In a volatile real estate market, savvy home buyers plan ahead. Rising mortgage rates and insufficient inventory make buyers cautious, and this environment lends itself to finding the perfect home and staying put. This perfect storm often means a suitable house can accommodate several generations—buyers, their children, and aging parents.
In the same vein, it could mean maintaining space for adult children who return home after college to take a breath before launching their careers. Either way, today’s houses need privacy, practicality, and plenty of well-designed space. So, whether you’re searching for the right house or looking to upgrade your current one, here are a few tips to keep disparate generations comfortable.
Adults Living with Adults
Whether your adult children need a place to stay while they gather post-collegiate footing or aging parents require more personal care, grown-ups sharing a house need clear boundaries and a certain degree of separateness. This could mean multiple bedrooms and bathrooms or an extra living space complete with a kitchen and separate entrance. Many builders—feeding a gap in the market—have stepped up to create homes with several master bedrooms (complete with adjoining baths). Whatever floor plan you choose, making privacy a priority will help keep everyone together.
Safety and Practicality
Especially when it comes to aging parents, ensuring structures inside and outside the home are safe, up-to-date and useful will help multi-generational living run smoothly. Here are a few things to consider:
- Stairs – While the push for one-story houses (known as Ranch Style) has increased due to falling concerns or wheelchair access, stairs don’t have to be a deal-breaker. You could use the second story for mobile family members, reserving first-story facilities for anyone who feels more comfortable avoiding stairs. You could also install a chairlift or elevator to make accessing the second floor easier.
- Cement Surfaces – If you need wheelchair access to the home, install ramps into the doorway with handrails on each side. Make sure all walkways are level and repave driveways, garages and sidewalks, if necessary.
- Bedrooms and Bathrooms – To keep bending to a minimal, make sure beds, bathtubs and toilets are raised to a comfortable height. Use slip-proof mats in and around bathtubs and install removable shower heads for secure bathing.
- Technology – With new technological developments, tasks like turning on lights, unlocking doors, and communicating with anyone outside the door have become more convenient than ever. Not to mention, younger generations are accustomed to a higher level of technological interaction.
Although open floor plans have gained in popularity, walls that designate each space might be more fitting for a multi-generational household. Consider your family’s situation carefully and think about how each room can be divided to accommodate everyone’s needs. Even if you currently have toddlers, imagine how a playroom might one day convert to a bedroom. Basements and attics make great living spaces, as well.
Even if you don’t plan to host sick parents or grown offspring, outfitting a house so it’s capable of meeting various demands can only serve to raise the value of your home. Also, though you might be active now, you could one day need a downstairs bedroom or raised shower. It never hurts to be proactive about the type of house you may want or need down the road.