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If you’re looking to make an addition to your house, whether it’s an in-law suite or guest house, there are many things you should first consider. First and foremost, you’ll want to obtain the correct permits to build and make sure you have the space to accommodate your vision. Beyond that, consider these things:

Will the main house be connected?
In legal terms, if you wish to create an in-law suite, it must have its own separate entrance, living space, bathroom, and kitchen. This does not prohibit having a direct connection between the two homes. Keep in mind the design of your addition. A seamless flow is important to comfortability and safety for all tenets.

Do you foresee any mobility restrictions?
If you have specific tenets in mind for your addition, are they wheelchair bound and will need a ramp? Or are they higher in age and may need to live on only one floor? Even without having specific tenets in mind, this is something to consider at the start of your project to make sure you’re making all the right accommodations. Some additional items to consider adding are grab bars in the bathrooms, slip-resistant floors, and low counters.

Are there specific zoning requirements?
The municipality your project will take place in is what will determine the zoning requirements. Often, the most troublesome restrictions people run into are lots that are zoned for residential use may prohibit secondary dwellings. Check with the city’s permitting office before beginning your work. There are instances that have what you may consider loopholes. For example, if you’re restricted from building a separate kitchen area, you can stick to appliances that are smaller, such as a mini fridge, a coffee maker, and a microwave.

Does your design allow for privacy?
Whether the addition is attached to the main building, or it’s sitting apart from it, it’s good to keep in mind privacy features for your tenets. This can include blinds or blackout curtains on all of the windows, as well as soundproofing walls. If the tenets of either dwelling have kids or pets, you’ll want to consider the soundproofing aspect heavily!

Once you’ve squared away all of these items, you can move on to the more “fun” considerations when creating a new living space like paint colors, decor, and furniture.