Different generations living in the same household is by no means a new concept. In fact, there is evidence of this tradition throughout history and in some cultures it is the complete norm. Defined as a home which includes two or more adult generations, multi-generational living allows for grandparents, parents and children to experience life together. Americans, however, had moved away from this lifestyle for several decades before the economic downturn in the mid-2000’s resulted in returning to the housing trend this country had not seen since the 1940’s.
When the loss of jobs, high unemployment rates, and the housing crisis began in 2007, younger generations were all but forced to move back home with their parents, often bringing spouses and their own children with them. While these arrangements may have originated from a financial need, it was not long before people realized the additional benefits. We have all heard the saying “It takes a village…” and how convenient it is when that village is centrally located in your home! The need for two incomes, the rising cost of childcare, the desire for a better work/life balance-all of these things further supported and encouraged the continuation of multi-generational households. It may have been years since the downturn ended but this trend does not seem to be changing. Recent surveys show that almost a quarter of the American population is living in a multigenerational home and that number is only going to continue to climb.
Two years ago, I became part of that statistic when we built our current home and included an in-law suite for my father-in-law. Circumstances supported that he would live with us a portion of the year allowing him to spend time with his grandchildren, save money on living expenses, and expand his social activity opportunities. When we made this decision, a variety of questions popped into our minds which included privacy, convenience, and logistics. It was important that my father-in-law have his own entry to come and go as his schedule dictated and that he have the living spaces needed to best suit his lifestyle; however, there were so many more factors that we did not even think to consider.
As a custom builder, we cater to the needs and wants of our clients. In fact, that is our passion and our priority: to find our buyers the home of their life. If that life involves multiple generations then we look for options and features to enhance the comfort and convenience for each family member.
In years past, the largest concern when building a multi-generational home was the issue of stairs. While stairs are still discussed, families have become more and more aware of lifestyle changes when merging different generations under the same roof. These conversations have prompted our design team to begin a dynamic list of ideas to consider when we build a multi-generational home, including:
- Evaluating the home site with consideration to the number of steps and possible ramp locations
- Determining whether an elevator, if needed, can work within the plan
- The Location of bedrooms and bathrooms. At minimum, a first-floor guest suite but two masters (one up and one down) are a plus if space allows.
- Installing blocking in shower walls to add grab bars later
- Keeping hallways wide and install at least 2’6” doors to bedrooms and baths wherever possible for wheelchair consideration
- Allowing for additional space in bathrooms when possible (room for walkers around cabinetry and toilets)
- Adding medicine cabinets instead of regular mirrors for ease of toiletry access
- Install large cabinet pantries and large drawers in the kitchen to conveniently access bulkier items such as heavy pots and pans.
- Utilizing pulls on cabinet doors rather than knobs and lever door handles on all interior doors
- Researching technology considerations such as Alexa which allows the more mature generations to set medication reminders, listen to audio books, and control lights and thermostats. This resource also functions as a communication tool as parents and children can check in via camera throughout the day
- Educating on smart appliances such as Samsung’s Smart Hub refrigerator which has introduced another way for people to keep up with busy schedules by posting information, notes, reminders, and grocery lists on the refrigerator door screen
- Considering sound dampening options when determining your floor plan
- Adding Kitchenette or wet bar features (keep in mind that zoning laws must be researched for this option as some municipalities only allow one kitchen in a home)
So, whether you are considering a multi-generational living situation for financial, practical or even cultural reasons know that there are plenty of options available to make for a smooth transition and to help ensure comfort and convenience for each generation.
For more information on how you can find “The Home of Your Life” whether you have multi-generational needs or needs for just your generation, please contact us at 919-917-3132 or info@HomesByDickerson.com