Get Granny Some Swag

It’s time to sell mom and dads house.  Now you need a place for your elderly parent(s) to live? Get Granny some “House Swag” If you don’t have enough space in your home now there are now so many more options available for your aging parents. Let’s give granny some swag…  Prefab options have come a long way. New laws regarding accessory dwelling units in California are making the process even easier for families.  The information below discusses all the various options from pre-fab guest houses, cottages, and med cottages.
Find out how much your own home or parents home is worth in today’s market.


Tiny prefab home makes picture-perfect backyard guesthouse

Tiny living and prefab construction collide beautifully in this backyard guesthouse designed by Bay Area upstart Avava Systems. Located in Livemore, California, the 264-square-foot shelter is the first completed project for the company’s BriteSpace line, which offers dwellings between 120 and 480 square feet.

This particular build showcases the company’s use of high-quality, sustainable materials like real oak flooring, low-E windows, structural insulated panels, and LED lighting. The interior vibe is sleek and airy. The open living area features an Ikea-furnished kitchen, compact bathroom, huge windows, and a wraparound deck.

Impressed? Well, it’ll cost ya. The base cost for a fully-functional standard unit of this size is $86,554, not to mention extensive add-on options like solar energy and rainwater collection systems and various upgrades.


All photos via Contemporist

Med Cottages

New options now include Med Cottages: Here is another option if you don’t want to send mom and dad to a nursing home, MEDCottages, also known as “Granny Pods,” are the latest rage. We will also discuss hip modular options that can go with any style of home you may have.

In the next 10 years, America’s elderly population is said to double. According to AARP surveys, many older people would rather live at home or with family versus elsewhere. I know, in people’s final years, the quality of their lives is key, and MEDCottages do appear to have many pluses.

RELATED: 10 Gorgeous ‘Granny Pods’ To Keep Aging Family Members Close

The look of a MEDCottage reminds me of a guest house—only, with nursing home amenities inside. But, instead of renting it to just anyone, you purchase the MEDCottage for your loved one. Prices for the MEDCottage Classic range from $85,000 to $125,000.

1bb8d3e0efa9a012e6f02ae729a18c99Sizes And Styles

The cottages average 12 by 24 feet and are comparable to the size of a master bedroom. There are two other styles, in addition to the MEDCottage Classic: the LivingRoom (designed to fit into a garage space) and the MotherShip (designed on an RV platform). Both of these options cost less than the MEDCottage Classic, but exact pricing was not available at the time of publication.

A company in Blacksburg, Virginia, created the MEDCottages, and Virginia Tech helped out, too. As long as your backyard is properly zoned for it, you can build a MEDCottage of your own.


The interior is like a mini nursing home and contains high-tech medical equipment, like hand railings, a video camera system so you could see what’s going on inside—i.e., if your parent needs help—and a soft floor to protect the person if they fall.

Plus, it’s ADA compliant, meaning there’s enough room for someone to get around in a wheelchair. There’s also something called a “virtual companion,” which will play messages like, “it’s time to take your medication.”

While all these high-tech features sound nice, doesn’t having a “virtual companion” defeat the purpose of your loved one being in your very own backyard? Wouldn’t a family member want to be there in person to make sure that his or her parent takes his or her pills?

Will the cottages ward off family members from visiting their elderly parents in the cottages? Will they think, “Well, my mom is fine—she’s right in the backyard, and the video camera will let me know if something’s wrong”?

Better Than A Nursing Home?

My grandmother is 93 and lived with my mother—under the same roof, not a MEDCottage—up until last year. My grandma’s bimonthly falls soon turned into weekly ones, then daily ones. At the same time, my mom had multiple hip surgeries and couldn’t walk or bend down well.

Private nursing care was getting more and more expensive, and my mom eventually chose a nursing home for my grandma. My grandma had been in and out of several (not-so-great ones) over the years, between hospital stays, and the one she’s in now seems like the best in terms of keeping the residents busy with activities (like trivia and afternoon tea and ice cream socials), outings to restaurants, and so forth.

RELATED: Senior Citizens Can Live At This ‘Margaritaville’-Themed Retirement Home, And We Are So Jealous

The nursing home makes sure that residents stay active and are not left alone. In addition, my mother and I take turns visiting my grandma, so someone is there every day.

On the one hand, the MEDCottages seem better than an average nursing home… but only if the family members living in the main house actually spend time with their elderly loved ones. My main fear is that the family in the main house would not visit the cottage often enough and the elderly parent(s) would feel even more lonely than they were before, or more lonely than if they had companionship at a nursing home.

RELATED: 10 Gorgeous ‘Granny Pods’ To Keep Aging Family Members Close

While, yes, one’s aging parents may like the sense of independence the MEDCottages seem to provide, the independence comes at a price—potential loneliness.

So, while I commend the invention of the MEDCottage, I’m still a fan of an elderly family member living in the main house, not outside of it, alone.

But, as we know, what happens to the elderly when they cannot care for themselves is an ever-changing and controversial issue. In the end, I think it’s a case-by-case basis—or, in this instance, a pod-by-pod basis.

‘Granny pods’ become a solution for retirees with limited budgets

  • The micro-living trend has found a receptive audience in seniors, who need affordable living options
  • “Granny pods” are 400-square-foot houses with all the trimmings of a real house, but can fit in a backyard.
  • “I can’t foresee leaving here until I’m dead,” one retiree told CNBC.

    Like many boomers, Jane Baldwin faced a difficult question: “Where do I go next?”

    The 67-year-old retiree was living alone in Wyoming, and had grown tired of cold winters. She wanted to be closer to her family in Oakland, California.

    Not ready to give up her independence entirely by sharing a roof with family — but also unable to purchase another property thanks in part to the Bay Area’s notoriously high cost of housing — Baldwin decided to look no further than the backyard. Her answer was to build a 400-square-foot “granny pod.”

    “I am in love with it,” said Baldwin. “I can’t foresee leaving here until I’m dead.”

    The tiny house is built for accessibility and includes a living room, galley kitchen as well as bedroom. Its hallways and doorways are wide enough for a wheelchair should Baldwin ever need one. All the floors are even eliminating tripping hazards and the shower stall is a walk-in.

    400-square-foot "Granny Pods"

    Source: Inspired Independence
    400-square-foot “Granny Pods”

    Baldwin’s story could become more common. The American population is aging rapidly, with the number of older Americans expected to double in the next three decades, reaching 88 million people by 2050, according to the National Institutes of Health.

    Of that number, a 2016 Genworth study estimated that 70 percent will need some form of long-term care, something Medicare doesn’t cover. It’s why deciding where these older Americans will age is often a difficult family conversation fraught with financial and emotional issues.

    “If people can age in place and age at home it’s much healthier, and the family is happier, but it can be very expensive,” said Carolyn McClanahan, a financial planner at Life Planning Partners in Jacksonville, Florida. “Granny pods can cost anywhere from $100,000 to $250,000. So you got to weigh longevity in there with it.”

    With the cost of skilled nursing care reaching nearly $93,000 a year, a granny pod may make more financial sense if you expect the person living there to stay for several years.

    However, it’s important to also weigh the individual’s cognitive health. Someone with dementia or in need of help with daily tasks is not a good granny pod candidate, McClanahan added.

    400-square foot ‘Granny Pods’.

    Source: Inspired Independence
    400-square foot ‘Granny Pods’.

    While older Americans are building granny pods for themselves, some also see them as a long-term solution for multigenerational living.

    “I met with this family the other night, and their adult son would live in the in-law unit but we are designing it to age in place,” said Carrie Shores, an architect with Inspired Independence in Oakland who built Baldwin’s pod.

    “When they’re tired of maintaining their home, they’ll move in there, and by that point, he may be married and have kids and move into the main house,” she added.

    For Baldwin, who just unpacked her boxes and is making her pod a home, the choice to simplify was the right one.

    Additional articles regarding Prefab home options from Dwell Magazine: