As early Millennials become a sandwich generation – caregivers for their own children along with their parents – homeowners are looking for different solutions to the challenge of supporting elderly relatives without infringing on their independence and privacy.
Enter the granny pod, a small home on your property for aging relatives.
What is a Granny Pod?
Granny pods are Accessory Dwelling Units, or ADUs, and are freestanding from the main house but located on the same grounds. The most well-known granny pods are MEDCottages, prefabricated alternatives to nursing homes. These cottage-looking tiny homes are ADA Accessibility Guideline compliant, and are often outfitted with medical equipment.
These single-story homes are typically the size of a studio apartment and include a bedroom, bathroom, kitchenette, and living room. They also feature grab bars and railings throughout, lighted floorboards to prevent tripping, and an ADA walk-in shower. Granny pods can also make use of modern technology for added benefits. A two-way intercom connecting to the main house grants 24/7 access to caregivers, and optional ankle-level cameras and sensors alert to falls. The first-aid kits and pill dispensers mean everyday medical care is easily available, and a plethora of systems can be installed to monitor a resident’s vital signs.
These high-tech, ADA compliant residences don’t have to be a MEDCottage; plenty of caregivers opt to build custom ADUs that meet the needs of seniors. Whether you go with a prefabricated model or a custom design, granny pods are ideal for providing the resident with a sense of peace.
Can I Put a Granny Pod in My Backyard?
The short answer is yes … sometimes. ADUs are regulated by individual cities, meaning there’s no universal answer. Policies are determined by lot size, the number of people who will be occupying the dwelling, the relation of residents to those in the main house, and many other factors.
If you’re thinking of building a granny pod in your backyard, check local ADU regulations for your area, and be sure you know all requirements before beginning construction.
How Much do Granny Pods Cost?
One of the quickest arguments against granny pods is the upfront cost. Building a DIY barebones granny pod (essentially a tiny house) will run you at least $20,000. Begin adding upgrades, medical equipment, and smart features, and estimates will have prices soaring to more than $125,000 for the unit. A significant amount of money, no doubt, but when compared to the average annual expenses of nursing homes in the United States, it starts to look more appealing. If the senior you want to house will require multiple years of supported living, a granny pod will cost you significantly less than a nursing home will in the long run.
Pros and Cons of Granny Pods
Having a hard time deciding if a granny pod is right for you? There are a lot of benefits, but it’s not all puppy dogs and rainbows; let’s lay out the pros and cons.
Pros of Granny Pods
- Family is close by, making it easy to maintain relationships while also ensuring the safety of elderly family members.
- A granny pod independent of the house helps aging parents enjoy independence and privacy.
- State-of-the-art medical equipment is easily accessible.
- Typically, granny pods are less expensive than long term nursing homes.
- ADUs can increase a home’s property value.
Cons of Granny Pods
- Some consider granny pods disrespectful and hurtful, akin to “putting aging parents in storage.”
- You must pay the building costs up front .
- If temporary rehabilitation or short-term care is needed, a granny pod will likely cost more than nursing home stays.
- If your home’s property value increases due to having an ADU and other homes in the area decrease, it might be difficult to sell your home for its full value.
Family members aging brings about a lot of emotions, and it can compound the stress of trying to determine how best to support them. If you’re looking for a modern approach that keeps family close, a granny pod on your property might be the perfect solution.
Mia Zozobrado joined Builders Digital Experience (BDX) in 2019 as a content writer. A graduate of Southwestern University with a degree in English, Mia is passionate about the written word and making connections. Outside of work, Mia also serves on the Board of Directors for the Writers’ League of Texas.