Mi casa es su casa. Make yourself at home! Ever thought about adding a guest house to your property? If you have, read on, because this one’s for you.
If you have extra space on your lot, a propensity for hosting, and some money that you’re looking to invest, a guest house might be right up your alley. Not only is a guest house great for visitors, but it can also serve as a home for your more permanent guests. Who are these so-called permanent guests? Well, that’s up to you. A guest house can be suitable for in-laws, elderly parents, a child returning from college, or even paying tenants.
A Guest House is a Guest Home
So what exactly is a guest house? It’s a small dwelling that is semi or fully detached from the lot’s principal residence. But despite its modest size, the guest house is still equipped with basic amenities to make it comfortable and welcoming. The average guest house typically contains a bed, bath, sitting area, and sometimes a kitchenette.
Typically, space is arranged in the studio apartment or deluxe hotel suite-style, meaning it’s built with an open concept layout, except for the bathroom, which has to be closed off for obvious reasons. Sometimes, a luxe guest house will be separated by partial or full walls for added privacy. However, an open floor plan is more common because it offers the petite structure a more airy and spacious feel.
Guesthouses sometimes go by other names, like ‘in-law suites,’ ‘granny flats,’ ‘cottages,’ and ‘casitas’—which quite literally means ‘small house’ in Spanish. However, a guest house is not the same as an accessory dwelling unit.
Guest House vs. ADU
You can think of an accessory dwelling unit, or ADU, as a decked-out guest house.
Unlike its counterpart, an ADU has a complete kitchen and bathroom – that means a sink, stove/oven, bath/shower, and all the appropriate electrical wiring and necessary plumbing. If you intend to rent out your guesthouse to paying tenants, it must be zoned as an ADU and must include a full kitchen equipped for cooking and a bathroom with washing amenities.
Guesthouses are a perfect fit for short-term visitors or even longer-term occupants—typically close friends and family. But the idea is that the guest house functions almost as a sitting and sleeping quarters. If the resident should need anything else, say, a fully-stocked pantry or a dip in the soaker tub, they could access it inside the primary residence. A guest house is like a hotel suite in that it’s not equipped for full-time independent living the way an actual house is.
Obviously, this model won’t work if you plan to have a paying tenant living in your guest house. You probably don’t want an acquaintance popping in and out of your home to use the oven, so the guest house must be fully outfitted for independent living. Thus, the ADU serves as an entirely self-contained unit, making it ideal for rentals, and it’s perfect for homeowners looking to make a little extra income on the side.
What to Expect
But to reap the rewards of a guest house or ADU, you have to invest the time, effort, and money. Just how much of each can you expect to invest?
Well, depending on the project in question, a guest house can take around several months of work and tens of thousands of dollars. Your investment can vary significantly depending on the specs and scope of your project. The bigger it is, the more customization that’s required. The higher quality of the materials are, the more expensive the project is going to be. Depending on those factors, you may end up paying between $80-$160 per fully installed square foot, and that includes both the cost of materials and labor. To build a 600-700 square foot guest house, the bottom line can cost around $45,000, again, depending on the materials, fixtures, and features you choose.
Although the price tag can be hefty, many homeowners find the amount of use and enjoyment they get out of it makes their investment worthwhile. So whether you’re hosting visitors for a few days, weeks, months, or years, a guest house can be an excellent addition to your property.