If you’re looking for the best housing option for your parents or senior loved ones, you’ve probably come across something called granny pods. A granny pod, granny flat, in-law unit, or backyard cottage, is basically an ADU accessory dwelling unit most often located in the backyard of a family home. Its purpose is to offer a comfortable and safe living solution to the elderly while giving them the option to maintain an independent lifestyle.
Granny pods are ideal for families who want to stay close to each other but don’t have the required space or amenities. They’re also a solid alternative to nursing homes, and can potentially even be used to accommodate visiting relatives.
What features do granny pods provide?
This will greatly depend on whether you decide to purchase a pre-made pod or build one on your own. Usually, these are small spaces between 300 and 700 square feet, meant to house one or two people. The most common granny pod design includes a bedroom, kitchenette, and bathroom, so that your loved ones have everything they need in their living space.
There’s an endless possibility of features a granny pod can include, so the best course of action is to choose the ones that will meet your family’s specific needs.
One of the main things that you’ll have to take into consideration when building a dwelling unit for the elderly is that they may have certain requirements regarding the floor plan.
For example, if they need special medical equipment, or have trouble getting around, you’ll have to ensure your new ADU meets these needs. Pay special attention to the design of the bathroom, as well as accessibility from outside. It’s a good idea to keep to these rules when selecting a floor plan:
- Opt for double doors that will allow seniors to get around with a wheelchair or walking aids.
- Make sure the floors are even and that there are no steps/stairs.
- Some granny pods include soft flooring options that help minimize injuries in case of a fall.
- Include lighting at knee height. This will help ensure visibility and minimize the chances of tripping at night.
- Remove all clutter or floor coverings that may cause the elderly to trip and fall.
- Include bathroom features such as grip bars and non-slip tile coating.
- Include basic kitchen appliances such as a fridge, sink, and microwave.
- Don’t forget about safety equipment like smoke and water leak detectors.
Medical alert systems
When building a granny pod, you have the unique opportunity to set it up so that it has everything your parents may need in their old age. Equipping this small home with a medical alert system will ensure that help is immediately available in case of an emergency. GetSafe Medical Alert Systems have units that can be voice-controlled, as well as more traditional ones that require the user to pull a cord or push a button. When these systems are activated, a live operator (who is available 24/7) will come on and alert emergency services if necessary.
This eliminates the need to use wearable help buttons around the house (although they can be an excellent asset because of their auto fall detection feature). Plus, GetSafe units are easy to install, don’t require a landline, and the system can be expanded in case you need additional features later on.
When building a granny flat in their yard, a lot of people choose to equip it with smart home features that allow easy supervision, as well as security perks. These homes can be programmed to predict and fulfill the everyday needs of your household members.
For example, they can be set up so that the doors are automatically locked at night (without having to get up and do it manually). Or, they can be programmed to remind your parents to take their medication at certain times. Smart homes also offer the perks of constant access to entertainment, effortless communication, and they can even make self-care and tidying up more convenient.
Requirements and costs
Unfortunately, not everyone can build an in-law unit, even if they have enough space.
Before getting started with a project such as this, it’s best that you check with your local authority regarding the zoning laws for your municipality. This way, you’ll be aware of all possible limitations. In some areas, you may have to limit the size of your ADU, and you’ll probably have to pay fees to have the flat connected to existing sewage, water, and power systems.
You may also be required to obtain special permits, which will often be temporary, and may even be conditioned by the dweller’s state of health. These are all important things to consider before building or buying, so it’s best that you have all the information before spending your hard-earned money.
Nonetheless, if you do meet all the qualifications to put this type of small structure in your backyard, you’ll find that it’s a great solution to help you keep an eye on your parents. A granny flat ensures you’re there whenever they need help, makes communication and human connection easier, and doesn’t limit anyone’s independence or privacy.