The idea of more than two generations living together in the same house, has been adopted by more than 51 million American families! Experts predict that the trend will only rise further, thereby encouraging builders and remodelers to adapt to the increasing demands.
It is surprising to see that the generation which believes in independence and self-reliance when it comes to a living space, is actually happy sharing it with their elders. A Pew report states that more than three-quarters of adults aged between 25 to 34 years who live with their parents, were satisfied with their living arrangement. Almost 50 percent of these paid rent, and approximately 90 percent contributed in the household expenses. Also, according to a 2011 report of Generations United, an advocacy group based in Washington, D.C., 82 percent of the participants living in these households said that staying in multigenerational homes has brought them closer, 72 percent experienced an improvement in their financial health, and 75 percent believed to have experienced care benefits.
Well, the trend of many generations residing in the same house is not uncommon, especially among Asians and Hispanics. With Americans too, adapting to this agreement has proved beneficial. However, there are certain aspects which need to be considered before making arrangements to finally move in. The most important point is to take your time and not rush into the process. Take as long as 5 to 6 months, if you need, to evaluate and plan the various facets of this undertaking. This includes the emotional, financial, and physical demands, along with the individual responsibilities that each family member would be expected to take. All these and more are discussed in detail in the following points.
1. The Needs of Each Family Member
With different generations sharing the same space, it is important to cater to their individual needs. For instance, if there is an elderly member in a wheelchair, it becomes imperative to install certain amenities such as an elevator, one no-step entryway, wider doorways, safety bars, and an even flooring. Also, if there are teenagers in the house, it is important that their privacy and freedom is not hindered in any way. It should be discussed with each and every family member, when it comes to their basic needs and expectations in the house. A balance needs to be maintained when it comes to each member's privacy and space-sharing requirements.
2. The Responsibility of Household Chores
Living under the same roof brings unity, provided there is a clear division of individual space and responsibilities. Allotment of the major and basic responsibilities should be given to specific members. For instance, if one member takes the responsibility of elderly care, in terms of their medical checkups, medicines, and the like, others should take responsibility of cooking and grocery supplies. Contribution in terms of the weekly/monthly expenses and the like should be clarified beforehand.
3. The Resources Available and Budget Limit
If you are planning to remodel your existing home, or get a new one, not to mention, it is an expensive affair! Therefore, it is important to evaluate your existing resources and set a fixed budget, so that your decisions and actions are based within a set range. If you think you can remodel your existing property, then analyze the changes required based on your observations from the previous points. Depending on the total funds the entire family can arrange, prioritize the undertakings.
4. The Additions Required
After you have scoped all the aspects, it's time to jot down the most crucial changes needed, for all members to stay comfortably under the same roof. Determine if these can be done by you, or would you need professional help. It would not be difficult to find help. Many builders and remodeling agencies are available, and each neighborhood has a renowned one. These professionals can help in making the right additions as per your needs, especially when it comes to the elderly. According to an article published in the AARP Bulletin by Sally Abrahms, "The number of certified aging-in-place specialists who help older folks remain safely at home has more than doubled to nearly 5,000 since 2008."
Whatever additions you make, ensure that they are in sync with the current layout of the house, and complement the house completely. Most families resort to temporary fittings that may look off-the-wall. These may hamper the resale value of the property. A good remodeling that ensures smart and multipurpose usage of the extra spaces, would definitely attract more buyers, thereby increasing the property's value.
5. The Opinion of Professional Experts
Perhaps you don't wish to hire a professional to get the job done, but, if necessary, always try to get an opinion of a professional who can analyze the existing property and suggest various smart ways to minimize your cost, especially in the long-run. According to an article published in the Huffington Post, Deborah Pierce, an architect and accessible design expert, said that the following questions can be answered by professional experts only, to pave way for making the right amendments: "Do you have space on your unit to expand? What are the requirements in your neighborhood? If you can't build, what's involved with getting a variance―a permit to build what you want even though you don't comply? What's required if you can't do what you want to do? Just because they say your home is close to the property line doesn't mean you can't build another unit. It just means there's another hoop you have to jump through."
As mentioned earlier, building a multigenerational home is an expensive process. Therefore, one should start this task only after thorough scrutiny and planning. A wrong decision can cost you additional money, if things were to be redone for rectification purposes. Think of the long-term consequences and benefits, both in terms of personal living and monetary dealings. Discuss the entire process with other family members so that together they can share the load, and provide their valuable input to make the process much easier.