How Multi-Generational Living Impacts Home Design

Blog posted On May 29, 2019

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Today, it’s not uncommon to have multiple generations living in the same home.  Between adult children returning after college and parents living longer, Baby Boomers are often called the “sandwich generation” as they simultaneously care for their children and parents.  In fact, 41% of American home buyers consider the need to accommodate an elderly parent or adult child when they are shopping for a home.  After decades of building detached single-family homes, some home builders are shifting gears toward accommodating multiple generations under one roof.

In 1980, just 12% of American households contained two or more adult generations.  Today, that figure has increased to 20% or 64 million Americans who live in households with two or more adult generations.  Many factors may have contributed to this lifestyle shift including an increased life expectancy, residual financial strain from the Great Recession, high student debt loads, costly childcare, and lack of available housing inventory.  Adults may welcome their elderly parents into their home to cut the cost of paying for a nursing home facility for their parents or even offset the cost of childcare for their own children – built-in babysitter!  Adult children are more likely to return home after college to save money and pay down student debt before going off on their own.  

Major home builders now offer floorplans to house multiple generations under one roof.  Lennar, one of the largest home builders in the country, pioneered a multigenerational floor plan in 2011 branded as “Next Gen” or “two homes under one roof.”  The model is currently offered in 13 states with plans well-equipped to serve everyone from aging parents to adults with special needs. 

AARP reports almost 90% of seniors desire to age in place or stay in their own homes rather than move into a cohousing space.  Even with the rising need for multi-generational housing, homes designed specifically to house multiple generations remain a small segment of the housing market.  Some of the challenges builders face are accessibility for all ages, accommodating storage, and allowing all family members to maintain their independence.   


Sources: Fast Company