Years ago, you bought your dream home. You lovebuilding-a-guest-house your house and everything about it — it’s got a huge yard, beautiful kitchen, and ample room for your family. Well, most of the time it has ample room for your family. During the holidays and when your in-laws have lengthy visits, things can get tight. Someone has to give up their bedroom in order to accommodate your guests, bathroom times get shortened, and if the visit lasts more than a couple of days, everyone starts to long for a bit more privacy. Lately, you’ve started thinking about building a guest house, especially for those longer visits from friends and family.

Building a guest house can involve factors that you don’t have to consider with other types of home remodeling projects. Here are five things to know before you get started building a guest house.

5 Keys to Successfully Building a Guest House

1. If You Can, Utilize Your Existing Structure

That little-used sunporch or often-ignored garage may be the perfect opportunity to help you avoid starting from the ground up with your guest house project. An attached guest house can still have all the amenities you’d add into stand-alone guest quarters, including a bathroom and even a small kitchen. Because you’re using an exterior room, you can also give your guests their own access in and out of their guest quarters without having to go through the main house — particularly helpful if you have guests who stay for longer periods of time and need to come and go as they please without disturbing anyone.

2. Set Up Separate Utilities

If you opt to build a stand-alone structure rather than create a home addition, make sure you separate out the utilities for the guest house. This includes things like electricity, water, and even cable/satellite. With the utilities running separately, you can easily turn them off if no one uses the guest house for a long period of time. In addition to this, if you ever utilize the guest house as a rental unit (something we’ll discuss later in the list), your tenant can cover their utilities. 3. Research Any Local Restrictions No matter how big your yard is, you may not be able to simply build a brand-new structure on your property due to zoning restrictions, building laws, or rules put in place by your homeowners association. Before building a guest house, research to find out what the local laws are, both for your city/town and your neighborhood.

4. Building a Guest House Is Just Like Building a Larger House

All of the planning and elements of building a full-sized house are involved in building a guest house. This means that you’ll need to submit construction plans for approval, secure building permits, and follow all of the applicable construction regulations to make sure the project is done in a safe fashion and is built to code. This is why it’s essential to work with an experienced contractor to design and build out your guest house. When it’s complete, you’ll be able to rest assured that from the structure itself to any electrical or plumbing work, everything was completed properly by reliable and licensed experts.

In addition to this, your contractor will help you plan out and budget the project. They can even utilize 3D renderings during the planning stages to show you what the project will look like once it’s completed.

5. Consider the Potential for Rental

A guest house can function as more than just a mother-in-law suite during the Christmas holidays. During the times when people aren’t visiting, you can cover the cost of the project by using it as a rental. People often visit websites like Airbnb looking for suites or even single rooms to rent. Check to make sure your area doesn’t have any regulation against short-term property rentals. If you’re in the clear, keep this rental potential in mind as you decide which amenities to include in your guest house.

You might also consider building and using a guest house as a long-term rental unit. This can be an excellent way to generate a bit of extra income.

Whether you’re building a guest house as extra space for visiting family members or as a form of passive income, you’ll find that if you plan it out properly, it will make your life easier and your home much more attractive.

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