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What Is An In-Law Suite? A Smart Feature

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By: Robin Shreeves

What is an in-law suite? It's the most common name for a small dwelling on the same property as (and perhaps attached to) a single-family home, where an aging family member (or others) can live with some modicum of privacy and independence. It's often a separate space with its own bathroom, sometimes in a basement or over a garage.

In-law suites are also referred to as accessory dwelling units, multigenerational units, secondary suites, or granny flats. In Hawaii, they're known as ohana units. In the Southwest, they're frequently called casitas.

No matter what the name, they're a desirable feature in a home that comes in handy in many ways well beyond providing a place for mom alone. Here's everything homeowners need to know.

What is an in-law suite?

The traditional in-law suite can be either connected to the main dwelling of the home (perhaps in the basement), or an external, separate structure, like a small cottage on the property or a converted garage. Minimally, an in-law suite has a bedroom and full bathroom. It can also come with additional rooms, such as a sitting room or a small kitchen.

Alternate uses for separate suites

When not in use by an aging parent, an in-law suite can serve many purposes, making it a wise investment. Here are some uses to consider:

    Home office: "More and more buyers are looking for a place to work from home," says Mike Dinella, broker salesperson with Lenny, Vermaat & Leonard Inc., Realtors® in Haddonfield, NJ. "So this area could be the perfect spot for your small business."
    Guest quarters: When out-of-town guests come to visit, an in-law suite is the perfect place to give them a little privacy, with their own bedroom and bathroom.
    Residence for an older child: Adult children who may need to live at home while establishing themselves financially can use the space as an apartment, perhaps even paying a little rent.
    Short- of long-term rental apartment: Since many in-law suites are fully equipped apartments, they make ideal rental apartments, which can bring in added income from long-term renters or short-term rentals on Airbnb.

What's the cost of an in-law apartment?

The cost to add this amenity to your home varies widely, depending on the size, details, and whether it will be an addition to an existing home or a stand-alone structure. When adding an in-law suite to an existing home, expect to spend an average of $32,700 to $63,000. If you're building a new structure, it can cost as much as $125,000.

In-law apartments as a sales feature

Thanks to their versatility, in-law suites are an attractive feature to look for when buying a home—or to play up in your home if you're selling.

"A mother-in-law space, or even the potential for one, can make your home more desirable to buyers," says Dinella. "With multigenerational living on the rise, buyers are frustrated that they can’t find a home that meets their needs. There are limited choices, so they start looking at homes that can be easily modified into a residence with a mother-in-law apartment. If I have a listing with a first-floor bedroom and full bath, I’ve been advertising it as a 'potential multi-generational suite.' It creates a lot more buyer traffic."

The best advice Dinella has for homeowners who feel the need to add a space for aging in place to their existing home is to configure it with an open floor plan.

"An open floor plan has versatile uses after the fact. It's easier for buyers to envision the space as something else if they don't need to use it for its original intention," he says.

Are in-law suites legal?

Local ordinances vary when it comes to the amenities of an in-law suite and its use. To find the laws specific to your property, go to the zoning office with your lot and block number, to find out if having such a suite on your property is permitted.

If zoning laws do not allow an in-law apartment, it may be possible to get a variance.

"You may have to send out certified letters to the neighbors and get their signatures," says Dinella. "The cost of a variance could run up to $500."

You will also need to obtain building permits. Even then, there may still be limitations on what the suite can include or how it may be used. Some zoning laws do not allow full kitchens, because of the risk of stove fires. Some laws do not allow such suites to be rented out if they are no longer being used for an older relative.

Bottom line: Know the local laws before investing in a home with this amenity, if you are hoping that it may become a money maker.

Despite a few negatives, homeowners find the pros outweigh the cons, and that in-law suites are a smart investment both while they are living in the home and when they go to sell.

Photo by Emil Widlund on Unsplash

Home Security Tips You Should Already be Doing

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By Rachel Stevens

By the time you read this paragraph, another preventable break in will occur in the United States. Every 18 seconds, adding up to 200 an hour, home invaders successfully strike. Home security shouldn’t have to cost thousands of dollars with complicated devices. There are simple steps you can take to improve home security and peace of mind before leaving your home.  

Lock your door and windows  

This seems like an obvious tip, but 30 percent of burglars report breaking into a home through an unlocked window or door. Life gets busy and we rush to work, school, and activities. Take a few minutes before you leave to check the doors and recently opened windows on the first level. If you believe you’ll forget to, stick a note on your door to remind yourself before stepping out.  

Get a dog 

If you’ve always wanted a dog, here’s your excuse. Properly trained dogs are effective at deterring a burglar. Barking loudly will panic the intruder that they may bite or alert someone of their presence.  

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Photo by Ralph Kayden on Unsplash

Maintenance Must Dos

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

The Best Home Improvement Ideas From the Internet

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

By Carter Todd

What better way to start off the new year than by making some practical adjustments to your home? The slightest attention to detail can make every bit of difference, from your daily routine to impressing your visitors.

Use a sink filter

Installing a filter for your tap water is a great investment for your kitchen. Not only is it something you can do yourself, it will pay dividends in the long run. An under-sink filter is one of the only ways to guarantee clean and pure drinking water. With filtered sink water, you’ll be able to fill up your reusable water bottles right from the tap and won’t need to buy any more disposable plastic water bottles.

 

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Photo by Milan Popovic on Unsplash

 

Don’t Fall Short! 6 Home Maintenance Tasks You Should Tackle This Autumn!

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Autumn brings pumpkins and—love 'em or hate 'em—pumpkin spice lattes, sweater weather, and spooky skeletons. But most importantly, fall brings an end to a summer of outdoor adventures—and tedious yard tasks like weeding, mowing, and watering the lawn.

But just because the weather's cooling off doesn't mean your to-do list will, too. Before busting out the cinnamon spice and mulled wine, take on a few home maintenance tasks that will put you in good standing once temperatures dip.

"It's easier to prepare for a winter emergency in the fall," says Jericho McClellan, who works in construction management.

But fear not: We've got you covered with our checklist of home maintenance chores to tackle this season. Read on for details about where to start, and whom to call if you need backup.

1. Properly store your yard equipment

One of the best parts about fall: You can usually put your lawn mower into hibernation mode until spring.

But before you forget about that pesky piece of machinery entirely, remember this: Spring will suck if you don't prep your equipment this fall. That's because gasoline reacts with the air in the tank if left long enough, causing oxidation, which creates small deposits that can affect the performance of your mower.

And it's not just gas-powered equipment that needs a fall refresh.

Lester Poole, Lowe's live-nursery specialist, recommends running pressurized air through your pressure washers to remove any remaining water in the system, which will prevent freeze damage to the pumping mechanisms.

If your winter is particularly snowy and gritty, you'll be glad to have your pressure washer on high alert.

DIY: This project is easy to do yourself—just get rid of any spare gasoline. Many cities and counties have hazardous-waste programs, or your local auto parts store might take the old gas for you, too.

2. Protect your pipes

When temps dip below freezing, unprotected pipes can burst from exposure. Guard against burst pipes by wrapping them in foam insulation, closing foundation vents (more on that below), and opening cabinet doors under sinks to allow warm air to flow around supply lines. And make sure to keep your thermostat at 60 degrees or higher overnight.

If you haven't tracked down your home's water shut-offs yet, now's the time. They might be located outside your house or in your crawl space. Once you've found them, give them a test.

"The winter is not a fun time to try to figure that out, especially should a pipe burst," McClellan says. (More on that, too, in a minute.)

Now's also a good time to drain all of your exterior water hoses to prevent an icy emergency.

DIY: If your pipes do freeze, leave the affected faucets on and turn off your water supply, says Jenny Popis, a Lowe's Home Improvement spokeswoman. Then locate the freeze point by feeling the length of frozen pipes to determine which area is coldest. You can attempt to thaw it by wrapping the frozen section in washcloths soaked in hot water—then thaw until you have full water pressure.

Call in the pros: If you can't locate the freeze point or your pipes have burst, call in a licensed plumber, which will run $150 to $600 on average (depending on the severity of the leak).

3. Clear out your crawl space

While you're winterizing your pipes, peek around your crawl space. Is your HVAC system blocked by boxes of 50-year-old Mason jars? Can you get to any leaking pipes quickly?

DIY: While it's still warm, clear out any debris from your crawl space to ensure clear passage when winter's worst happens.

Call in the pros: Creeped out by the idea of crawling around under your house? Professional crawl space cleaners charge about $500 to $4,500, depending on the size of your house and the state of the space.

4. Close your crawl space vents

During your crawl space expedition, this is a must-do: Close the vents that circle your home's perimeter.

"The vents were placed there for a functional reason, not just aesthetics," says real estate agent, broker, and construction expert Ron Humes. "The problem is that most homeowners have no idea why they are there."

Here's why: In warm, wet seasons, crawl space vents allow airflow, which prevents moisture buildup. But if you leave them open during cold, dry weather, that chilly air will cool down your floorboards—making mornings uncomfortable.

DIY: "When the temperatures drop, slide those crawl space vents closed," Humes says. "Just remember to open them again in the spring."

If one of your vents is broken, replacements range from $20 to $50.

Call in the pros: If your crawl space stays damp through the fall and winter, you might want to consider waterproofing, dehumidifying, and sealing off your crawl space to prevent wet air. This can cost $1,500 to $15,000.

5. Kick-start your composting efforts                

Now's the perfect time, with all those leaves and dead plants, to start a compost pile. You don't even need a fancy compost spinner; sectioning off a corner of your yard is enough.

"Put yard waste to work by piling green leaves and clippings into a pile near your garden," Poole says. Next, layer with brown materials such as soil, dead leaves, and coffee grounds. Next up: kitchen scraps.

"Through the season, turn your mound using a pitchfork to expose oxygen to all ingredients and use it in the spring for fertilizer," Poole says.

Next year's tomatoes will thank you.

DIY: If your yard lacks space for a compost corner—or you have no interest in regular pitchforking—consider a tumbling composter. This well-reviewed model from Amazon costs about $100.

6. Protect your trees

Not all species of trees are winter-hardy—especially thin-barked ones like beech, aspens, or cherry trees. For these varietals, "sun-warmed sap quickly freezes at night and causes bark to split," Poole says.

He recommends wrapping your tree trunks with paper tree wrap, covering the entire bark from an inch above the soil to the lowest branches. Adhere the wrapping to the tree using duct tape to keep your trees in tiptop condition.

DIY: You can find 150 feet of paper tree wrap on Amazon for $18, although you may need a few rolls depending on how many trees need winter protection.

Call in the pros: Are your trees already looking the worse for wear? A tree service can help you sort out what's wrong. Pruning costs anywhere from $75 to $1,000.

 

Photo by Chris Lawton on Unsplash.com

No Place Like Home

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Breaking Down The Break In

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Design Dilemmas

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Smart Home Hacked

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Popular Projects

by Kathy and Michael Rain - The Rain Team

Displaying blog entries 1-10 of 35

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The Rain Team
CA# 01169588 | CA# 01125976 | CA# 01908304
248 Main Street, Suite 200
Half Moon Bay CA 94019
Michael: 650-888-6361
Kathy: 650-888-6903
Fax: 866-396-0207

Kathy and Michael Rain of Coldwell Banker provides real estate services in the San Mateo County, California area including the surrounding communities: El Granda, Half Moon Bay, Montara, Moss Beach, Pacifica and San Mateo. Search for homes in San Mateo County. We list and sell residential real estate, investment properties, vacant land, lots for sale in the San Mateo County, California area.

Licensed in the State of California

Kathy Rain - CA BRE# 01169588 | Michael Rain - CA BRE# 01125976 | Coldwell Banker - CA BRE# 01908304  

Email: therainteam@coastal-realestate.com
Cell Phone: (650) 888-6903 * Direct Phone: (650) 712-0411
San Mateo County Real Estate and Homes for Sale

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