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Barrier Free In-Law Suite

Tom Schiebout, President of Tomco Company, Inc. located in Andover, MN, takes us through his process of assessing, recommending and creating a barrier free in-law suite:

I remember when Jon and Candace first called me. Candace’s parents in Kenosha were not physically capable of taking care of themselves and the help they had hired to check in on them and bring them food everyday were not reliable. Jon  and Candace felt helpless.

Their parents health was rapidly deteriorating and they believed their only options were to move them to a nursing home or to have them move in with them in St. Paul.

Not wanting to “shuffle them off to another unknown care situation” they decided to look into their second option. They knew that some kind of modification would have to be done on their home to make it work. All the bedrooms were on the 2nd level and they only had a small 1/4 bath on the main level.

We did a walk-through assessment of their home identifying all the ways it could (or could not) be modified to accommodate everyone’s needs. Stair lifts to the second level or basement in the house were ruled out because of the narrow stairs and hallway. The living room was regularly used by the household so to turn it into a temporary bedroom was out. One last possible area was an existing narrow, three season porch that bumped right up to the side boundary setback. We all agreed this was our best option.

Barrier free in-law has private safe living suite.
Barrier free in-law has private safe living suite.

Next, we needed to figure out how to make it safe, provide independence to their parents and imagine how it would fit everyone’s needs five or ten years later. Look at how this new space would integrate with the rest of the household. And what could be done in the amount of space available and their budget.

We re-designed the existing porch and added only a small addition to the footprint. We ably created an accessible bath, bedroom and sitting area. Adding a convenient main floor laundry center and a full basement — giving them extra space for their teenagers to hangout. An accessible patio and entry gave their parents independence. 

Jon and Candace are thrilled with their addition especially since it “fits” the house and their neighborhood.


Tomco Company, Inc. located in Andover, Minnesota serves the Minneapolis – St. Paul region. AIP Bulletin readers located in their service area are eligible for a complimentary consultation ($200 value). Call them at 763-434-1522 to schedule an assessment.

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Cottages at Greenwood: Green, Universal and Affordable

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This universal design kitchen features motorized and manually adjustable counter segments and several different fixed height counter top areas give work options for a variety of tasks to people of all heights, those with back trouble, people who are seated, and/or children.
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