In 2010, the Pew Research report found that 21.6% of American households are multi-generational. Still reeling from the recession, young families moved back home to Mom and Dad’s. Millennials bounced back and forth between independence and the respite of their parents’ home. Grandma and Grandpa opted to go to their kids’ places instead of a nursing home.
And the numbers are growing. More than 51 million families are participating in this new trend. If you expect to become one of them, you may want to take another look at your home. Are you equipped to handle the needs of several different generations at once?
Before you start planning a redesign consider a few things.
Find out about the zoning in your neighborhood.
Building codes—even for simple additions—are different from neighborhood to neighborhood. You’ll want to stop by city hall and find out the details so you can avoid costly problems. City builders and inspectors are also good resources for helping you make good choices for improvements to your property and getting the proper permits to do it.
Talk to a realtor.
Additions and improvements to your home affect its value. Consult with a realtor to find out how you can maximize value and avoid additions that might make your home difficult to sell. They are in the trenches with buyers every day and know what buyers like and what will help you sell your home when the time comes.
Assess your house.
Take a walk through the house with your family’s needs are in mind. Look through the eyes of your aged mother. Will she be able to manage that step down? Will your young adult child need more light in that basement room to study? Is there enough insulation between Grandpa’s room and your teen’s room, or will they keep each other up all night?
Consider your budget.
Determine a price range in which you are willing to work. Talk to professionals to get an idea of true costs before you get started. You may have to pick the most important priorities for your first projects and continue making improvements down the road.
Take your time.
Even though your father may want to move in next month, don’t hurry your addition. Take the time to carefully plan so your home will be comfortable for all your family members for many years to come. Allow several months for planning then add construction time to that.
A few thoughtful details can make a big difference. Place an oven with a side hinge at the right height for use while seated in a wheelchair. Expand the work space in the kitchen to allow for more than one cook at a time in busy multi-schedule households. Plenty of accessible storage space gives everyone the ability to keep necessities on hand. Expand the width of pathways throughout the space to accommodate children and elders in the home.
Use moveable walls.
Moveable walls let you transform large open-format spaces into private apartments. This retains independence for your family members living at home without making you give up your large living spaces permanently.
Think universal design.
Universal design aims to make spaces work for everyone. It is essentially design that everyone can access that doesn’t skimp on style like most accessibility design does. It simultaneously customizes and generalizes your design so everyone is comfortable. Universal design also makes it easier to sell your home when the time comes. It includes things like multi-height surfaces, low-profile or no-ledge shower entrances, and seating that is easy to get in and out of.
Get durable surfaces.
With so many people coming and going, you’ll want to select flooring that can take heavy traffic and look good while doing it. Tile is tough, easy to clean, and is available in just about any style you could want. You can have a stylish home without sacrificing the durability you need for multiple children, dogs, wheelchairs, and busy teens.
Check out communities.
As the need for multi-generational design increases, look for communities that incorporate these designs into the plans. These communities aren’t just for 50+ residents either. They are in neighborhoods that mix the old and the young.
Turn your home into a haven for any of the generations that live with you. Carefully plan your addition or upgrade with them in mind and enjoy the harmony of a successful multi-generational home.