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  • Writer's pictureKathy Condon

Constructing a Guest House Essential Considerations


A child with a flower hat peeking over a bush while exploring a neighborhood.
A child exploring the neighborhood at a guest house. Photo by Kathy Condon

Guest Post by Paula Hernandez of Porch


Palm Springs has seen a large growth in guest houses (We call them casitas in Palm Springs). Thus, I felt this article would be helpful to my readers considering reconfiguring or building a guest house on their property.


The popularity of guest houses and accessory dwelling units (ADUs) has surged across the nation in recent years. Homeowners are increasingly viewing these separate, compact homes on their properties as innovative solutions for multi-generational living or as a means to generate extra income. In fact, according to a report by KCRA news, the proliferation of building guest houses has played a pivotal role in driving the housing market's growth by over 120% in the last few years.

For many families, the prospect of supplementing their income by renting out a guest house, whether for long-term or short-term stays like Airbnb, holds undeniable financial allure. The potential benefits of constructing a guest house are both diverse and attractive.

Defining Guest House Objectives

Guest houses can serve various purposes, from hosting visitors to generating rental income or providing personal space for work and creativity.

A view of guest house under trees in Fallsbrook with lots of trees around it.
Ocean Breeze Airbnb in Fallsbrook California Photo Courtesy of Ocean Breeze

Enhancing Your Lifestyle

Imagine having a serene sanctuary within your property, a private retreat, a home office, a fitness area, or an inspirational space for focused endeavors. A guest house can significantly enhance your daily life by offering a distraction-free environment for meditation, work, art, or other personal pursuits.

Generating Rental Income

Turning your guest house into a reliable source of rental income is an enticing prospect. Platforms like Airbnb have streamlined the process of renting out spaces to travelers, potentially covering your entire mortgage with just a few weekend bookings. However, managing short-term rentals can be demanding, so long-term rentals are also a viable option to consider.

Important Considerations for Building a Guest House if You Are Going to Renting Out


Before venturing into rental hosting, it's crucial to assess the rental market's dynamics in your area, understand pricing expectations, and ensure compliance with local regulations. Becoming a landlord, a short-term rental host, or a property manager each entails distinct responsibilities and expectations, necessitating thorough research to determine the right path for you.

Balancing Guest and Personal Needs

While designing your guest house, it's essential to consider both your potential renters' needs and your personal preferences. Questions about accessibility, amenities like air conditioning and appliances, workout space, and soundproofing for your own use need careful consideration.

Three burros looking over the fence at Tres Burros Ranch in Yucca Valley.
Tres Burros Ranch in Yucca Valley Photo Courtesy of Jeff Drozd

Navigating Zoning Regulations and Permits

Before embarking on the construction of your guest house, it's imperative to grasp the local zoning regulations and permitting requirements. Each municipality has its own rules for auxiliary structures, and non-compliance can lead to legal complications and project interruptions. Homeowner's associations may also impose additional guidelines.

Budgeting and Financial Planning

Constructing a guest house can incur substantial costs, averaging around $200,000 for a detached unit. A contingency fund is advisable to cover unforeseen expenses and repairs. Moreover, obtaining a home warranty can provide protection against unexpected breakdowns, ensuring a worry-free hosting experience.

Design and Construction

Once you've defined your goals, secured the necessary permits, and organized your finances, the exciting phase of designing and constructing your guest house commences. This stage allows your creativity to flourish, shaping a space that aligns with your vision.


Planning Layout and Functionality

The type of guest house you choose will depend on your needs and budget. Options range from converting existing spaces like garages or basements to constructing standalone units. Deliberate on the layout and how furnishings will fit, ensuring comfort, privacy, and convenience.

Guest Comfort and Amenities


When you embark on the design journey for your guest house, it's crucial to prioritize guest comfort and consider a range of essential amenities that can make their stay enjoyable and memorable.

Bedroom Space

One of the first aspects to contemplate is the size and layout of the bedroom. A spacious and well-arranged bedroom can significantly enhance the guest's experience. Think about whether a queen-sized bed comfortably fits, leaving room for additional furniture like a desk, closet, and dresser. Providing ample storage space ensures your guests can keep their belongings organized during their stay.

Kitchen Facilities

A well-equipped kitchenette can be a game-changer for guests. Consider outfitting it with essential appliances such as a refrigerator, oven, and microwave. Offering these amenities allows your guests to prepare meals and snacks at their convenience, enhancing their overall experience and potentially extending their stay.

Bathroom Convenience

Ensuring your guest house has a fully functional bathroom is non-negotiable. A shower, toilet, and sink are the bare necessities. Beyond that, consider providing quality toiletries, plush towels, and adequate storage for personal items. A clean and well-stocked bathroom is often a major factor in guest satisfaction.

Laundry Facilities

Integrating a washer and dryer into your guest house can be a significant draw if space allows. Travelers often appreciate the convenience of being able to do their laundry, especially for extended stays. Additionally, offering this amenity can distinguish your rental from others in the area.

Temperature Control

Adequate heating and cooling systems are vital for year-round comfort. Ensure your guest house has reliable climate control options, such as central heating and air conditioning. Guests should have the ability to adjust the temperature to their liking, providing them with a comfortable environment regardless of the season.

Creature Comforts in a Guest House

Beyond the basics, consider additional creature comforts that can set your guest house apart. Soft, inviting furnishings like plush rugs, cozy throws, and comfortable cushions can create a warm and inviting atmosphere. Providing thoughtful touches like a selection of books, games, or a welcome note can leave a lasting positive impression on your guests.

Picture of bar at the Auto Haus Airbnb in Fallsbrook
Bar at the Auto Haus Airbnb Photo Courtesy of Marge Sturges

Outdoor Amenities

If your property allows for it, outdoor amenities can be a delightful addition. A private patio, garden seating, or a barbecue area can enhance the overall experience and provide guests with opportunities for relaxation and enjoyment of the surrounding environment.

Incorporating Aesthetics and Style

Aesthetic choices, such as rustic, coastal, contemporary, or minimalist designs, can elevate the guest house's appeal. A thoughtful selection of color schemes, lighting, furnishings, and decor can enhance the space's ambiance and functionality.

Sustainability Features

Embracing sustainability is not only eco-friendly but also cost-effective. Utilize sustainable materials, explore renewable energy sources like solar, and incorporate water-saving measures to reduce utility costs and environmental impact.

Maintenance and Management

Ensuring your guest house's long-term viability and appeal requires ongoing maintenance and proactive management. Regular cleaning, inspections, and timely repairs are essential to safeguard your investment.

Building a guest house can be an exciting and rewarding endeavor when approached thoughtfully. Prioritize zoning compliance, budgeting, and a home warranty for financial security. By focusing on design, amenities, sustainability, and maintenance, you can create a guest house that meets your needs and offers a lucrative investment opportunity. The challenges are real, but your guest house can become valuable with the right planning and effort.


The Palm Springs Insider Guide is published by Kathy Condon, a Journalist and Travel Writer, covering luxury experiences and communities living in the shadows of larger cities. kathy@kathycondon.net


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Convidado:
18 de set. de 2023
Avaliado com 5 de 5 estrelas.

Excellent info. Love this! I did this 10 years. By creating an apartment in basement…definitely good idea.

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