Guest Houses and their counterparts, ADUs (accessory dwelling units), have exploded in popularity across the country over the past couple of years. Many homeowners see these small, separate homes on their properties as a creative solution to multi-generational housing or a way to bring in some extra mortgage payments. According to an article by KCRA news, guest houses have been the fuel that has helped the housing market boom upwards of over 120% over the last few years.

Many families are interested in supplementing their incomes to help pay for larger home purchases, and the guest house has proven to be the key to that. Whether using it for long-term rentals or turning it into something short-term, like an Airbnb, the financial benefits alone are very attractive.

Determining your guest house goals

There are several ways you can utilize a guest house. You can host visitors, generate rental income, or have a space for personal use, such as remote work or for creating art.

Personal use and lifestyle enhancement

You can enhance your lifestyle by building a guest home for personal use. These smaller homes can act as your own private retreat, as a home office, a workout room, and a creative space where you can focus without distractions. Imagine you had a serene spot in your home for meditation or somewhere quiet where you could focus undisturbed on your work. You could even use the space to paint, build, or play music. If you require space for yourself, building a guest house is a clever option to improve your daily life.

Generating rental income

A guest home can be a great source of consistent rental income. Many websites, such as Airbnb, have made it incredibly easy for homeowners to rent out their spaces to travelers. Once you sign up, sites like these make collecting payments and pairing you up with guests easy. You can gain a lot of potential earnings from running a short-term rental. A good weekend or two can cover entire mortgage payments, depending on where you live and the time of year. Short-term rentals come with added work to manage them. If you’re too busy for that, a long-term rental is also a lucrative possibility. There are tools like the Vrbo Pricing Tool that can help you with prices.

Considerations for renting out

If you do consider renting out your guest house, there are several factors you’ll want to consider first. You’ll want to understand the rental market in your area, such as the demand, the expected amount of rent, and what amenities are generally included. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve met any regulations your municipality sets.

There’s some work to be done if you’re going to become a landlord, short-term rental host, or property manager. Some differences and expectations accompany each one, so be sure you’ve researched which avenue looks right for you.

Balancing guest needs and personal preferences

You’ll want to consider what a potential renter for your guest house would need before you build, but you’ll also want to consider your own needs. How will a renter access the home – through a side gate? Would the renter have AC, heat, and useful appliances like a washer, dryer, or dishwasher?

When a renter isn’t occupying it, you also want the home to function for your own needs. If you need a space to work out, then you’ll wish the guest house to accommodate that. If you need a practice space for the band, you might want extra soundproofing in the walls.

Checking zoning regulations and permits

Before you start building your guest house, it’s crucial to understand local zoning regulations and permit requirements. Each municipality has its own rules regarding auxiliary buildings, and you’ll need to obtain the necessary approvals before starting construction. Ignoring this step can lead to serious legal complications and could even force you to halt construction mid-way. Even if your zoning looks good from the city’s perspective, your local homeowner’s association may have its own dictations to follow.

The last thing you want is for your guest house to waste space, half constructed, because you didn’t do the legwork beforehand. That’s money lost, both in time and legalese dealing with the municipality – because an unbuilt guest home isn’t generating the income you wanted.

Budgeting and financial planning

A guest house can cost an average of $200,000 for a detached unit. While this figure can be less for something like a garage conversion, construction projects have a way of adding up. Not only do you need to properly build the house, but you also need to furnish it and keep it maintained for your guests. Remember, any needed repairs are your responsibility, so it’s smart to set aside a healthy contingency fund.

Enhancing safety in your guest house: The role of home security systems

As a responsible homeowner, ensuring the safety and security of your guest house should be a top priority. In today’s technologically advanced world, integrating home security systems has become an effective way to protect your property and the well-being of your guests.

The Importance of home security systems:

  1. Deterrence of intruders: Home security systems act as a powerful deterrent to potential intruders. Visible surveillance cameras, motion sensors, and alarm systems send a clear message that your guest house is equipped with protective measures, discouraging any unauthorized entry.
  2. Emergency response: In the unfortunate event of a break-in or emergency situation, home security systems provide a swift response. Alarm systems can automatically notify local authorities, ensuring a timely intervention to mitigate potential risks and safeguard your guests and property.
  3. Protection of valuables: Guest houses often contain valuable items such as electronics, furniture, and personal belongings. A comprehensive security system helps protect these assets, giving both you and your guests peace of mind during their stay.
  4. Remote monitoring: Modern home security systems offer remote monitoring capabilities, allowing you to keep an eye on your guest house even when you are not physically present. Accessing live video feeds, checking entry logs, and receiving alerts on your mobile device provide an extra layer of control and awareness.

Designing and constructing the guest house


Once you’ve set your goals, obtained the necessary permits, and squared away your finances, the exciting part begins – designing and constructing your guest house. This is where you can let your creativity flow and create a space that reflects your vision.

Plan the layout and functionality

There are several types of guest houses, and your needs may help you identify which is right for you. You can convert your garage or your basement into a living suite, which is often considerably cheaper than a stand-alone unit, but changes how potential guests view the property. You can build a stand-alone home detached from your property, or if you want to potentially save some money, buy a prefabricated standalone guest house.

When considering what type of home you need, think about the amenities you want in the home. Consider what the layout would look like once fully furnished and how comfortable the guests will be. Comfort, privacy, and convenience can make your guest house very attractive to renters or be a welcome addition for your own personal use.

Guest comfort and amenities

If you’re thinking about comfort, first consider what anyone needs for a functional home. They’ll need a fridge and an oven, as well as heat (and likely AC). They’ll need a working bathroom, with at least a shower. These are just the basics, but once you really consider guest comfort, there’s a bit more to it.

In a bedroom, can a queen size bed fit inside comfortably? What about a desk? What space is there for a closet and a dresser? In the kitchen, will your guests have a dishwasher or have to do the dishes by hand? Is there access to laundry machines, or do they have to use a laundromat? These creature comforts make a big difference in setting your rental prices.

Incorporating aesthetics and style

Beyond guest functionality, the aesthetics of the home are also important. A number of popular designs are suitable for guest homes, such as rustic, coastal, contemporary, or minimalist. Check out the characteristics and elements of each to land on a great style to suit your needs and tastes.

Choosing color schemes and palettes

Color schemes can make a massive difference in a space. Pops of color can liven things up but can also be jarring if done poorly. Neutral tones can be attractive and functional. If your guest home is for personal use, consider whether that space is for work or art. Your color palette will bolster the room’s feel, so choose wisely.

Lighting design and ambiance

Lighting makes a big difference in the mood and ambiance of your home. Warm, soft lights from lamps can make things feel cozy, while natural lighting and intelligently placed ceiling lights can brighten up any space. Use ambient, task, and accent lighting to alter and effectively create a perfect space inside your guest home.

Selecting furnishings and decor

Your furniture can complement the home and your design choices. Consider what color your furnishings are and how they look compared to the design of the home. If you choose to mostly use lamps in your décor, perhaps some boho-style furniture is the perfect fit to match it. If you went with neutral tones, a gray couch may be just what you need. The right piece of art can do amazing things to transform a space from mundane to comfortable.

Creating a welcoming atmosphere

Creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere in your guest house involves several thoughtful details. Textiles like rugs, throws, custom curtains, and cushions can provide warmth and comfort. Personal touches make a difference; consider leaving a welcome note or providing a selection of books and games. Incorporate natural elements like plants or flowers for a fresh ambiance.

Incorporating sustainable features

Incorporating sustainable features into your guest house is an eco-friendly approach and a step towards a cost-effective and energy-efficient living space. This approach requires thoughtful planning and a focus on sustainable materials, energy efficiency, and water conservation.

Sustainable materials and construction practices

There are many great ways to incorporate sustainable materials while constructing your guest home. This is especially true regarding finishing touches, such as baseboards, countertops, and windowsills. Consider recycled or reclaimed materials, and explore some environmentally friendly construction practices, such as proper waste management. The smallest differences can make big changes over time.

Harnessing renewable energy sources

While building your guest house, this is the perfect time to incorporate renewable energy sources. Solar energy, or even wind if you live in the right location, may not be enough to power your home, but it can make a huge difference in your power bill.

Water conservation measures

Another way to save on bills, and help the environment, is to use water conservation methods in your new guest house. Low-flow fixtures like dual-flush toilets, rainwater harvesting systems, and drought-resistant landscaping can greatly lower your water use. This helps your wallet and the world’s water supply simultaneously.

Other tips

Creating a home that resembles a Pinterest board is a dream for many home decor enthusiasts. To start this exciting journey, clean up your Pinterest boards, ensuring they reflect your current style and lifestyle. While it’s fun to fantasize about that coastal-style living room, practicality is key – white decor might not be ideal with kids and red juice. When turning your home into a Pinterest-worthy haven, begin with the major elements like bed frames and dressers, ensuring they fit your available space. Don’t stress over replicating layouts exactly; adapt to your home’s unique features. Harmony in color hues is essential; pick decor items in the same color family to create a cohesive look across rooms.

Remember the 60-30-10 rule for a balanced color palette. Differentiating between trendy and timeless pieces is crucial. Invest in timeless furniture, while incorporating trendy accents that can be easily swapped out. Your Pinterest board is your inspiration, but your home should reflect your unique style. So, start your journey, and don’t forget to share your beautiful results on social media for all to admire!

Maintenance and management

Ongoing maintenance and management are crucial for your guest home’s longevity and overall appeal. You’ll want to ensure the home is deeply cleaned regularly. This not only repels insects and pests but also helps you ensure the home remains in good standing and continues to function as needed.

Routine inspections are vital to identify any potential problems before they escalate into major repair jobs. From checking the functionality of appliances to the state of the roof and the structural integrity of the building, these inspections can limit the number of nasty surprises that may be in store. Regular maintenance tasks include gutter cleaning, servicing heating, and cooling systems, checking the roof for damage, and sealing cracks or gaps that could lead to drafts or water leaks.

A solid maintenance schedule, as well as prompt repairs if ever needed, will ensure the guest home remains in good condition for years to come. Proper maintenance and repair is a cost that’s easy to skip, but you’re only doing yourself a disservice if you don’t upkeep your investment.

Building a guest house can be an exciting and lucrative adventure. With an intelligent budget, a solid plan, and some creative ideas, you can create a functional, appealing space that serves all your needs. Before you build, make sure you check into the zoning laws, as well as the licensing you’ll require. You’ll also want to bolster your home insurance to cover renters and liability.

Once you have everything in place, your guest home can be a solid investment. There are challenges, but the rewards can be lucrative, and it’s never been easier to attract renters or get the information you need to make wise decisions. Build a space to suit your needs – you’ll be glad you did.