Nuclear family living didn’t become a “thing” until after the Great Depression. It was common for several generations to live under the same roof, or at least close by, due to the need for many hands to help with all the work.After the Great Recession of 2007, however, multi-generational living began to increase as adult children moved home to save money while they searched for a job. In modern years, health issues often forced elderly parents to move in with their adult children.
What is Multi-Generational Living?
The definition of multi-generational living, is when two or more generations of a family live under the same roof. This could be adult children living at home with their parents or it could mean aging parents living at home with their children.
Multi-Generational living With Aging Parents
Moving in an aging loved one is a common practice that allows a sense of peace for the children of aging parents because they can be in close proximity to their loved one without being overbearing. This allows the aging loved one to remain as independent as possible while still having the option for assistance when needed.
Related: Should I Build or Remodel?
Multi-Generational Living With Adult Children
Many times, young adult children are “boomeranging” back home after college or as they start their lives as an adult. Why? Often, it’s because the adult child has been laid off from their job or they trying to save money while they look for a job and get on their feet.
Multi-generational Home Options
There are multiple options when it comes to creating a home that will be shared by several generations (whether it’s two generations or three). Those include having a separate guest cottage; building in what’s commonly referred to as a “Mother-in-Law apartment”; or adding a separate entrance to an existing room in your home. Here are a few multi-generational living options:
This apartment is attached to the main house, probably by a short breezeway. It has all the amenities of a bigger house, such as a kitchen, bedroom, living area and bathroom. Both generations can have their privacy here, too. a separate space that has it's own entrance along with everything that is in a normal one-bedroom apartment.
Two Master Suites
Often, homeowners will put the two suites on opposite ends of the home or on separate floors—creating privacy for both couples. The suites include sleeping rooms and private baths, while social rooms such as the kitchen, dining room, and family room are shared.
Guest Cottage or ADU
This is a small cottage, sometimes less than 1,000 square feet. The cottage stands alone, but close to the main house. This option is great for the adult child accustomed to their privacy, so they can come and go at will. It can also work for the homeowner’s parents, especially if they still have some independence.
This is probably the simplest Wallingford home renovation to make. Just knock a hole in an outer wall of one of the bedrooms and add an exterior door. This allows the occupant of this room to be able to come and go without disturbing the other occupants of the house.
Making Multi-Generational Living Work
Whether you're contemplating building a new home or remodeling your existing home, keeping the needs of multiple generations in mind may be important—for your own family, or for the future resale of your house.
Adding additional space isn’t the only thing to consider when creating a home that works for multiple generations. You’ll want to consider how common rooms can be comfortable and safe for everyone.
Build a Multi-Generational Home
Building a new home that allows you to include the features you’ll need from the beginning might be the right thing for your multi-generational living plan. Our Totoket Grand floor plan includes the option of a study or a guest room on the main level. The advantage of this spacious room with an adjoining bathroom is that whoever occupies it (whether it’s an older family member or a younger one) has enough room, but also has privacy—without feeling cut off from the rest of the family.
Remodel a Multi-Generational Home
If you decide to remodel your current home to fit your multi-generational needs, consider adding features that will be useful to the generation that will be living with you now, but also, consider the generation that might live with you in the future. Universal design is great for aging parents and will add resale value to your home. With new remodeling techniques, aging in place remodeling can be just as beautiful as a normal remodel.
Privacy is, naturally, a big issue. Adults (young or older) want a sense of privacy and independence. That’s why an en Suite arrangement (bedroom and dedicated bathroom) is a good solution. Some homeowners even build in a sitting room or small family room to allow even more personal space. And while many families continue to enjoy meals together, some individuals include a small kitchen or kitchenette to allow even more privacy. You’ll want to consider those options before you start drawing up plans for remodeling.
The people in multi-generational homes often have different needs. Some of the easy solutions include adding grab bars in the bathrooms to add security. But you’ll also need to consider things such as mobility. Are your existing hallways wide enough to accommodate walkers or wheelchairs if they become necessary? Will older family members have to negotiate stairs—or can you come up with a plan that allows single level living for mature family members. You’ll even want to take things such as light switches into consideration.
Avoid Common Mistakes
Keep in mind that whether you build a new home or remodel your existing home, that you are doing more than simply adding space. This isn’t like any other kind of building project. You’re trying to meet the different needs of a variety of people. That’s not impossible, but it doesn’t happen without planning. It can be easy to overlook some of the challenges such as: How to protect privacy; What to do about parking if you add vehicles; Making sure everyone has access to the rooms they need; Ensuring ease of access to the home or living quarters.
You don't want to forget about the potential for increased utility usage. The water heater that adequately provides for two or three people may not be able to keep up with five or six. If you add a room in the basement or the attic, will your HVAC system be able to keep things comfortable?
Should I Have a Multi-Generational Home?
Multi-generational living can be a great thing, but before you jump in, you’ll want to make sure it’s a solution everyone buys in on. Even if it seems to make sense financially, you’ll want to make sure all the involved parties are on board. You want everyone to be comfortable in the space and feel at home. A great first step is to have everyone sit down and discuss their expectations. That also is a great time to discuss responsibilities and bills.
Think about your family dynamics. Do you generally get along well together? Do you have a history of being able to resolve conflicts comfortably? There will be adjustments. Make sure that everyone understands what those will be. It’s essential that you get everyone on the same page when it comes to expectations.
Whatever your family situation, creating a home that will work well for all of your family members isn’t something to take lightly. And it’s not something you’ll want to tackle on your own. It’s one reason you want to make sure you deal with an experienced builder who has been down this road before so that you don’t get hit with unwelcome surprises.