Additions: Building a Separate Dwelling Unit

Addition in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. A full, room that is seamless from the original home. 

Addition in Bryan / College Station, by Stearns Design Build. A full, room that is seamless from the original home. 

Additions that include an entire, but modest, living unit are becoming more popular and necessary in today's family homes. They are essentially like an apartment flat or mini-house, and include a living area, a small kitchen, a bedroom, & a bathroom. Reasons for creating this space include a need for an in-law suite for older parents who want to be near family, a desire for a guest suite for visiting friends, family or perhaps for adult children who have moved back home, or a wish for potential income as a rental unit.

This kind of addition can utilize underused space such as a garage, expand on existing space within your home, or be a completely new structure. To ensure your addition is a usable and enjoyable space, here are some key things to keep in mind.

  • Keep it private:
    • Your addition should have a separate entrance, even if you want another entrance connected to the rest of your home. This entrance allows the occupant to feel independent, an especially important aspect if he or she is an aging parents or adult child.
    • Having a separate outdoor space creates privacy and allows a nice place for window views. This outdoor area can even be integrated with the unit’s separate entrance.
    • Sound-proofing is another important part of privacy which improves the livability of your addition and existing home.
  • Tailor the space:
    • An additional dwelling space isn’t a call for excess, but of well-thought compact design.
    •  Creating a modest unit can include an open kitchen/living area that will prevent a closed-in feeling for the overall space, even with a private bedroom and bath.
    • Focus on thoroughly using space in the unit with room dividing bookshelves or multifunctional pieces of furniture. Take time to think about what really needs to be included in each room for function and comfort, so that room sizes can be designed appropriately.
  • Make it accessible:
    • Designing a unit that takes into account the potential for limited mobility is a great way to keep the addition functional for all users. Some characteristics of such a space include smooth thresholds, wider doorways and hallways, and easy to operate door handles, easy to reach kitchen/bathroom fixtures.
    • Keeping your addition on the ground floor allows for accessible entry. Ramps can create easy access for elevated additions, but you'll need to identify the space requirements for the ramp to decide if this is a viable option.
    • For a few accessible bathroom ideas, check out ourtwo-part blog.

We hope this post has helped you realize that additions are a great way of customizing your home to fit your needs. They can be as house-changing as creating a separate, new living unit or as small as adding on a few extra square-feet to better arrange interior spaces.

Have more questions about your idea for an addition? Don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss your project! And of course, keep reading our blogs for more information.