More and more families are concerned about aging relatives. Indeed, according to the National Council on Aging, a quarter of the American population over the age of 65 falls each year. Falls are an increasingly common occurrence, especially in old age as seniors can struggle with visual impairments, muscle weakness, and strong medications which can cause dozing. Unfortunately, elderly adults can seriously injure themselves in the process. Every 11 seconds, a senior is treated in the ER as a result of a fall. But, more dramatically, every 19 minutes, an older adult dies following a fall. Building a granny flat on your property can help your aging relatives live safer while staying somewhat independent.
How can a fall become a life-threatening risk in your everyday home? Many factors contribute to their danger. First of all, when your elderly relative lives alone, several days can go by before someone notices the fall and comes to their rescue. Additionally, muscle weakness can increase the risk of falling down the stairs, which can have devastating consequences on an unfit body. Furthermore, with brittle bones, which is an unfortunate result of old age, fractures and breaks are amplified, which can lead to health complications.
As a result, it’s not uncommon for families to consider the addition of an accessory dwelling unit – ADU – on their property to provide their elderly relatives with a safe tiny home. Granny flats are not only hugely popular and practical, but they can also bring estranged families together. After all, when the kids can spend every day with their grandparents, you don’t have to worry about planning family visits. Besides, inviting your relatives to stay with you can also make your property safer. Indeed, when there’s always someone at home, the risk of burglary during the day is virtually non-existent. However, if you’re going to build a tiny home by your house, you need to make sure you understand all the implications of an ADU.
You can’t rely on DIY only
You might be handy with a few tools, but building a tiny home should be a task you entrust to professionals. Indeed, your granny flat needs to meet the building health and safety standards, which is unlikely to occur if you choose a DIY approach. Specific repair and improvement works should be left to certified technicians and builders. The typical granny flat is self-contained, which means that you need to install a plumbing system for the bathroom and the kitchen units. Any mistake could have devastating consequences on your budget and safety! Similarly, electrical wiring is another job you should plan with a qualified electrician. If the granny flat is part of a conversion, such as transforming the garage into a home, you are unlikely to need structural works. However, if you’re building from scratch professional structural additions and roofing work will be necessary.
You need to be clear about housing laws
A tiny home is a cost-saving housing alternative for your elderly relatives. Indeed, downsizing can not only save a lot of money but also a lot of stress in their day-to-day lives. However, don’t let the charming size of a small dwelling fool you. There are plenty of strict laws regulating tiny homes building and living, which you need to comply with. Indeed, if you’re building in your backyard, you may not need to worry about zoning regulations as the granny flat is already located in a residential area. However, you should ensure that your architecture remains compliant with the International Residential Code and the Building Code requirements. Additionally, state laws vary dramatically. It’s a good idea to discuss your local requirements with an architect before taking any decision.
You can forget about stress-free life
Christmas holiday can be a stressful season for many adults who structure to survive family reunions. Indeed, spending time with your relatives can be a source of anxiety and unhappiness. More often than not, the problems you might experience with your family stem from not being acknowledged and respected for the person you are. As a result, many adults find their parents treating them in the same way they used to when they were younger. While you have long outgrown the label of a child, your relatives are stuck in that parenting role. It can take a lot of time and effort to break free of those family roles. Consequently, it’s not uncommon to experience anger, frustration, and emotional distress when you’re spending extended time with your relatives. Now imagine inviting your mother to stay with you forever. Can you genuinely see past her critical words or her overbearing motherly attention? If you haven’t managed to make family holiday stress-free, it’s fair to say that you may not be ready for a granny flat.
Who is in charge of decorating the granny flat?
You’re building the annex for your relative. Of course, it should make sense that you stay in charge of its interior decor. However, you may want to discover arrangements with your guests first. After all, a tiny home would force your relatives to downsize their lifestyle dramatically. There will be memories they simply can’t live without. Knowing what sentimental units, items, and photos they want to keep can influence the overall decor. More importantly, you also need to clarify together what their requirements are in terms of living space. Indeed, wheelchair users, for instance, will require storage units to be in accessible locations in the lower half of the room. On the other hand, someone who is still mobile and active might want to maintain their tiny home themselves, which implies the addition of a cleaning cupboard with brooms and a vacuum cleaner.
Can you care for your elderly relative in a granny flat?
Inviting your parents to live in a tiny home on your property is not a light decision. You have to be ready to potentially assume the role of carers as the health of your parents degenerates. Caring for an elderly relative is not only a matter of knowledge; it is also a difficult emotional journey. Indeed, your roles have changed, and now they depend on you, you have to let go off old emotions to build a new script for your relationship. The hero of your childhood, the mom or dad you look upon, is long gone. While it doesn’t mean you can’t build a meaningful relationship with your aging parent, you have to accept their weakness, their anger, and their fears.
Is independence a good idea?
The primary reason why granny flats are a popular option for elderly relatives is that granny doesn’t want to lose her independence. Indeed, growing old is an unpleasant process during which one wants to maintain their dignity and sense of freedom for as long as possible. For seniors, maintaining their independent lifestyle is detrimental to their physical and mental health. A tiny home can give them the boost they need to care for themselves and be their own person without the dangers of isolation. However, it’s fair to say that not everyone grows old at the same pace. Tiny homes are the perfect solution for older relatives who have maintained their cognitive agility and mobility. On the other hand, someone who is prone to confusion and physical weakness might be safer in a nursing center.
Building a tiny home in your backyard can be the perfect way of supporting your relatives through old age while giving them the independence they want. However inviting your parents to stay with you, even if it is in a granny flat on the property, needs specific living rules. Are you going to share meals together? Should granny have her own washing machine or will you do her laundry? There is no right or wrong answer, but you need to clarify from the start how to manage day-to-day tasks to avoid frustrations or high expectations.