Thinking things through


1. Is an in-law right for you?

2. Designing in-laws

    Exploring six popular types

3. Choosing appliances and materials

    Featuring energy- and space-saving products

4. Plans and permits

Case histories & photo portfolios

5. Basement In-laws

6. Garage conversions

7. Stand-alone In-laws

  1. 8.Bump-outs, carve-outs and attics


About those “Outlaws”

In-law housing is so popular and full of personality that it has spawned dozens of nicknames. “Outlaws,” for example, refer to in-laws not rented to relatives or to units built without permits. In Canada and the UK, in-law suites are also called auntie, uncle and granny flats. In Australia, kangaroo apartments. The list goes on and on: sidekicks,  accessory dwelling units (ADUs), carriage houses, guest cottages and in Hawaii, ohana housing.

Copyright © Michael Litchfield 2010. Photo © Muffy Kibbey Design © fidlweb

n response to tight times, a remarkably upbeat and widespread change is taking place in households across America. Homeowners are creating second dwelling units—often called in-law suites, mother-in-law apartments, or granny flats.


Second units make a lot of sense. They’re perfect for families who want several generations living close by, they enable Baby Boomers to care for elderly parents while respecting their independence, provide private quarters for adult children still at home or, rented out, second units can generate income to pay the mortgage or provide for retirement.

In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats

is the first book to explore the many designs, uses and benefits of this time-honored and emotionally satisfying living arrangement.


In-law units take many forms and they’re all shown here: attic, basement and garage conversions, bump-out additions, carve-out suites, and backyard cottages. This book covers every aspect of turning one house into two homes.

Its first four chapters deal with the specifics of assessing your needs, selecting an appropriate design, choosing space- and energy-saving appliances, and getting your plans approved. The book’s second half is a warm and engaging portfolio of in-law units and the families who created them: what needs prompted their decisions, which layouts worked best, and how they met life challenges with common sense, creativity and compassion.

With more than 200 color photographs, 50 floor plans and architectural details, and a lively, personable voice, In-laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats is perfect for homeowners who want richer lives and a more secure future.

Michael Litchfield has been renovating houses or writing about them for more than 30 years. A founding editor of Fine Homebuilding magazine, Litchfield is perhaps best known as the author of the classic, Renovation: A Complete Guide, now in its 3rd Edition. He is also a Certified Green Building Professional.



Your guide to turning one house into two homes

Buy book

Read reviews

See photos