Multigenerational living may be a new development for our society, but it has long been practiced in other cultures. Creating this type of household structure allows families to come together under one roof to face the many trials of life such as raising a child, caring for elders, single parenthood, and the high cost of living and housing.
According to a recent Pew research report, nearly 1 in 5 Americans live in a multigenerational household. Student loans, lack of employment and getting married later contribute to approximately 60 million Americans living with multiple generations. The inability of many people to get back on their feet after the recession, as well as increased life longevity have also boosted demands for this type of housing. Some terms you’ll hear in association with multigenerational housing are “Sandwich Generation” and “Boomerang Kids.” Boomerang Kids are named for the adult children who choose to return to sharing a home with their parents after previously living on their own. Parents of millennials who are taking care of aging or ailing parents plus their millennial children are referred to as the Sandwich Generation.
When considering the floorplan design for these new multi-family homes, there are 2 key elements that must be included: Privacy and Flexibility. For privacy in a multigenerational home the goal is to be separate yet connected. A separate living space that is in the confines of a single family home allows for more than one generation to live together, yet still have necessary privacy.
- For aging generations such as grandparents it is ideal, and often times necessary for this separate living space to be on the main floor. Some great examples of this exist in our Shea Homes® Charlotte – Kingsley, Providence, and Grayson plans with guest suites on the outskirts of the home that are also located on the main floor.
Providence – main floor guest suite
Kingsley – main floor guest suite
Grayson – main floor guest suite
To take privacy one step further in addition to the separate living space and bathroom, having separate entrances and kitchenettes allows for added independence. Some great examples of this exist in our Hampton and Oxford.
- The Hampton features a second private entrance for it’s In-Law Suite
- The Oxford features an In-Law Suite complete with sitting room, a flexible area that could later be converted.
Hampton – main floor guest suite with semi-private entrance
Oxford – main floor In-Law suite with semi-private entrance and sitting area
When considering returning millennials privacy still plays an important role, however the level of the home that this privacy is provided on is less essential. Adding an additional owner’s suite, or adding a bathroom to an existing rec or bonus room are all feasible options.
- One of our favorite customizations was the addition of a step-up flex space off of an upstairs bedroom to be utilized by a returning adult millennial. Small storage areas are also great spaces to include.
- Turning upstairs rec or bonus rooms into a master bedroom and bathroom for a millennial (or allowing a live-in grandparent to take the original master on the main floor) is another adaptation we have seen.
- Our Alexander plan offers dual master suites – which can be an ideal design for collaboration between generations. This layout also works well for siblings or roommates.
Upstairs Bedroom with added Flex and storage space
Rec Room turned Master Bedroom
Alexander plan 1st floor
Alexander plan 2nd floor – Dual optional Owner’s Suite shown
The above plans all have one thing in common, flexibility. Flexibility in the design and versatile spaces can help to support a family as it grows and changes. If your new home is not initially multigenerational but you anticipate the possibility of welcoming other family members, here are some elements you may want to think about.
- Use 1st floor guest suites for present needs while anticipating future requirements for elderly parents. Walk in showers instead of tubs, adding grab bars, and making doorways wider will all be useful later.
- Small details like lever door handles, raised height commodes, and rocker light switches will make a difference.
- Keep elements simple and flexible so it is easy to adapt spaces as a family’s wants and needs evolve.
Families today are recognizing both the emotional and economic benefits that multigenerational housing provides. Although financial reasons are often cited as the primary motivator, living with your family can be fulfilling and enjoyable.
- Grandparents stay active and feel useful helping to care for young children.
- Adult children can save money while going to school, finding a job or saving up to buy a home of their own.
- Caring for elderly parents at home provides both financial savings and added time with them.
Families living in multigenerational homes have built-in opportunities to build stronger, mutually beneficial relationships across generations. In 2017, we anticipate the demand for housing that accommodates several generations under one roof continue to rise across all demographics and regions. With planning and foresight bringing family members together in a multigenerational home can be a joyful time to share and treasure for everyone in the family.