Dear Monica: We want to find a property that has room for a secondary unit for my parents to live in. This is difficult to find within local zoning laws and our budget. Do you have any advice? Jenny M.

Dear Jenny: Many cities and towns are expanding their zoning laws to make it easier to add a second unit to residential property, even properties zoned for single family homes. If a property has reached the maximum allowable square footage for the lot size, you will have to find space for an in-law unit within the existing structure. It may be possible to convert a garage to living space but check with the local laws about this. Some cities require a residence to have at least one covered parking space while other cities allow all parking spaces to be uncovered. There are also limits on the size a second unit can be as well as other rules. Check the local zoning laws for guidance.