If you’re planning to buy a home in the near future, you might be running into listings that mention a casita as one of the home’s features. What is a casita, exactly, and how does it affect the value of a property? Furthermore, if you’re considering building a casita next to your house, what do you need to know first?
Wait, What is a Casita?
Literally speaking, “casita” translates from Spanish to “cottage” or “little house.” Some people refer to it as a carriage house, pool house, mother-in-law suite, guesthouse, or accessory dwelling unit (ADU). They are detached from the main property and thus offer private entry. Casitas typically include a bathroom and kitchen (or at least a kitchenette). So, someone could feasibly live in a casita without ever stepping foot inside the main house. It offers freedom, privacy, and independence — much more than your standard, in-house guest room.
Casitas first started popping up back in the 1920s. Their initial purpose was as a smaller living space for laborers. Historically, they were popular features for homes that were built with a Mediterranean aesthetic. However, they’ve evolved over the years and now come in all sorts of designs and aesthetics.
While they’re especially prominent in the southwest — including Las Vegas — you can find casitas all over.
Casitas in the Modern Day
In the past, casitas were built out of necessity. That’s still partly the case these days, but they’ve also become more of a luxury.
Families will often utilize casitas to give older children a private space of their own, or to invite extended family (like parents) to come live with them. Casitas can also serve as an awesome space for temporary guests.
They aren’t limited to serving as living quarters, either. Casitas can be decorated as a detached home office, a pool house, a separate workout area, or studio. In an age where we’re spending more time than ever at home, this flexibility is a huge plus.
There’s no rule when it comes to how big casitas can be. They’re not as big as the main house. That being said, the bigger the house, the bigger the casita. Roughly speaking, the average casita will clock in somewhere between 500 and 1,200 square feet.
Why Should I Care About a Casita?
If you’re shopping for a new house and run into a property with a casita, you should pause to consider a few things.
- Do you have kids, or are you planning on expanding your family?
- Do you get a lot of visitors?
- Do you work from home, where turning a casita into a designated office might come in handy?
- Are you considering renting the space out as an investment property to earn passive income?
Aside from asking yourself these questions, you should also consider the resale value of a home with a casita. Even if you plan on staying in this house for a long time, if and when you do decide to sell it, a casita is an attractive addition to prospective buyers and can allow you to significantly increase the purchase price of the home.
What About Building a Casita from Scratch?
Maybe you have a home without a casita but the space to add one. Should you?
First, you need to check your city’s zoning and building laws and regulations. If the community has a homeowners’ association, you also need to get permission from them. If you’re able to move forward, keep in mind that you’ll likely need to submit all of your plans, acquire the proper permits, and abide by things like water lines, sewer connections, and fire safety. Even though you own the property and do have a lot of freedom, you don’t technically have the final say.
Then there’s the financial aspect to consider. Indeed, building a casita is an investment. A casita has its own walls and floors, plumbing, and electrical. It’s different from adding an attached room to the main home. It, quite literally, entails building a separate, smaller house.
You also want to try to calculate the return on your investment. True, you can’t predict everything, because there’s no guarantee what your home will sell for in the future. However, you want to consider things like this:
- Roughly how much would the casita of your dreams cost you to build?
- Approximately how much will it cost to maintain on a monthly basis? Think of utilities like heating and cooling, electricity, and water.
- What do you plan to do with it? If you intend to rent it out, how much will the monthly rent be, and how long will it take you to recoup your investment? If you don’t yet know what you’d do with it, you’d need to design the casita to be as multifunctional as possible.
While we can’t give you an exact cost, building a casita might range from $100 to $600 per square foot. Remember that this won’t include any upfront costs, like permits. It also doesn’t include additional long-term costs like taxes, utilities, maintenance, and insurance.
If all of these considerations sound like more effort than they’re worth, then building a casita might not be the best choice for you — and that’s okay! However, if you’ve got the money to work with, have secured the necessary permission, and feel confident in your plans for what you plan to do with your casita, then you might be on the right track.
If you’re on the lookout for your dream house and a casita is on your list of must-haves, we can help. Contact the team at The Brendan King Group today and let’s get to work.