New home construction w/short term rental plans

7 Replies

Hey all, my wife and I are in the planning phase of building a new house for our family. I'm firmly convinced we can build an apartment above the garage and rent it out short term - airbnb, vrbo, etc... Any suggestions on what I should and shouldn't do in planning this? 

We live 20 minutes to the Pro Football Hall of Fame (They're spending $500 million dollars to expand the HOF so that it's a major destination). My property is secluded, in the woods, it overlooks a waterfall and yet is only 5 minutes from the downtown area. It's also within 20 minutes of Smucker's and Goodyear headquarters. 

Initially we're planning to add a 1 bedroom apartment above the garage. If all goes well, we could build another short term rental next to our garage or put one in our pole barn/garage area. 

I'll take any suggestions, but I'm assuming there'll be more questions for me than suggestions initially. Thanks. 

I think this is a great idea.  Is your wife on board with this idea?:).

I guess one suggestion I have since you are in the early stages would be to design it so you still have some privacy for you and your family.  The last thing you want are your guests all over your property 24/7 in the areas where you want to be with your family.  I'm sure your guests would appreciate that as well.   Is that garage going to be attached or detached?  

@Matt Kauffman - I think your plan makes a lot of sense. A few considerations:

- a "tiny house" can be a flexible and very economical way to get a second unit on your property. Many people are intrigued by these new units and willing to pay to stay in them. Many tiny houses come mounted on a trailer so they can be moved in the future. And they typically cost way less than building a second unit.

- If you go the route you're proposing, check out the local regulations and zoning restrictions on "in-law" units (also called Accessory Dwelling Units or ADU's). You probably need a permit.

- consider adding a hot tub or other "wow" feature that will make your place stand out from others in the area.

Best of luck!

@Matt Kauffman I like this idea and it would be great to have a blank slate to design from.  Based upon your profile it looks as if you're a real estate agent, so I will assume you've done your cash on cash due diligence for this addition to your new home. Make sure to check your local municipalities for any legal issues/challenges.  I would also do your homework in regards to rental rates and what I like to call "KPI's" (Key Performance Indicators) for your venture.  Look to a tool like (not .com) for Airbnb occupancy, rates, etc. Once you complete these items and feel confident about this addition to your home, then comes the design phase.  How much square footage can you build over your garage?  Since you are near the HOF, is your demographic families or individuals?  You mention Smuckers and Goodyear - so are business people a target audience as well?  Are you planning to be an active or passive host, e.g., greet your guests or give them private access?  Is the garage attached or detached from the rest of your home?  I'm sure there are many more questions and answers to be had, but this might give us some additional details.


@Ethan Cooke Thanks for the suggestions. I have some looking to do from a zoning standpoint for sure. I am guessing, but my new house is in a no zoning township in my county, so I don't think I'm going to have any issues with zoning restrictions. I have a waterfall out back of the house, so they would have access to sit out back and listen to the waterfall. I think that's kinda cool and unique. 

@Michael Greenberg I am not a Real Estate agent, but I do own several rental properties. I've been wanting to figure out how well short term rentals do in my area and haven't figured it out. I'm hoping your website suggestion is right on. My garage will be at least 30x30 - so I've got a little less than 900sqft due to dormers, that I can build to, however I'm going to use some of that space for my office. I'm a salesman that travels several states for work and I am thinking that I can tap into traveling business men and women who need a place to stay. The HOF is going to be a bigger draw in a few years, but not quite yet. However, I think for the cost of the build vs what I think I can rent it for, my money will be best used for a 1 or 2  bedroom apartment. More market research will tell me if it's worth the extra money for the second bedroom. The plan would be to have outside entrance to the unit, separate from the main house. The garage will be attached, but I think if I put my office next to it and insulate it well, we'll have several rooms including the office between the rental unit and the rest of the main house. I'd like to be both an active and passive host, if I'm not there, then they can access the place without needing me, but if I'm around I like meeting people. I am not a fan of having to hand off keys, so giving them lock codes would be preferred.

@Bob Woelfel I've been kicking around the attached/detached garage thing. I need to see how it would look both ways. I don't and wife doesn't want to have to walk outside of our garage to get into our house. So the question is can you make it an attached/detached garage for privacy. We do need to think through the outside space of my property and how much they'll have access too. this is not so much that we'll feel intruded on, but I have 4 young kids and I know my youngest two will want to play 20 questions with everyone. My wife is definitely on board with this idea. Which is why i'm so excited about it. I need to do some more market research and see which places locally are fuller with more regularity, the smaller, single room places to the entire house places. 

@Matt Kauffman -  I agree that a waterfall is unique and will appeal to nature lovers.  Imagine listening to the waterfall from a hot tub! :-) 

Two more suggestions: 

1. Check out (not .com).  It's a great company that provides in-depth analytics  on profitability of Airbnb rentals in many different geographic areas for a fee.  Given  that you are fairly certain about your location, it's probably worth the fee. 

2. Contact short-term rental owners through Airbnb, and other STR websites. Many of them will be happy to speak with you about their occupancy rates, rental rates, gross income from short-term rentals, etc.

@Ethan Cooke I've thought about contacting other owners about their rentals inquire, but was uncomfortable with inquiring through the websites that book their spaces only to ask them questions about their occupancy and such. guess I'll give it a shot.