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Real Estate Law | Couple wants to create ‘mother-in-law suite’ in their home

By ERIC P. FEICHTHALER - Real Estate Law | Mar 29, 2024

Eric P. Feichthaler

Dear Mr. Feichthaler:

I have a relatively large home in Cape Coral, and we are considering converting part of the house to a “mother-in-law suite” for my elderly mother. My wife and I are both in favor of this for a variety of reasons. She is still independent and wants to have her own room, bathroom and kitchen so she feels she is not intruding. We are struggling to find a contractor that advertises they can do this. Do you know who we can call?

Tyler W.

Dear Tyler:

First, it is outstanding that you are considering opening your home to your mother. I am sure she appreciates the gesture. My grandmother was independent well into her 90s, but needed to be nearer family eventually.

In Cape Coral, there are many instances where various family members live together, which is completely allowable under city ordinance. However, the development regulations make one restriction clearly: a home may not contain more than one kitchen. Many homes have accessory items like microwaves, sinks, dishwashers and other similar items in other rooms in the home. What a home may not have is more than one stove or oven. Even if you built a guesthouse on the property, which the code does allow for, it, too, cannot have its own kitchen.

Hopefully, you will be able to separate everything else possible in a way to maximize her and your privacy, and provide her all the items possible to encourage independent living. However, when it comes to making her best spaghetti sauce or roast turkey, it will be in the shared kitchen. Maybe she can teach you a few things about great cooking!

Of course, if you do need renovations completed in the home, always be sure to engage a licensed contractor.

Eric P. Feichthaler has lived in Cape Coral for over 35 years and graduated from Mariner High School in Cape Coral. After completing law school at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., he returned to Cape Coral to practice law and raise a family. He served as mayor of Cape Coral from 2005-2008, and continues his service to the community through the Cape Coral Caring Center, and Cape Coral Kiwanis. He has been married to his wife, Mary, for 22 years, and they have four children. He earned his board certification in Real Estate Law from the Florida Bar, and primarily practices in real estate law and wills and trusts. He is AV Preeminent rated by Martindale-Hubbell for professional ethics and legal ability, and is a Supreme Court Certified Circuit Civil Mediator. He can be reached at eric@capecoralattorney.com, or 239-542-4733.

This article is general in nature and not intended as legal advice to anyone. Individuals should seek legal counsel before acting on any matter of legal rights and obligations.