If hosting is something you do often and take seriously, and if you have the space on your property, one option to consider is a stand alone guest house.

At James River Construction (JRC)

Everyone wants to be a good host or hostess when welcoming house guests, and a luxurious guest suite is a great way to do that.

But for large groups or long-term stays, sometimes having everyone in one house can be a bit much. If hosting is something you do often and take seriously, and if you have the space on your property, one option to consider is a stand-alone guest house.

An experienced contractor can help you design a structure that matches the architectural style of your main home.

Over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in clients looking to create a fully separated space on their property for a variety of reasons including a “home away from home office,” pool house, garage and game room or guest house. The tiny house trend doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon, and lots of prefabricated options have popped up online. However, having an experienced contractor build your stand-alone structure will ensure its durability and adherence to any local zoning requirements in your city. A licensed contractor will also be able to design a structure that architecturally and aesthetically works well with your main home and is customized to meet your needs.


The benefits of a separated guest suite are plentiful, but perhaps the most compelling is privacy for both the homeowner and the guest. This is especially helpful when your guests have small children with specific sleep schedules, or for guests who have an alternative schedule to your own. That small distance of separation can be the difference between an enjoyable visit and an unfortunate burden.

For many families, multi-generational living is becoming more common. As parents age, they are opting to move in with their adult children, often helping with the care of their grandchildren. For longer-term “guests” such as this, maintaining a feeling of independence is key. A separated structure can provide a sense of autonomy and privacy that can make this new blended family situation work well for everyone.

Having a separated guest suite may also make it easier for furry visitors to come along as well.

If a home is in a desirable or destination location, a stand-alone guest suite can also be used as short-term rental accommodations. Whether it’s tourists, college students or people just passing through, a separate structure can be a great way to generate additional income while continuing to serve as a landing place for your own guests when needed.

A peripheral benefit to having a guest suite that isn’t in your main home may be that it’s easier to keep clean and tidy. When a space isn’t accessible to you at all times, it’s less likely to collect random items and clutter like guest rooms often do. This means that when guests show up at the last minute, you aren’t scrambling to make a space presentable for them. A stand-alone guest suite can also be multi-purpose, functioning as a home office, home gym or the kids’ hangout space as well.

When you don’t see the guest suite every day, it may be easier to keep neat and tidy!

A kitchenette is a great addition to any guest suite, so you don’t have to play host and cook.


The first thing to consider and investigate is whether your city zoning regulations, as well as any POA or HOA rules, allow you to permit and build a separate structure on your property. An experienced and licensed contractor will be able to help you navigate the permitting process if you are, in fact, able to build.

Keep in mind you will need separate plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems, which should be installed by licensed contractors and professionals. A licensed contractor can also help in designing a structure that is both durable and architecturally consistent with your home. Consider investing in WiFi extenders or an additional router/internet connection, especially if you plan on using the space in any sort of office capacity as well.

To provide your guests with even more amenities and independence, consider including a kitchenette if there’s space. A simple apartment-sized refrigerator, microwave, stove top burner and a dedicated kitchen sink along with cabinets for dishes and cookware means you don’t have to be both a host and a cook for the whole visit. If there’s space, a small cafe table or bar top for eating at is a great addition.

Having a washer and dryer available to guests provides next-level amenities.

To really step up your guests’ experience, a small laundry room is also a great addition to your guest suite. This is especially appealing for long-term guests, guests with small children and short-term renters. Apartment sized washers and dryers are available if space is limited. Include easy to add yet special touches like extra detergent, a laundry basket, and drying rack.

Finally, consider how the structure will be accessible so that it is convenient for you and your guests. If you have a pool or other landscape feature, how will the structure work around or with that? Will there be direct access to the main house, garage, driveway, etc.? Thoughtful design up front will go a long way in making your guests feel like they are truly in a home away from home.