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What Is Multi-Generational Housing?

By Tabitha Jean Naylor

In stark contrast to the boom in micro apartments is the trend of the multi-generational home. These homes are designed specifically for multi-generational families who choose to live under one roof with separate living spaces. They are becoming very popular in Charlotte, as well as cities like Seattle, Minneapolis and many others.

Why the increasing demand for multi-generational homes? People are living longer and many children are finding it more convenient to care for parents when they are under the same roof. Empty nesters are also faced with adult children that can't find jobs, or are in no rush to find their own apartment. Multi-generational housing provides an elegant solution to both types of multi-generational families. With separate living quarters elderly parents or young adult children retain their independence and privacy as well as the caretakers.

According to AARP in an article titled "3 Generations Under One Roof" 32 per cent of adult children expect to eventually share their house with a parent. AARP goes on to say that multi-generational homes are perfect for an aging parent because the quarters are generally one fifth the size of the main home.

These "homes within a home" appear the same on the outside as any other single family home but inside the primary house there is another separate living area similar to an apartment. The second separate living area generally consists of a bedroom, bathroom, living room and kitchenette. Many of these homes provide separate entries for the main home and the "apartment." This ensures maximum privacy for everyone living in the home. Another common feature is an internal door separating the two living areas that can be opened so the home can be one large residence, or when closed two separate homes.

Most multi-generational homes range in size from 3,000 to 4,000 sq. ft. As an alternative to a multi-generational home some builders are building homes with two master suites-at least one on the main floor with additional flexible space. If the owners want, it can later be converted into a separate apartment to make it into a multi-generational home. This provides a smart alternative for younger families that need more space now but anticipate bringing in parents at a later date.

Certainly a major benefit of multi-generational housing is affordability. Living together means resources can be pooled making it more affordable for elders or adult children than an assisted living center or apartment.

Multi-generational homes generally require larger lots and in some areas there may be zoning issues that need to be addressed. Some areas prohibit accessory buildings on the grounds that they could be used as rental units so make sure you have the permissions you need before purchasing or building a multi-generational home.

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