Multi generational homes are becoming increasingly popular as families want to care for their aging grandparents or elderly parents at home as long as they can before their loved ones need to move to assisted living. These homes are also perfect for families who have adult children who want to live with their parents. Or they can even be used for other loved ones, friends, or family members.
A custom home builder can help walk you through the building process to help you find the perfect multi-generational home for your family’s specific needs.
Many people are finding there are countless benefits to having two, three, or even four generations together under the same roof.
Generations can pool resources financially to have a much more comfortable, luxurious home together than they could separately. It is much less expensive to maintain one residence than two (or more). The various adults in the home can split utilities, housing costs, yard maintenance, and many other shared living expenses.
Great-grandparents, grandparents, parents, and children can develop a rich bond together as they live together, especially if they have a living arrangement that is well-designed for each person’s specific needs, personality, and preferences. They have so many more opportunities to interact, connect, and really get to know and love each other well.
This situation is not ideal for every family. But for those who are able to get along relatively well, it can be a blessing to every generation.
Better division of labor
Multiple generation living can be a blessing to grandparents who get to see their grandchildren much more and maybe can even want to help with mentoring, homework, and child care. It’s also a blessing for adult children and their parents to be able to help each other with chores, cooking, shopping, pet-sitting, technology issues, yard work, house-sitting, and other needs.
Often the younger, more able-bodied adults can do the more strenuous physical labor and the older ones can handle less physically demanding activities that may be too time-consuming for the young adults.
Less strain on the family caregiver
If the family caregiver has a parent/grandparent who is in poor health who doesn’t live with them, it can be extremely stressful to try to travel back and forth to the parent’s home to care for them and their home while they also try to juggle . Even if the parent is just thirty minutes across town, that is an hour per day of commuting time that adds stress to the family caregiver and his/her family.
Children benefit, as well, because they get to develop such close ties with their grandparents and maybe even great-grandparents. They learn that everyone does their part to pitch in and help everyone else. They get to experience a lot more of their grandparents’ perspectives and love. This helps them appreciate the wisdom and experience of older generations and broadens their worldview in healthy ways.Younger children learn the value of family and teamwork
Better quality of life for everyone
Loneliness is a major problem for every generation in our society today. But when extended family lives together, the older adults feel needed, engaged, loved, and important. Children have much more support, guidance, and time with loved ones.
Parents don’t have to feel so alone in parenting and in the responsibilities of raising their children. Everyone feels less isolated. With healthy family dynamics in place, this can be a win for everyone.
Improved safety and security
With more people living in the home with different schedules, someone is generally home to watch out for the house and to make sure the home is not empty. An empty home is more attractive to would-be-burglars.
And with adult children and grandchildren around, aging parents or grandparents can get help much more quickly if they have a fall or a medical emergency than they could if they lived alone.
Some things to consider when you are building an area for older adults or adult children:
- Each generation needs a certain level of privacy and space to call their own where they can get away from other activity in the household. If people feel too “crammed in together,” that can be a recipe for tension.
- It’s wise to incorporate Universal Design so that accessibility issues won’t be a problem for aging parents or anyone in the family who may have a physical disability.
- It would be ideal for each generation to have private outdoor access so they can come and go without disturbing others in the home.
- Each generation may like to have their own private decks, patio, and/or yard space.
- Evaluate how much garage space, parking, and storage each person will need.
There are numerous options of house plans and floor plans:
- Dual master suites (a “mother-in-law suite”) with common living areas and a common kitchen. This may be especially helpful if the older generation is helping a lot with cooking or child care for the younger generation.
- Multiple master suites with multiple common living spaces in the same home.
- A duplex or town home style living arrangement. If the extra unit is no longer needed for the family, it could be rented out or sold.
- A full apartment in basement so that each generation has its own floor of the house.
- A guest house in the backyard.
- A full “in-law apartment” over a separate garage in the backyard.
- Two separate houses on adjacent lots or on the same lot with a walkway or breezeway in between.
Of course, you will have to consider zoning laws and building codes as you think about which arrangement might work best for your family’s particular situation.
Building a multi-generational custom home is not for every family, but it may be the perfect solution for a family who is interested in combining resources now or who wants to prepare for that possibility in the future.
For great additional information on aging in place, please see this article by caring.com. A Guide to Aging in Place.
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