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Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit Right for Your Aging Parents? Thumbnail

Is An Accessory Dwelling Unit Right for Your Aging Parents?

Assisted living in your own back yard?

Ninety percent of seniors say they’d prefer to stay in their homes and age in place. But many times, that’s not realistic, whether it’s due to failing health, stairs or other impediments to mobility, or frigid climates. Expensive traditional care facilities such as assisted living apartments and nursing homes are financially impossible for many families. Our nation’s growing older population is a factor, too. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 National Population Projections, all baby boomers will be older than age 65 by the year 2030. This will expand the size of the senior population such that one in every five American residents will be of retirement age. As older citizens become more populous, accessory dwelling units, or ADUs, are emerging as a popular trend.

Multigenerational housing to the rescue.

An ADU—sometimes given the less-than-flattering moniker “granny flat” or “granny pod”— is a standalone structure typically 1,000 square feet or less, equipped with its own accessible bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen, and located in the back yard of the primary residence. These tiny homes allow elderly individuals to maintain their independence while remaining in proximity to family members. Other important benefits of ADU’s include:


Loneliness is a serious issue for many seniors. Those who have lost a spouse or live far from family often become isolated or depressed. When driving is no longer possible, it creates further isolation. An ADU allows interaction with family members on a daily basis.


According to Genworth’s 2018 Cost of Care Survey, nursing home care in the U.S. runs a staggering $94,800 per year on average, and assisted living isn’t far behind. The money spent to live in these facilities is gone for good. An attractive and thoughtfully constructed ADU, on the other hand, can actually increase your property’s resale value. When your elderly relative no longer needs the unit, it can be converted into a guest house, office or rental unit that provides additional income.

Ease of maintenance: 

Many seniors find it too difficult to care for a large house and all of that unused space. Downsizing to an ADU simplifies household chores and virtually eliminates home maintenance and yard care.


Close but separate living quarters allow family members to retain privacy in their home environment while caring for elderly relatives.

Peace of mind: 

Worrying about the health, safety and security of an aging parent living far away is a major stressor for everyone involved. Having mom or dad just a few steps out the back door provides convenience and alleviates anxiety.

Even with their many benefits, ADUs aren’t right for everyone:

Increasingly, municipalities across the nation are updating their zoning rules to permit the construction of ADUs, especially in areas where housing costs are high. If you’re contemplating having an ADU built for your aging parent, start by checking with your county’s zoning department. Although ADU’s are small in size, they’re complex endeavors and they aren’t cheap to build. While the cost varies widely, the current median is $140,000 and you can expect the construction process to take six to eight months.

Affordable, practical housing is a growing concern as the tide of aging Baby Boomers comes on the scene. ADUs offer an attractive alternative housing solution for our aging population. If you think an ADU might be in your family’s future, or if you would like additional information, our knowledgeable advisors are here to help. Please contact us today to learn more. 


About FAI Wealth Management, Inc.: Located in Columbia, Maryland, FAI focuses on helping clients create the financial future they desire by protecting their wealth, making the most of their assets, and planning for life’s uncertainties. The firm combines fee-only, fiduciary-driven guidance with highly personalized, consultative financial planning and investment services that enable individuals, families, and businesses to navigate complex life transitions. Founded in 1987, FAI currently manages more than $350 million in client assets nationwide. For more information about FAI Wealth Management, please visit the website at https://www.faiwealth.com or call 410.715.9200.
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