According to Audrey Hoffer at the Washington Post, multigenerational households are becoming more common now than in past decades. Ever since the Recession this living arrangement that can include grandparents, parents, and grown children is becoming a notable study in the changing household demographics.
During the last year of the Great Recession (2009) 17 percent of Americans lived in multigenerational households, according to a senior writer and editor at Pew Research Center. This means 51.5 million people were living in homes with either grandparents and grandchildren, or with two or more adult generations, all based on census data. In 2016 that shot up to 20 percent of Americans — 64 million people — playing checkers, fighting over bathroom rights, or watching TV with another generation. And yes, it’s a new record.
What are Multigenerational Households?
BUILDER Magazine reports that homebuilders, who make it their business to follow trends like these, are adapting home designs to create additional living spaces that offer privacy and separation for parents or college students moving back home, and ground floor suites for easy access for grandparents.
Today’s baby boomers often shudder at the thought of moving aging parents to an assisted-living facility, often making accommodations for Mom and Dad to either age in place or have them move in with them. At the same time, grown children finishing college may be slower to launch than previous generations, saddled with student loan debt and faced with higher housing costs compared to their parents.
A multigenerational household is defined as one with grandparents and grandchildren or with two or more adult generations. To answer the needs of disparately-aged occupants living together, homebuilders, as well as remodelers, are adapting homes to include ground-floor master suites, eliminating raised transitions and trip hazards between rooms and in showers, and adding grab bars to bathroom walls as well.
Coping up with Multigenerational Households
Some families, especially close ethnic groups, just accept this as a natural phenomenon in life that harkens back to the way previous generations lived in the “old country.” Others must do some strategic planning to include sorting out the finances. In some cases, older generations sell the family home and use the proceeds to add living quarters to their children’s houses.
These arrangements can often answer the needs of working parents looking for full or part-time childcare as older generations take up important tasks such as picking up and dropping off their grandchildren at school.
When looking at renovating a space for more than one generation one of the most important aspects is paying attention to each person’s desire for privacy. Separate entrances, in-law suites with partial or full kitchens, converting formal living rooms to bedrooms and making sure communal dining areas are large enough to accommodate a good number of people, and even extra insulation for noise abatement — all are taken into consideration for this multigenerational arrangement. This means melding design, finance, and emotion into the process as well, with each generation having its own unique needs.
Source: BUILDER Magazine, Washington Post, TBWS