1. Welcome to the new and improved Building Code Forum. We appreciate you being here and hope that you are getting the information that you need concerning all codes of the building trades. This is a free forum to the public due to the generosity of the Sawhorses, Corporate Supporters and Supporters who have upgraded their accounts. If you would like to have improved access to the forum please upgrade to Sawhorse by clicking here: Upgrades
    Dismiss Notice

In-Law Suites

Discussion in 'Residential Building Codes' started by Buelligan, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. Buelligan

    Buelligan Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    4
    So how does everyone handle what is commonly called an in-law suite?

    Do you allow a single family residence to have a second kitchen on the same level as a living space bathroom and bedroom, say in the basement? Somewhere for say a child or parent to live in the same house?

    Would this be considered a two family dwelling and be required to be separated? We were posed with the question because at some point the parent in the basement was gone and it is now rented as an apartment? Does this fall under a change of use? Does the parent vs. a renter actually have any distinction in the 2009 IRC? I think I remember reading somewhere that immediate family was relevant, maybe not.

    I'm not sure I want to be the one to make them separate "mother in-laws" area! so any help would be appreciated :)
     
  2. mjesse

    mjesse Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    12
    Is it a duplex, or a house with two kitchens?

    Shouldn't be too difficult to make the distinction based on plans.

    Like many other other examples, we shouldn't try to regulate changes which might happen in the future, only what we see in the present.
     
    Glenn likes this.
  3. north star

    north star Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    3,829
    Likes Received:
    274
    * ~ * ~ * ~ *

    Buelligan,

    This topic is typically a Zoning issue........What guidelines are available

    by the AHJ, ...if any ?



    * ~ * ~ * ~ *
     
  4. mark handler

    mark handler Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 25, 2009
    Messages:
    10,601
    Likes Received:
    871
    Our Zoning requires extra parking
     
  5. steveray

    steveray Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Nov 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,015
    Likes Received:
    1,027
    Usually zoning around here brings up the issue...it is not a building code violation until it actually becomes a "2 family" if you have that definition....We draw a line at around 6 "unrelated" people per IRC unit...
     
  6. Darren Emery

    Darren Emery Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Zoning, Zoning, Zoning. Did I mention zoning? You need to be talking to your zoning administrator, and get EVERYONE on the same page.

    We deal with this one all the time (college town) and it causes all kinds of problems. Get a plan, get it in writing, codify it, and enforce consistently.

    Oh yeah - your legal team better be involved in this one as well.

    Good luck.
     
  7. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,566
    Likes Received:
    1,185
    I normally call it a catering kitchen, like in my McMansion I have for entertaining.

    Is there a limit on cooking areas???
     
  8. mjesse

    mjesse Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    12
    Nope.

    Multiple kitchens are very common in certain ethnic and religious communities as well
     
  9. fatboy

    fatboy Administrator

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    5,926
    Likes Received:
    650
    mjesse has it nailed. Our P & Z Division has a fit whenever they see plans with it, I let them battle it. I would label it my kosher kitchen..........
     
  10. JBI

    JBI Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    2,788
    Likes Received:
    288
    There was a large number of requests for these in NYS a few years ago while I was still in direct enforcement. Under the IRC they would be deemed two-family and require separations per R302.3 of the IRC.

    Interestingly, NYS's assessor's were give a new property classification during that time by NYSORPS, a '215' is a single family with an accessory apartment. Previously only had '210' for single family and '220' for a 2-family.

    Agree with most above, primarily a zoning issue, but also acknowledge the IRC provisions.
     
  11. Buelligan

    Buelligan Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    4
    Thanks guys, I think that gives us some leeway.

    Our Zoning ordinance defines a second dwelling as having a "kitchen" with a sink, refrigerator and a heating source. Remove any one of the three and it is not a second dwelling. They are not allowed everywhere but are in some cases.

    My difficulty lies in the definitions. I don't want to start separating mom or dad's living area just so they can be with their family.

    DWELLING. Any building that contains one or two dwelling units used, intended, or designed to be built, used, rented, leased, let or hired out to be occupied, or that are occupied for living purposes.



    DWELLING UNIT. A single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation

    Dwelling being one or two dwelling units, no mention of family here. This includes just being used as well as rented or leased.

    Dwelling unit being independent facilities for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.

    So in my mind if you put a second bedroom, living area, kitchen and a bathroom in the basement of a single family dwelling you have now created a second dwelling unit, by definition, regardless of who is actually using it.

    R302.3 Two-family dwellings.

    Dwelling units in two-family dwellings shall be separated from each other by wall and/or floor assemblies having not less than a 1-hour fire-resistance rating when tested in accordance with ASTM E 119 or UL 263. Fire-resistance-rated floor-ceiling and wall assemblies shall extend to and be tight against the exterior wall , and wall assemblies shall extend from the foundation to the underside of the roof sheathing.

    But by this language it implies that it would have to be a "two family dwelling unit" and this implies two separate families? Even though the new area is a second dwelling unit by definition?

    Existing single family dwelling with a renovation for the unfinished basement with all the defined requirements for a second dwelling unit so Mom can live independently in the same house. Again I am not trying to regulate the future, that was the scenario some one questioned. Should we not be separating mom's new dwelling in the basement per IRC when the renovation is done? Because now we have a house that was built with this scenario and is now being rented as an apartment. We are being asked why we didn't separate them when it was mom's "apartment".

    So what I am taking from this we need to write into the ordinance that this "second dwelling unit" does not need separation as long as the occupants are related? Because I do not see where the code allows it to exist without separation regardless of who occupies it.

    Sorry for the long post but this could get sticky and I need a clear understanding, thanks for the help everyone.
     
    #11 Buelligan, Feb 27, 2015
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 27, 2015
  12. rktect 1

    rktect 1 Gold Member

    Joined:
    Oct 20, 2009
    Messages:
    871
    Likes Received:
    31
    I don't see anything in the building code that says only one fridge, cooking range/oven, dishwasher and microwave.

    Until then......
     
    Glenn likes this.
  13. Buelligan

    Buelligan Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 7, 2010
    Messages:
    120
    Likes Received:
    4
    I know that, I only meant that's how our zoning ordinance defines it. The code says: provides complete independent living facilities...provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation. All of which are provided in most "in-law suites" as they are usually referred to. And are provided in this case.
     
  14. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,566
    Likes Received:
    1,185
  15. Francis Vineyard

    Francis Vineyard Registered User

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2010
    Messages:
    3,113
    Likes Received:
    417
    Can zoning prohibit the house or dwelling from being rented to unrelated occupants in a single family dwelling?

    The term “family” can be difficult to apply, but you would just use the dictionary definition. There’re probably some housing laws and court cases that might be useful in questionable cases, but if the owner admits that the purpose is for more than one family, then it’s a duplex.

    Typically if it’s a mother-in-law suite or an apartment for a relative, then we would just put that stipulation on the certificate of occupancy so the owner is aware that it cannot be later used for two separate families. However Single Family Dwelling on the CO is usually sufficient.
     
  16. mjesse

    mjesse Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    988
    Likes Received:
    12
    I'm not reading it the same as you.

    You simply have a single dwelling unit with many bedrooms and kitchens.

    You only get multiple family dwelling unit AFTER you separate.

    I agree with Francis, CO says single family...done.

    BTW, good luck with arguing the definition of "family" in court. We too have completely moved away with trying to challenge who's who.
     
    Glenn likes this.
  17. mtlogcabin

    mtlogcabin Registered User

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2009
    Messages:
    7,598
    Likes Received:
    961
    DWELLING UNIT. A single unit providing complete independent living facilities for one or more persons, including permanent provisions for living, sleeping, eating, cooking and sanitation.

    Does this mean complete and independent heating systems, electrical panels and system, water service. It takes more than a fire separation to create individual dwellings

    Previous jurisdiction I worked, zoning treated these as a special exception or others may call it a conditional use permit (cup). They where reviewed annually and when the relative no longer resided on site then the use was no longer permitted. Sometimes a remodel to remove the kitchen would be done or open the space to freely communicate with the other areas of the house.
     
  18. ccbuilding

    ccbuilding Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    87
    Likes Received:
    11
    Our jurisdiction allows either a separate or attached "accessory" dwelling. It must be under 1000 sq. ft. Can have a full kitchen, bedroom(s), living area, but only one bathroom (why only one, I'm not sure). The owner must sign a recorded document stating the unit will never be used as a rental. It must use same address and utility services, so no separation required.
     
  19. cda

    cda Sawhorse

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2009
    Messages:
    17,566
    Likes Received:
    1,185
    So any problem with a large house that had a regular kitchen and also a catering kitchen, with all sleeping rooms under one roof. And , able to get to all sleeping areas from the main house ?
     
  20. tmurray

    tmurray Registered User

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2011
    Messages:
    1,764
    Likes Received:
    477
    We look at if it can be operated as an independent suite. If it can it is a 2 family dwelling, if it can't then it is a single family dwelling with in-law suite. Our zoning by-law falls into line with this.
     

Share This Page