If you have aging parents who still want to live on their own -- but need you close by -- there's a new alternative to nursing home care.
Dubbed "granny pods," there are several companies that produce pre-fab "tiny houses" -- some specially designed with high-tech features that assist senior citizens with everyday tasks.
One company that manufactures the backyard homes is MEDCottage, a Blacksburg, Va., company. These high-tech homes are marketed as an alternative to nursing homes, and come equipped with all the amenities -- from defibrillators to pill dispensers -- you'd find in a hospital. The tiny backyard homes, which can be hooked up to the main house's water, sewer and power lines, range in price from $40,000 to upward of $100,000.
But can these cottages work on Staten Island?
The major obstacle seems to be New York City's zoning regulations, and small lot sizes.
"This concept is great. The problem is the zoning," said Claire Bisignano Chesnoff, broker/owner of the New Dorp-based Claire Properties, and president of the Staten Island Board of Realtors.
"Staten Island would never permit this type of building because each type of zoning needs specific footage for side yards, back yards, etc. The space these homes would occupy is larger than the size of the tiny homes, which could not pass zoning laws on Staten Island. I actually had a property for sale that would have been perfect for a tiny home, but even the most creative architect couldn't get around the law," she added.
Even if a zoning change was allowed, it would take many city approvals for granny pods to exist on Staten Island.
"If someone wanted to have this on Staten Island, the New York City Department of Buildings would get involved and they would want to know about everything from plumbing to electric and sewer," said Jon Salmon, broker/owner of Salmon Real Estate in Castleton Corners.
Some Realtors said many of the Island's seniors wouldn't be happy living in a granny pod.
"Our seniors are pretty active and I don't see that these people will want a studio. It looks like a glorified shed," said Laura Volsario, a Realtor with Gateway Arms Realty in St. George.