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by cheese_breath »

Is your fiance on board with this? Not everyone wants to live that close to their in laws.

Are you OK with your parents maybe looking over your shoulder and telling you how to raise your kids every day?
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
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Sandtrap
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by Sandtrap »

cheese_breath wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:00 am Is your fiance on board with this? Not everyone wants to live that close to their in laws.

Are you OK with your parents maybe looking over your shoulder and telling you how to raise your kids every day?
Certainly an "elephant in the room" that can be avoided for many years as long as folks are in "de-Nile".
Tread carefully.
Have an exit plan.

As for cultural issues mentioned earlier. That's always fascinating and at the edge of forum norms.
IE: when a man from the west marries a girl from various eastern, asian, cultures, he marries the whole family.
j :happy
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by Doom&Gloom »

Sandtrap wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:09 pm
cheese_breath wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:00 am Is your fiance on board with this? Not everyone wants to live that close to their in laws.

Are you OK with your parents maybe looking over your shoulder and telling you how to raise your kids every day?
Certainly an "elephant in the room" that can be avoided for many years as long as folks are in "de-Nile".
Tread carefully.
Have an exit plan.

As for cultural issues mentioned earlier. That's always fascinating and at the edge of forum norms.
IE: when a man from the west marries a girl from various eastern, asian, cultures, he marries the whole family.
j :happy
Good advice re: an exit plan. If DW had approached me with a similar idea before we were married or early in our marriage, I would have readily agreed. Five years later I would have resisted with every ounce of my being.
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Sandtrap
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by Sandtrap »

Doom&Gloom wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:53 pm
Sandtrap wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:09 pm
cheese_breath wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 11:00 am Is your fiance on board with this? Not everyone wants to live that close to their in laws.

Are you OK with your parents maybe looking over your shoulder and telling you how to raise your kids every day?
Certainly an "elephant in the room" that can be avoided for many years as long as folks are in "de-Nile".
Tread carefully.
Have an exit plan.

As for cultural issues mentioned earlier. That's always fascinating and at the edge of forum norms.
IE: when a man from the west marries a girl from various eastern, asian, cultures, he marries the whole family.
j :happy
Good advice re: an exit plan. If DW had approached me with a similar idea before we were married or early in our marriage, I would have readily agreed. Five years later I would have resisted with every ounce of my being.
I have seen this often in Hawaii where mixed cultures are the majority since everyone comes from everywhere over there. (which is wonderfully cosmopolititan vs neopolitan or vanilla)
4 generations living under one roof, and often, all from one side of the marriage.
It can get. . . . "interesting".

One senior retiree friend has sent money to support his DW's family and relatives overseas for the past 20 years as well as pay for trips as needed for them to visit his DW in Hawaii. (common and accepted by many as a norm)

Things are interesting when they get interesting.
j :happy
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by BarbBrooklyn »

So, when your parents can no longer live alone, they will need caregiving, not just shelter.

Do they have the financial resources to pay for in-home caregivers? Or is the plan for you or your wife to prepare meals and help with toileting and personal care?

Do they have long term care insurance?
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renue74
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by renue74 »

Are the parents actually really on board with this idea? You need to qualify that.

I have a mom who is 68 and lives alone about an hour away. I've considered buying a small condo for her near us and she jokes about it, but is stubborn and won't commit. Super wishy-washy.

So...for now, I just buy rental property and when she's ready to commit, I have a condo that would be ideal for her.

I think a lot of it is afraid of change, downsizing, etc. By the way...my mom only has about $30K in assets, lives on $1000/month...and "sits" with older people to make some extra money.
adamthesmythe
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by adamthesmythe »

bayview wrote: Sun Mar 01, 2020 12:03 am After reading the other thread, I think the obvious thing that hasn’t been mentioned is: are there any CC&Rs for your neighborhood, HOA or no HOA? Look through your closing documents AND ask the title company as well. Consider going to the courthouse to be sure.
Yes, for sure.

There can be convenants and restrictions without having an HOA. In such a case covenants can be enforced by any of the neighbors by filing a lawsuit.

In some ways it is actually better to have an existing HOA, because then there is an organization to give approval for your plans.
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alil
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

Thank you for everyone's answers.

I plan to consult with an attorney regarding the CC&R. I found some Covenants and Restrictions at the Register of Deeds from 1957 and 1971 when the neighborhood was being developed. They require approval for additions from the company who originally owned the land. I talked to a Company representative and was told the Company has no interest in the neighborhood and would not object to anything. There is a clause mentioning that the covenants can be enforced by the Company or any of the neighbors by filing a lawsuit.

Lots of neighbors have build detached structures and I am fairly certain no one has addressed this issue beforehand.

Not sure if a permission from the Company who used to own the land would suffice given no HOA that could grand such permission.

Very good points about the financial and personal implications of this decision. I am fully aware of the financial and personal risks.
Nana-B
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by Nana-B »

Hello,

I am a long-time lurker, but I had to register to respond to your post.

I cannot address the building/permit/financial logistics of your plan.

I would like to address the personal ones though. My sister and her husband raised their two children in a house that was divided into two parts, one for her family, one for our parents. IT WAS HARD, VERY VERY HARD. It might have been easier if she had not had children, but she was never able to feel she had any agency in her child rearing. She was watched over and criticized day and night. Her children are now in their 30's and neither of them have a relationship with her. She is the kindest, sweetest, most caring person that I know and would do anything for her kids. There just was so much dysfunction during their formative years, and so much damage was done that they just don't want a relationship with her.

Now, I am not saying that this situation can never work out. Our daughter and her husband lived with us for the first three years of their marriage, and it was wonderful. But, my daughter did not want to raise her kids in the same house as her parents, and they bought their own home. I had to respect that. I think she was influenced by seeing what happened with my sister and her family.

Unless your fiancee and your mother have very, very similar temperaments and are in close proximity in their thinking on raising children, this could be unbelievably difficult for your fiancee.

I love that you want to take care of your parents, and I'm sure your fiancee admires that quality in you. But, not having children yet, you just cannot realize what awaits. None of us can until we are in the midst of it.

I realize that your plan calls for your parents to live detached physically from you. Depending on how active they are for their age, do you envision them keeping almost entirely to their own dwelling? Or do you see them "popping" over regularly? My husband and I are nearly 70, and we would both go stir crazy in 500 feet and would be looking to "spread" out, I believe.

Forgive me if I have made too many assumptions. I just want you and your fiancée (and your parents) to have the best chance for happiness in the future.
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celia
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by celia »

It is not clear to me if this “addition” will be attached or detached from the current house. I would try to make it both, by having an interior door between both parts as well as a separate exterior door for the new section.

I say this because you and your wife should look ahead to after your parents are gone (having gone to a nursing home or died). At that time your assumed future kids might be teenagers and your immediate family might need the space. Or, the parents could have cognitive decline and you might need to check on them every hour.

And by maintaining this flexibility, you might be able to accommodate your wife’s parents if needed. Or the interior door could be locked on both sides allowing for a rental or AirBnB.
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alil
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

It is not clear to me if this “addition” will be attached or detached from the current house. I would try to make it both, by having an interior door between both parts as well as a separate exterior door for the new section.

I say this because you and your wife should look ahead to after your parents are gone (having gone to a nursing home or died). At that time your assumed future kids might be teenagers and your immediate family might need the space. Or, the parents could have cognitive decline and you might need to check on them every hour.

And by maintaining this flexibility, you might be able to accommodate your wife’s parents if needed. Or the interior door could be locked on both sides allowing for a rental or AirBnB.
Thanks for your input.

Good point, we have discussed this, unfortunately because of the layout of he house and the location of the house on the lot/setbacks restrictions the detached unit would work best.
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alil
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by alil »

Hello,

I am a long-time lurker, but I had to register to respond to your post.

I cannot address the building/permit/financial logistics of your plan.

I would like to address the personal ones though. My sister and her husband raised their two children in a house that was divided into two parts, one for her family, one for our parents. IT WAS HARD, VERY VERY HARD. It might have been easier if she had not had children, but she was never able to feel she had any agency in her child rearing. She was watched over and criticized day and night. Her children are now in their 30's and neither of them have a relationship with her. She is the kindest, sweetest, most caring person that I know and would do anything for her kids. There just was so much dysfunction during their formative years, and so much damage was done that they just don't want a relationship with her.

Now, I am not saying that this situation can never work out. Our daughter and her husband lived with us for the first three years of their marriage, and it was wonderful. But, my daughter did not want to raise her kids in the same house as her parents, and they bought their own home. I had to respect that. I think she was influenced by seeing what happened with my sister and her family.

Unless your fiancee and your mother have very, very similar temperaments and are in close proximity in their thinking on raising children, this could be unbelievably difficult for your fiancee.

I love that you want to take care of your parents, and I'm sure your fiancee admires that quality in you. But, not having children yet, you just cannot realize what awaits. None of us can until we are in the midst of it.

I realize that your plan calls for your parents to live detached physically from you. Depending on how active they are for their age, do you envision them keeping almost entirely to their own dwelling? Or do you see them "popping" over regularly? My husband and I are nearly 70, and we would both go stir crazy in 500 feet and would be looking to "spread" out, I believe.

Forgive me if I have made too many assumptions. I just want you and your fiancée (and your parents) to have the best chance for happiness in the future.
I truly appreciate you sharing your sister's experience and being candid. I realize it's not an ideal situation, but hope things can work out. 500 sq is plenty of space for my parents.
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JoeRetire
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by JoeRetire »

alil wrote: Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:47 pm Anything I should be considering or doing before proceeding?
- Is your future spouse on board with your plan?
- Are your parents fully on board? With living there? And with living in such a small space?
- How extensively have you shopped the project to get the best price?
- Did you discuss this with a good local real estate agent to find out what it will do to the value of your property?
- How long do you expect to live in this house?
- What about the rest of your financial assets? Can you tolerate the permanent loss of $100k now?
It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | It's the end of the world as we know it. | And I feel fine.
TN_Boy
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by TN_Boy »

alil wrote: Sat Feb 29, 2020 10:47 pm I come to this forum for guidance every time I have to make a major decision, and have avoided some mistakes in the past by following the wisdom of this forum. Thank you to all that share their knowledge and experience.

Briefly, I bought a house in a neighborhood with no HOA in North Carolina. I am engaged, will get married in May and hoping to start a family. I would like to build an in law suite for my parents who are in the their late 70's. A recent post on this form made me realize there may be risks related to building I am not even considering that can make my life complicated in the future.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=304224

The zoning department of the town I live in assured me that they permit detached dwellings based of the surface of my lot. I found a general contractor who has built attachments in this town and we liked his work. The estimated price is ~ 90K for a 500 sf suite, estimated time to completion is 6 months. I have 100K in a money market fund tagged for this project.

Anything I should be considering or doing before proceeding? The meeting with the contractor in order to sign the contractor is next week.
I am a bit worried about the uncertainty related to the Corona Virus but don't want to put my life on hold...
So, I don't have any zoning wisdom; but with no HOA and approval from the zoning department I think you'd be fine legally. Here are things that come to my mind about this plan:

1) Are your neighbors likely to be annoyed by the addition? With no HOA, they probably can't do much about it, but, is there any reason they might not like the addition?

2) Why exactly are you building the addition? The parents cannot financially support themselves? The parents need elder care? You want them around for babysitting? As other have noted, 500 square feet is not a lot. You do want everything handicap accessible, grab bars in the bathroom, raised toilets, etc etc. Will it have a full kitchen so they can prepare meals without being in the main house?

3) What will you do with the addition if (when) the parents are no longer there? Is it a 100k structure sitting empty and now useless?

4) As others have noted, even if you plan is to take care of your parents when they need help, you might not be able to provide that help (e.g. dementia requiring 24x7 monitoring). Where is the money coming from to help them? (That 100k being spent to build the addition would pay for some help, though not all that much for all that long).

5) Are you okay being tied to this house? What if you and/or spouse lose your job? Moving might be required to maintain income (or a reasonable commute). My point of course, is that by tying your parent's living quarters to your living quarters, you lose all flexibility around where you live.

6) Same question as 5) about kids and such .... the house is big enough to support the family you envision? With parents sitting there a lot.

7) If they drive, I assume there is space for their car(s)? If not, do you need to widen the driveway, etc

I think elder care is ..... really awful frankly. If that's the main reason for the move, I'd try to come up with a another plan to make sure the parents are okay without damaging your life too much. Are you sure your spouse is aware of the impact of elder care for your parents? If you (or her) haven't been around these situations, you don't know how difficult they can be.
pmr2017
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by pmr2017 »

What type of entrance is this going to have? A door off say the family room? I ask because this can make a difference. Growing up, one of my good friends had his grandma living in an in-law suite his parents built in the basement. They have an attached 2 car garage under their family room (a colonial style house), so you would pull you car in, enter the house through the basement and walk upstairs to the main living area. There was a door in the basement to enter the in-law. For them it was nice because she was there, but not really there if that makes sense. She could easily enter the apartment without ever stepping foot into the house and that gave some nice separation. She'd op then garage and walk right into her apartment and not have to see or intrude on the family. When they went to sell their house years later, the fact that they had a full in-law suite (which could double as a nanny apartment) led to a bidding war. This may not always be the case but it also might be viewed as a key feature.

No one here can really grasp your family dynamic, what your parents are like and what you fiance's feeling are. This is anecdotal, but a co-worker's husband is a general contractor and in the last decade he's seen a big spike in people wanting to do just what you are; build an addition, or finish a basement for parents can have a place to live.
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cheese_breath
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by cheese_breath »

Do you plan to do something similar for spouse's parents, or will they have to fend for themselves?
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cheese_breath
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by cheese_breath »

Not knowing anything about your neighborhood, zoning restrictions, etc. makes it tough to suggest other alternatives, but I'll throw this one out anway. Are mobile homes on a permanent foundation permitted? You could get a really nice one for $100K and have it in place a lot sooner that a new construction.
The surest way to know the future is when it becomes the past.
over45
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Re: In-law suite plan

Post by over45 »

add 10% to the estimate to build.

how big is your lot? do they have a car? can you get your $$ back upon resale for the cost of the project? what will this do to your tax bill? assume you are on town services otherwise there is the septic bedroom issue to consider. best in-law situation I have ever come across is behind a detached garage with private entrance.
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