How To Design and Build An In-Law Suite ADU

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Your parents took care of you as a child, but they may need extra help to stay independent when they get older. You’ll be happy to have them close by, but you want to have space still and give them their area to live in. If you have the space in your home, you may want to consider building an in-law suite ADU (Accessory Dwelling Unit) for them.

An Accessory Dwelling Unit is a small, secondary dwelling on the same property as a primary dwelling. An Accessory Dwelling Unit can be attached or detached from the main house. Accessory Dwelling Units can be a great way to keep in-laws close by and house family members with a little more space. 

In this blog post, we’ll discuss how to design and build an in-law suite ADU that will be the perfect family room for your parents. We’ll also give you tips on making the ADU design and construction process as easy as possible for both you and your parents.

Choosing The Right Location For An In-Law Suite ADU

Adding an in-law suite ADU is a big decision that will have lasting implications for your home, whether you are adding it to accommodate extended family members or as a rental space for some additional income. So, what should you consider when determining where to add this new ADU to your home?

The first step is to determine the size of the ADU suite. Will it be a one-bedroom unit or a spacious two-bedroom with more space? Remember that you’ll need to provide adequate privacy for your guests, so plan accordingly. Check out this price guide if you’re wondering how much home additions typically cost in Arundel County, MD.

Once you’ve decided on the size of the ADU suite, you’ll need to choose the location. The ideal spot for an ADU in-law suite is on the ground floor, close to amenities like a kitchen or laundry room but still separate from the main living area.

If you’re building a detached ADU, you’ll have more flexibility in terms of placement. Detached ADUs are often built within a carriage house or detached garage.

Keep in mind that an in-law suite ADU should include a bedroom, bathroom, and kitchenette (at a minimum). You may also want to consider adding a dining room if you have the space.

Once you have a good sense of the space you’re working with, you can start thinking about features, like making it handicap-accessible. If your lot size allows, you might also consider adding a separate entrance for added privacy to your ADU.

Accessibility For Family

A view of a concrete ramp with a black railing curving up to a house.

Adding an in-law suite ADU to your home is a great way to provide extra space and privacy for family members while still allowing them to be close by. However, it’s crucial to consider accessibility when planning Accessory Dwelling Units.

If you have family members with mobility issues, you’ll need to ensure that the ADU suite is designed with their needs in mind. Creating for mobility issues means choosing a location on the ground floor, if possible, and including accessibility features such as wide doorways, ramps, and grab bars. By planning ahead, you can ensure that your in-law suite addition is both functional and inviting.

Also, consider the room’s layout and whether there will be enough space for a wheelchair or walker. You’ll also want to ensure there are no steps leading into the room and that all doorways are wide enough to accommodate a wheelchair or walker. By planning ahead, you can ensure that your in-law suite addition is both functional and inviting.

How To Design An In-Law Suite ADU

Now that you’ve decided on a location and considered accessibility issues, it’s time to design your ADU. You should start by thinking about the living space layout and then the type of amenities you want to include. With careful planning, it is possible to create a comfortable and inviting living space that meets the needs of both the elderly parent and the adult child.


One of the first things to consider is the layout of the ADU’s space. An in-law suite ADU should ideally have a separate entrance so the occupants can come and go as they please. The ADU should also have a bedroom, a bathroom, and a kitchenette or wet bar. If possible, try to include a living space as well. Living space in an ADU will give the occupants a place to relax and socialize.


When it comes to furnishings, comfort should be a top priority. Look for furniture that is easy to get in and out of, and make sure there is plenty of storage space for clothes and personal belongings. If the in-law suite ADU is shared by multiple people, consider investing in a sleeper sofa or futon. A sleeper sofa or futon will give each person their own sleeping space without taking up too much room.


Finally, don’t forget the little touches that can make a big difference. Throw blankets, paned window treatments, and fresh flowers can all help to create a welcoming environment. With an intentional design, it is possible to create an in-law suite ADU that is both functional and inviting.

Building An In-Law Suite ADU

An attached home addition under construction with wood framing visible.

Once you’ve determined the location and design of your in-law suite ADU, it’s time to start building. If your home is large enough, you may be able to convert an existing room, such as a basement or spare bedroom. If not, you’ll need to add on to your current home. With that said, here are the key steps to take when building your in-law suite ADU:

  1. Check the zoning regulations in your area. Checking local zoning laws will be an essential first step if you make this suite an addition. In many municipalities, you’ll need a special permit to build an accessory dwelling unit (ADU).
  2. Draw up a floor plan. Keep in mind the needs of your future occupants when designing the layout. For example, if you’re planning to house an elderly parent, make sure there is space for a wheelchair or walker.
  3. Choose a location for the suite. If you’re building an attached ADU, it will need to be located next to the primary dwelling on the first floor. Putting an attached ADU on the first floor will minimize the disruption to your daily life and make it easy for your guests to come and go as they please. However, if you’re converting an existing space, like a basement or attic, you’ll need to ensure enough headroom and that all utilities are in place.
  4. Obtain the necessary permits. Besides a zoning permit, you may also need a building permit or a plumbing permit, depending on the scope of work.
  5. Once you have obtained the permits, you can begin construction. The first step is to lay the foundation. The foundation is typically a concrete slab or basement. Next, you will frame the walls and ceiling. Once the framing is in place, you can add drywall and finish the interior. Finally, you will install doors and windows and add any final touches. Unless you’re an experienced builder, it’s best to leave the construction work to professionals, so hiring a professional contractor will be necessary.

Tips For Decorating An In-Law Suite ADU

A living space with a white couch and two easy chairs.

It’s not always easy to blend two households into one, but an in-law suite ADU can be a great way to provide privacy and comfort for everyone involved. If you’re planning on decorating an in-law suite, there are a few things to keep in mind.

It’s good to create a space that feels both welcoming and private. You can achieve this by using colors and fabrics that create a warm, inviting atmosphere.

Next, consider the needs of your guests. What kind of privacy do they need? What kind of amenities will make them feel at home? If your guests are elderly, make sure to furnish the living space appropriately.

Once you’ve established what your guests need, you can start considering the ADU interior design. One thing to keep in mind is that an in-law suite ADU should complement your home’s existing décor. You’ll also want to ensure that there’s plenty of storage space for your guests’ belongings.

Contact Brucksch and Sons

If you’re considering building an in-law suite ADU or even just renovating your home to add more living space, Brucksch and Sons are here to make that a reality. We have the experience and expertise necessary to bring your ideas to life, whether they involve a complete construction project for an Accessory Dwelling Unit or just adding a few finishing touches.

Just fill out our contact form here. Our team is looking forward to working with you!