Curious about granny pods? You’re not alone. Granny pods are becoming a popular option for seniors looking for independent housing near family. While the name may be off-putting at first, a granny pod could be the right option for you. Let’s explore what a granny pod is and the benefits of buying or building one for you or a loved one.
About granny pods
What is a granny pod?
A granny pod – also known as a care cottage, guest house, ADU or in-law apartment – is a small-scale home ranging from 80 to 400 square feet. It’s often located in the backyard of a main home, providing the resident independence. The floor plan for a granny pod is often like a studio or one-bedroom, with a separate kitchen and bathroom. The idea is to have the grandparent close by, while also respecting his/her privacy.
What are the design elements of a granny pod?
The design of a granny pod can vary greatly. Usually, they have seniors in mind and incorporate universal design. This type of design includes wide doorways for easy wheelchair access, one-story open floor plans, ramps, railings, grab bars and good lighting.
Granny pods also have safety features such as a 24/7 emergency call system, security webcams and smart door locks. There may also be temperature controls for comfort.
Moreover, some granny pods may be equipped for health needs, including ADL-friendly fixtures, a bed lift, medication reminders, fall sensors, a first aid kit and a smart toilet for health monitoring.
What are the benefits of a granny pod?
Granny pods have plenty of benefits for seniors and their families. Here are some of the top benefits:
- Aging close to loved ones: Seniors don’t have to go far. Instead of a care facility that may be a long drive or even in another state, seniors can instead stay close.
- Independence and privacy: While the granny pod is close to the main home, it gives seniors a sense of independence and privacy. They won’t feel like they’re stepping on their family’s toes all the time.
- Less expensive than care facilities: Care facilities, especially nursing homes, are expensive, often ranging from $3,000-$8,000 a month. While granny pods involve an initial investment, they often can be made for the same price as one or two years in a care facility.
- Emotionally easier for seniors: Seniors may like the idea of staying near family, while also having some privacy. It may be an easier leap emotionally to live in a granny pod than in a care facility.
- Boost property value: Granny pods can increase the value of the property. It also can be repurposed in the future as a guest house or rental home.
What are the drawbacks of a granny pod?
Of course, a granny pod may not be right for every senior. Specifically, a granny pod may not cover certain key elements of care services.
- May not meet seniors’ care needs: Many seniors need extra help as they age, including medical care but also custodial care (bathing, dressing, toileting, etc.). A granny pod doesn’t cover these types of care services.
- Lack of meals and amenities: Another benefit of an assisted living, retirement community or care facility is that meals and amenities such as housekeeping are included. This can be a huge help to seniors who would like to lighten their load.
- Lack of senior community: While granny pods are close to family, they’re not tied directly to the senior community. Many senior housing options allow seniors to get a strong community and build new friendships.
- Upfront costs of buying/building: A granny pod may not be affordable for every family. The upfront cost (upwards of $100,000) is fairly hefty.
- Increase in utility bills: The granny pod’s electricity, gas and water lines are often shared with the main house. This means utility bills will increase.
- Increase in property tax: By increasing the value of the land, property tax will also increase.
Covering your legal bases
Are granny pods legal?
On the whole, granny pods are legal. However, you’ll need to get all the permits and permissions before starting to build – both at the state and local level.
What states allow granny pods?
You’ll need to check your state and local laws about granny pods. Since they’re a fairly new movement, some states don’t yet have laws about building backyard structures.
These regulations are always changing, too. To learn more about your state’s laws, you can go to this volunteer-run ADU site to check your location.
What permits will I need for my granny pod?
Once again, this will depend on your state and local laws. Overall, you should cover your bases by checking about these permissions:
- Local housing authority
- Zoning permits
- Occupancy regulations
- Homeowner association agreements
- Proximity to historic areas or protected parks
You should look into all of these potential areas before buying or building a granny pod in your backyard.
Buying or building granny pods
How much do granny pods cost?
Granny pods require an upfront investment, but they may be well worth the investment. This is especially true in context of the high price tag of care facilities. A granny pod costs about $50,000-$250,000 to make. Compared to the nursing home average of $7,000-$8,000 a month, an investment in a granny pod could pay off. It’s also a structure that will last over time and can be repurposed in the future.
Realistically, most granny pods require at least $85,000-$125,000 to cover all the basics of a kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. However, the final price depends on the size, materials, amenities and extras you want to include.
Where can I buy a granny pod?
You have choices when it comes to buying a granny pod, including:
- Buying a prefabricated cottage
- Buying a used granny pod
- Hiring a private company to build one
- Buying a cabin kit to build it yourself
- Building it yourself
The pre-fabricated cottage is often the most affordable option, though you’ll still have to pay for electricity, gas and water installation. At the same time, building a granny pod on your own can cut costs because you don’t have to pay for labor.
Where can I find used granny pods?
Buying a used granny pod is a great option if you want to save. Granny pods are easy to transport too, so you don’t have to worry about in-transit damage. To look for a used granny pod, you should check your local listings including real estate sites, Craigslist and social media marketplaces.
Can I build my own granny pod?
Certainly. You can choose to build your own granny pod with your own design, or buy a cabin kit. These kits are becoming popular and can help streamline the building process.
Finding granny pods
How do granny pods compare to other senior housing options?
As we’ve mentioned, granny pods are a great option for seniors who would like to stay close to family and retain some of their independence. The best candidates for a granny pod are seniors who are still in good health and don’t need daily care services. It’s also a good choice for seniors who aren’t interested in the meals and amenities of a care facility – and instead want to keep their current routine and community. It’s also important that the senior’s family can cover the upfront cost of buying or building a granny pod.
A granny pod is a great senior housing option, though it’s not the only one. Seniors who require daily care services or those who are interested in the meals, amenities and community of a care facility may be happier elsewhere. In terms of price, a granny pod may be cheaper in the long run, though it doesn’t include care services or extras found in assisted living or retirement communities.
How do I know if a granny pod is right for me?
A granny pod may be the right choice for you, especially if you’re interested in staying close to family and you enjoy your current routine. It’s also a good investment for families that can afford it.
If you want more information about senior housing alternatives like granny pods, you can check out the resources at MyCaringPlan. Here you’ll get a range of options so that your senior housing decision is fully informed.
- ‘Granny Pods’ Allow Elderly Family Members to Live in a High-Tech Backyard Cottage, Country Living, https://www.countryliving.com/home-design/a37788/granny-pods/
- Everything You Need to Know About Granny Pods, Good Housekeeping, https://www.goodhousekeeping.com/home/decorating-ideas/a31943933/what-are-granny-pods/
- What is a Granny Pod?, Family Handyman, https://www.familyhandyman.com/list/what-is-a-granny-pod/
- Aging in Place: Granny Pods Provide Privacy and Independence, HomeLight, https://www.homelight.com/blog/buyer-granny-pod/