The U.S. Census Bureau has reported a boom in the senior population. As boomers age, the over-65 population has increased by over a third since 2010—more than any other age group. But where the Census Bureau shares the statistics behind the demographic change, for people, the trend looks less like a number and more like mom and dad (or mother-in-law and father-in-law).
One unfortunate reality behind the numbers is that aging brings health issues that make it unsafe for many seniors to continue living on their own in their later years. But the resolution to that issue isn’t always unfortunate. Often the best choice is to move your loved one into your household in a space built for the purpose, popularly called an in-law suite.
And for many families in North Carolina, the best option for accomplishing that is right underneath your feet.
6 Reasons to Make Your Basement an In-Law Suite
By making an investment in finishing your basement, you can create the perfect in-law suite for your loved ones as they age. It’s a smart move for a few main reasons.
1. It gives you a practical way to keep loved ones close.
The best way to make sure a senior loved one is safe and cared for is to move them close enough where you can care for them yourself. But that’s a challenge if you don’t have the space. You don’t want to cram them into a living room, or thrust your family into a situation where far too many people share one bathroom (that doesn’t bode well for anyone).
If you have a basement, then you have plenty of room for them to have their own space without inconveniencing anyone else in the house. You just need to make the space you already have liveable.
2. You and your loved one will be able to maintain independence.
You may love your parents or in-laws, but that doesn’t always translate to wanting to see them day in and day out and face all the petty squabbles that can arise when living together. A finished basement combines the best of both worlds: your loved one will be close enough to keep an eye on in case of emergency, but have their own living space, so you can stay out of each other’s way when you want to.
3. It can save you money on assisted living.
The main alternative to moving a senior loved one in with you is moving them to assisted living. And while the cost of finishing your basement may seem like a lot upfront, the average cost of assisted living in North Carolina is $3,800 a month and going up every year. Spending the money now to finish your basement can potentially save you tens of thousands down the line.
4. It costs less than building a home addition.
Speaking of saving money, if you already know for sure you want an in-law suite, finishing your basement will cost less than adding an addition to your home. The structure of the basement is already in place, so you don’t have to build it from scratch. That means fewer materials and less labor. While there are plenty of situations where a home addition is well worth it, for homes with an unfinished basement, starting there makes more financial sense.
5. It increases the resale value of your home.
Adding a whole new living area to your home means that when the time comes to sell, the house will be worth a lot more. Even if you’re not intending to sell for a long time, it never hurts to consider how to make (and keep) your house more valuable for down the line.
6. In the long term, you’ll never regret having an extra living space.
Moving your parents into your home so you can help care for them may well add a number of years to their life. But if down the line they do move to a facility or pass away, the finished basement will still be useful to you. It can become a guest room for when friends and family visit, a space for your adult kids to stay when in moments of transition, or a way to generate income by renting it out.
5 Tips to Make Sure You Do It Right
If you’re sold on the idea of finishing your basement to convert it to an in-law suite, you should make sure you do the job right.
1. Get started before you need it.
Finishing a basement takes time. You want the completed space to be there and waiting for the moment your loved one needs somewhere to move. If you wait to start on the project until they’re already needing to move in, you face the possibility of sharing the main space of your home with them while contractors come in and out to do the work of finishing the basement. There are worse things than a few weeks of inconvenience, but it’s not ideal. If you can avoid this scenario by thinking ahead, it will make the transition easier on the entire family.
2. Provide all the basic amenities.
Make sure your finished basement includes a bathroom and kitchen. The last thing you want is a parent with mobility issues having to trek up and down the stairs every time they need a glass of water. By ensuring they can meet all their main needs without leaving the space, you make it safer and more convenient. And you make it easier for you and your parents to maintain a level of independence while living under the same roof.
3. Think about accessibility upfront.
Usually by the time a parent leaves their own home to move in with you, they’re already dealing with some health issues. Instead of making home modifications after they move in to accommodate their needs, look into the most common tips for improving accessibility for aging in place before you get started.
Discuss the most important accessibility options to include with your contractor upfront. They may be able to provide insights and suggestions based on similar projects they’ve done before. And incorporating accessibility as part of the basement finishing process will save you time and money overall versus treating it as a separate job later.
4. Make the basement match the rest of your house.
When you picture a basement, you may imagine a space that’s dark and dank. A finished basement shouldn’t be either of those things. Don’t skimp on aspects like flooring and lighting. As much as possible, make the space aesthetically and functionally match your house. That will ensure it’s a comfortable, pleasant place for your loved one to move into, and one you’ll enjoy spending time with them in.
5. Hire a good contractor.
Don’t try to DIY finishing a basement. It’s too big of a job, and requires too many specialized skills and permits. You don’t want to end up with a space that’s not safe or up to code just because you tried to save some money. And while it’s not as big an issue as safety, you also don’t want it to be ugly. If you’re going to spend the money, make sure you do it right.
A contractor will know how to turn the basement you have into a space that meets all the needs of your loved one. Fineline Construction has over twenty years of experience helping homeowners finish their basements in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. To get the process started for your basement finishing project, set up a free consultation today.