The term "accessory dwelling unit" may not ring any bells, even by the handy acronym of ADU. Granny apartment, granny flat, or mother-in-law suite, may sound more familiar.
A granny apartment gets its name from the occupant who may be ensconced in this residence.
Converted garages or basement apartments, or even cottages built on the main property may be the logical solution to the problem of what to do with mom, or dad, when they are no longer able to live alone.
One of these homes can also be let out to renters. But for our purposes, we're looking at the granny apartment as a way to keep the parents close, without everybody being, well, too close.
Local zoning codes often used to pose a problem for this setup. As the desire for this arrangement has grown, more communities are changing their ordinances to accommodate families' desire to stay together.
There are more alternatives for aging Americans than ever before, including assisted living, retirement communities and nursing homes. Despite the variety, all these options don't suit every family.
According to USAtoday.com, an increasing number of home builders are being contacted for these types of expansions, conversions and additional buildings.
AARP said that 3.5 million families included adult children and their parents, and that this number is expected to grow.
The National Association of Home Builders said that in 2010, a survey showed that 62 percent of builders had modified homes for aging relatives.
If you're trying to keep the expense down, Michael Litchfield, author of "In-Laws, Outlaws and Granny Flats" has some suggestions.
He advised that it is less expensive to avoid expanding your square footage. This will also make it easier to comply with building codes.
Converting your basement can be economical, if the ceilings are high enough, and if there's a pre-existing independent entrance to the basement.
This allows for greater privacy for all concerned. Be realistic about any possible water problems, like potential flooding. This will have a real impact on your plans.
A garage apartment will provide privacy.