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        Basement Remodel or Room Addition for In-Law Suite Sign In/Join 
        posted
        Trying to decide what might be better for my mother who would like to sell her home now that my father has passed away. We have a large walk-out above ground basement that is somewhat setup for an in-law suite but the layout is not what she is used to. The full bath is narrow and I'm wondering if it would be better just to add on an addition instead of breaking up concrete in the basement to add another big master with a nice large bath and big walk-in closet. Any thoughts? The house is only 10 years old & the ceiling height in the basement is 8' and there is about 1600 s.f. in the basement.
         
        Posts: 1 | Registered: Apr 07, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of joecaption
        posted Hide Post
        Someone would really have to be there to look over the big picture on this one.
        Some factors to consider are her health condition.
        A basement can tend to be cooler and more humid unless some precautions are taken.
        How is she going to be able to get up and down the stairs in the future as she gets older?
        Was this basement finished with a permit?
        What's the access like going into the main house?
        Are there wide enough doors already in the basement and in the home to allow for future wheel chair access?
        How wide are the stairs going from the basement to the main home.


        joecaption
         
        Posts: 18004 | Location: Hartfield VA | Registered: Jan 31, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        I agree with everything Joe has suggested. I've been through these types of issues with my mother, sister and now my father. Mobility, safety and access are key for older folks.

        Does the walk-out basement require use of any stairs to get to the main house or the car? Is she still driving? Is the entryway configured so that a ramp could be installed in the future if necessary?
        Is there protection from the weather so that she can get directly to a vehicle without walking on slippery sidewalks?

        What security is there - older folks also can easily get scared when they're alone, especially after your father has died and she no longer has the protection he might have provided. That initial period of being alone and possibly feeling isolated can sometimes become a major factor in housing arrangements.

        Is there separate heating and cooling control? I assume the basement is finished and/or semi-finished as well as insulated?

        The narrow bath would definitely be an impediment. I can't speak to the
        advisability of remodeling vs. an addition, but there are several contractors here who can. Not only would cost and feasibility be an issue, but the time framework would be as well, depending on how quickly your mother wants to sell her house, how soon it would actually sell, and the real estate market in her area.

        If you do remodel or add on, the size of the bathroom is important more in terms of wheelchair access, sink access, walk-in shower or tub, proximity to her bedroom, and other mobility and safety factors.

        What kind of floors are in the basement?

        There are contractors which specialize in retrofitting bathrooms for older folks; you might want to contact a few and get some estimates.

        Contact your local Area Agency on Aging and find out when their next aging expo will be held. In SE Michigan, they're held annually, generally in the Fall. We've gone to several and always bring back info on these types of contractors. If there's no expo to be held soon, you could research to see if there are any adaptability contractors in your area. I forget the exact classification but can check my files if you choose this option.

        Some local communities which have Senior Centers also sponsor smaller aging expos.

        Another concern would be how isolated your mother would be from the main living area. Will she be doing her own cooking? Grocery shopping? Does she need any assistance now, whether it's with a cane, walker or just someone to stand by her? Has she ever fallen? What are her other existing and potential health issues?

        Is the total 1600 sq. ft. open or is it divided into rooms? Are there places where you can have grab bars installed at transition points from one room/area to another?

        Is it wired for phone service? What's the outside accessibility for an ambulance or van if she needs that kind of service? If she were to fall, could emergency personnel get to the basement with a stretcher?

        You're wise to address these issues now.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1749 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        Other factors: is it a given that your mother will move in with you as opposed to moving to an apartment, independent or assisted living?

        I ask not because I think these alternatives are good choices. Although I've seen some nice facilities, the fee for service basis in the assisted living facilities raises the basic rental costs significantly. And it can be depressing to be with a predominantly older and health-compromised population (not to mention the exposure to communicable diseases).

        Do you have small children? Although it would be great for your mother to be near her grandchildren every day, the level of activity of small children can sometimes tire out an older person, even with separate living quarters. A multitude of voices all competing for attention can just be overwhelming.

        On the other hand, it could help her adapt to her new single lifestyle, and provide emotional support.

        If your children are small, there are still many ways that they can help Grandma and the relationship can benefit both.

        This is a bit off topic and even though you didn't ask, plan to incorporate pet and music therapy into your mother's lifestyle, especially if she seems to be getting depressed.

        Over the years I've seen several of my parents' friends try to cope after the death of their spouse. The ones who lived with family members were able to cope better than the ones who were moved to institutional living.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1749 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        quote:
        Originally posted by VickieBrooks73:
        Trying to decide what might be better for my mother who would like to sell her home now that my father has passed away. We have a large walk-out above ground basement that is somewhat setup for an in-law suite but the layout is not what she is used to. The full bath is narrow and I'm wondering if it would be better just to add on an addition instead of breaking up concrete in the basement to add another big master with a nice large bath and big walk-in closet. Any thoughts? The house is only 10 years old & the ceiling height in the basement is 8' and there is about 1600 s.f. in the basement.


        In reading your post you are looking to sell the house in the near future, if that is the case I would not do anything to the basement but declutter it. Put money into freshening up the house upstairs. Fresh paint, new neutral carpet if there aren't hardwoods, clean up the landscaping. Replace anything that is broken. With the landscaping if it is overgrown cut it back now to let it produce new growth this spring to fill it back in. Fix any obvious problems with the house.

        I would not remodel the kitchen, bathrooms. I would start with a real estate agent to get an assessment of what the house should list for and what suggestions the agent may have for improving the marketability of the house. In general I would not remodel for resale. Your local market may vary. Back in the day when HGTV had actual design shows "Designed to Sell" would come in and for a small amount of money $3000 as I recall prepare a house for sale. They didn't do major remodeling, fresh paint, flooring, declutter, furniture arrangement, cleaned up landscaping etc.

        Unless the homes in your mother's neighborhood have had a lot of upgrades you don't need to do it. At 10 years old they all likely have the same kitchens as when they were built. Homes on TV aren't your competition, the homes for sale within a mile or so are your competition.

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: Sparky617,


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 626 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of GardenSprite
        posted Hide Post
        After reading Sparky617's comments, I wonder if I misunderstood the proposed plans.

        Vickie, are the issues (a) selling your mother's house, and (b) whether to remodel your basement or add an addition to your house, or (c) whether to remodel your mother's basement prior to selling her home?

        This message has been edited. Last edited by: GardenSprite,
         
        Posts: 1749 | Registered: Oct 06, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        Picture of Jaybee
        posted Hide Post
        OK, I read this as: Mom has a house that she plans to sell. Vicki has a house with a full basement.

        If that's the case, then you will get more bang for the buck out of finishing the basement vs building an addition. Even if the layout of the current basement is wrong, with 1,600 SF, all but the most picky moms should be able to live there. Even if you have to completely remodel the entire basement to get a good layout, you will still be out less money than you will to build the same SF size addition.


        Jaybee
         
        Posts: 10151 | Location: Knoxville, Tennessee | Registered: Sep 27, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
        posted Hide Post
        My bad. I agree with Jay's assessment, finishing the existing walk-out basement will be more cost effective than adding on to the house.

        One question that will need to be answered before you do any work is how much of an apartment can you make the basement? Adding a kitchen or kitchenette may not be permissible by your zoning. Adding a bedroom, bathroom and living area shouldn't raise any flags. UNLESS you're on a septic tank your septic system may not be sized to handle the extra bathroom. They use number of bedrooms and bathrooms to determine the number of people that will be using the system on a regular basis when sizing the system. If you're on public sewer that wouldn't be a concern.

        If mobility for mom is a concern, and at some point it will likely be a concern you could always install a stair lift to allow her easy access to the main living space with the rest of the family. The basement option will give her independence from the rest of the family while providing proximity when she needs help.


        General Disclaimer

        Any advice given here is general in nature and is not necessarily valid for your given area. If in doubt check with your local codes enforcement department for what is required when doing electrical, plumbing or structural work on your house. Permits may or may not be required in your area and home owners may not be able to DIY some tasks. I have no way of knowing if you have the skills needed to complete the tasks you are asking about, when in doubt seek professional assistance.

        My advice may be worth exactly what you pay me for it. :-) For the record I did not stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night.
         
        Posts: 626 | Location: Cary, NC | Registered: Aug 17, 2006Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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