Have you noticed lately that households in your neighborhood are growing in numbers? From Grandma moving in with her grown daughter and her husband and children, to the boomerang college graduate moving back home, statistics show that the three-generation home, or multigenerational living, is not only on the rise in the US—it’s here to stay.
As of 2008, a record 49 million Americans, or 16.1% of the total U.S. population, lived in a family household that contained at least two adult generations or a grandparent and at least one other generation, according to a new Pew Research Center analysis of census data, with a 10.5 increase in multigenerational households from 2007 to 2009.
Of course it’s no surprise that economics play a big part in this—Time magazine reported a staggering 85% of adult children returning home to live with mom and/or dad, after graduation. And, as Louis Tenenbaum, a leading thinker, speaker and consultant on Aging in Place observes, if years ago it was Mom or Dad moving in with grown children because they were struggling to make ends meet, now it’s more likely to be the grown child moving back home, complete with spouse and children.
Another cause for the sharp increase in multigenerational living comes from the immigrant population. For families from Asia, Mexico, Europe it’s in the natural order of life to have either the husband’s or wife’s parents living in the home with married children.
With the rise in multigenerational living, many building companies are scrambling to provide solutions to a self-sufficient ‘in-law ‘apartment. Steve Linton, President of Deltec Homes, says, “Due to the nature of our building envelopes, Deltec Homes, has been offering an economic and viable solution to multigenerational living for years. There is nothing easier than adding a smaller Deltec model to the main house, either with a Connector or by an external walkway.”
This is not to say it isn’t a tricky situation. Many families simply designate a bedroom to the aging parents or boomerang child, but this can lead to undue stress. The key to having multiple generations living peacefully under one roof is privacy and space. Maintaining a sense of independence is crucial to the sanity of everyone involved: this means a self-sufficient apartment complete with living area, kitchen, bath and, preferably, independent entry.
Kerry Watkins and Chad Moore, designers at Deltec, concur. They can reel off names of families for whom, over the years, they have designed a home destined to multigenerational living. Says Watkins, “A typical solution for such a situation has been a larger model (1200 sq ft or larger) for the main house, and a smaller model, such as a Camden, for the in-law apartment. At 800 sq ft, a Camden offers ample space for living/dining quarters with a bedroom and full bath, as well as some storage.” Adds Moore, “Many Deltec homeowners intentionally plan for a flex space—separate guest or office space that can, when the need arises, be converted into independent living quarters for a family member.”
Says Joe Schlenk, Director of Sales and Marketing at Deltec, “A Deltec offers the live-in family members, whether they are boomerang children returned to the nest or aging parents, a more dignified solution to the problem—there isn’t the feeling of being reduced to living in a bedroom in someone else’s home.”
“In addition,” adds Schlenk, “a Deltec offers the perfect aging in place solution: open living floor plans with with the kitchen, living room, bedroom, bathroom, laundry, and garage access all within easy access on the same floor, eliminating the worry about climbing stairs.
Zoning laws are another aspect not to be overlooked when designing a multigenerational home: a completely separate structure might require special permitting, or could be denied. Deltec offers two solutions to this issue: either an added wing as an independent living area, or a second circular model with a ‘Deltec connect’ between it and the main circular structure.
Says Schlenk, “With planning and foresight, you can make the transition to multigenerational living in a home environment more comfortable and accommodating for everyone involved.”