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Real Estate in an Era of Multigenerational Family Living

Multigenerational living is a major trend. According to the Pew Research Institute, as of 2018, a record 64 Million (20%) of Americans live in multigenerational households. A multigenerational household generally presents as two adult generations and one generation under the age of 25 – in other words grandparents, parents and children all live under one roof.

There are a number of reasons that multigenerational living has become increasingly popular, particularly in densely populated areas like the DMV. First, there are some significant financial considerations that impact the oldest and youngest generation in particular. For the older generation – i.e. grandparents who have retired and are facing old age on a fixed income, health care is a serious expense. Also, there is limited inventory and a high cost to retirement facilities. As a result, grandparents are staying in the family home or moving in with their children. For the younger generation, rents are prohibitive on an entry-level income. And, saddled with student loans, millennials are living at home after college.

Another reason for multigenerational living is the attraction of aging in place as an alternative to moving to a retirement home. In fact, the AARP has found that aging in place is preferred by 90% of seniors. Parents and grandparents choose to stay in their home, and they need a house that can accommodate the needs of aging in place.

Finally, for the entire family, multigenerational living allows each generation to stay in a familiar community, with known resources, and often near additional family. This trend means that homeowners are looking for homes that accommodate the unique needs of multigenerational life. This lifestyle brings families together on a higher level, but it can be a nuisance if the house is not designed to accommodate this.

One obvious way to assure that the home is a fit for all its residents is to design and build your own. The design needs to be flexible and geared towards accommodating children and the elderly under one roof. Also, the design should take into account that the needs of the household will evolve as the residents of each generation continue to age. The following are some of the features that we have found are critical to a multigenerational home.

Bedrooms on three floors

With a master on the ground floor, multiple bedrooms on the second floor and an in-law suite on the lower level, spreading bedrooms throughout the home will allow for some privacy for each generation. Each bedroom should have an en-suite bathroom and adequate closet space.

Facilities should come in twos

The kitchen has increasingly become the heart of a home. However, including a second kitchen on the lower level will give the resident older generation a way to retreat and tend to themselves on occasion. In addition, multiple laundry sites will allow each resident generation convenience and ease for a necessary household chore.


Since the grandparents and parents will continue to age in place, considerations of diminished physical capacity should be integrated into the design. Choice of lot location and careful design can minimize the number of stairs. Open concepts and elimination of unnecessary hallways and doors will also help make the home more accessible. Consider an elevator as a truly accessible addition. Finally, bathroom design should take into account the possibility of handicap needs that may arise with the passage of time.

Places to congregate and separate

Allowing each generation their own spaces will create a more harmonious household. For example, a sitting room area on the second floor outside the younger generation bedrooms creates a comfortable play space away from adults. Outdoor design should allow for multiple areas for different activities such as a sitting area for the older adults and play areas for the children.

A ground floor designed for independence

In addition to a separate kitchen, the ground floor design should anticipate that this will be the residence for the older generation. Light, privacy and access are all important factors to consider. It should be a full walk-out design with a separate entryway. In addition, the layout of the common areas and the bedroom should allow for some separation and privacy.

Flexibility for evolving needs

Rooms should be designed to have multiple functions as the needs of the family evolve. For example, a bedroom can be used as a study, but easily converted to accommodate a new resident should the need arise.

Living together under one roof can be the ticket to bringing a family closer together and solving housing, aging and financial requirements for each resident generation. In order for a multigenerational home to truly meet the needs of the family, the design should take into consideration concepts like aging in place and the benefits of each generation having their own retreat. The ideal way to accomplish this is to work from the ground up with the help of AV Architects and Builders.

Want to know more about multigenerational design, contact us for a consultation.

Smart Home Automation: Featuring Sight and Sound Systems

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- What is home automation?
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