Are you the meat in the Sandwich Generation? According to Pew Research Center, just over 1 of every 7 Americans aged 40 to 60 is both raising a child and caring for a parent. Is there a Boomerang in your home? Pew Research also reports that 30% of adults in their late 20s and early 30s are living with their parents. Student loans, rise in the average age of first marriage, eldercare costs, and other variables contribute to the trend of multigenerational families living together. It makes sense for family members to join forces instead paying separate mortgages, property taxes, utilities, and other upkeep costs for several residences. Not to mention the time and money spent traveling to and from multiple locations.
This upbeat and widespread trend has been on the rise, not only for practical reasons but also because families have re-discovered the benefit of connecting with one another—aka quality interpersonal relationships. All generations benefit from a built-in support system as each person goes through life’s experiences. Grandparents and older family members may provide child care, while younger adults can help care for elderly relatives. Isolated grandparents and latchkey kids are a thing of the past. Family togetherness is rewarding, but it’s crucial for all family members to respect everyone’s personal space and feelings. Open communication, having clear cut responsibilities for each family member, and boundaries should be discussed from the start. Multigenerational living can be a win-win experience!
Second dwelling units used to be known as “in-law” additions but are now called “Generation Suites.” They’re well-designed spaces that fulfill the wants and needs of various family members. Typically, there should be a balance of private and shared spaces. Private spaces can include living areas, kitchens, dining areas, and even separate entrances.
Whether you envision a new structure built on your property, an addition to your home, or remodeling of an existing space, it’s important to talk to experienced professionals first. Have a budget in mind and bring photos you’ve collected to show features and styles that you like. Depending on the scope of your project, you may want to meet with an architect and interior designer before meeting with a contractor. Planning also includes discussing your vision and budget. Discussions may involve some “give and take,” so prioritize your desires from “must have” to “not as important.” Key aspects to keep in mind include privacy, accessibility, and safety.
All homes should be safe for family members of all ages. It used to be thought that safety features like grab bars or shower benches were only for seniors or people with disabilities. That perception has changed with the times. “Universal Design” ensures safety and accessibility for children through seniors. Because Universal Design is so—well, universal, and no longer is specialized (or stigmatized), prices are competitive. Incorporate universal design principles not only in the suite or addition but also throughout the main house. There are numerous universal design products available such as no-slip flooring, light sensors, touch-free faucets. Other safety considerations include installing separate light, heat, and air-conditioning controls as well as smoke, fire, and carbon monoxide detectors.
Lighting is also an important feature. Natural light offers many proven healthful benefits. Maximizing natural light may involve removing walls to allow light flow or adding windows and skylights. Task lighting will make food prep easier in kitchens, shaving and make-up application simpler in bathrooms, and reading easier in living rooms and bedrooms.
There are many aspects of planning a multigenerational addition, so do not rush! You’ll probably make several revisions before you meet with a contractor. If you research your project and gather photos, you’ll be prepared to make decisions—and there will be many! Your effort will be worth it when you and your family discover the rewards of multigenerational living.
If you would like to learn more about Generation Suites or are interested in discussing another project, please Request a Free Consultation or call Popham at 812-479-5850.