The Making of a Multigenerational Home
Multigenerational living in Australia is becoming more and more popular. City Futures Research Centre in Sydney estimates that almost 20% of Aussies now live in such households. In turn, there’s more and more demand for multigenerational housing on the market. Let’s analyse how such houses differ from the ones we’re used to and how you can transform your house for the needs of your family.
If you’ve ever tried to gather a large family for dinner, you probably know how difficult it can be to coordinate with everybody. When you all live together, it gets even more complicated with different schedules, eating habits and food preferences. Similar problems crop up in a shared family room or entertainment area. The key to comfortable multigenerational living is setting up separate hubs for different generations. The ideal set-up is grouping together a bedroom or bedrooms for your extended family, a bathroom or an ensuite with a living area and maybe even a kitchenette. That way you can all spend time together whenever you want without imposing on one another.
Duplicating high-traffic areas serves several other purposes as well. First of all, it provides you with some much-needed privacy and peace. Lack of personal space and alone time is the leading cause of stress and conflicts with multigenerational living and a decentralised home layout helps mitigate that. Diverting the traffic from your home’s most popular spots also reduces the strain on them and, therefore, the maintenance required for them. Finally, it functions as a way to compartmentalize your daily routines, especially if you’re caring for elderly relatives or raising children.
Even though the demographic tide is now shifting back towards multigenerational living, many, especially among younger people, still strive for independence and self-containment more typical for nuclear families. To create a true ‘forever home’ that would serve your family for many decades to come and to make the transition to multigenerational living smooth and painless, the layout of your home should be designed to allow for as much independence as possible.
Turning part of your home into a self-contained studio with its own entrance or building a ‘granny flat’ on your block may be an ideal solution if you want to keep the family close without giving up your own freedom. It can also be a perfect space for your children as they grow up and start settling into their own life.
Focusing on the practical aspects of sharing a home goes a long way towards configuring a perfect multi generational home. For example, you’re likely going to need to upgrade your hot water system to cater to more people in your home. Group bathrooms closer together to reduce hot water pipe run and make your home more energy-efficient.
It may also be a wise idea to set up separate heating and cooling systems for different parts of the house, so that you and your family can control the temperature independently.
Finally, increased noise level that comes with sharing a living space is one of those problems that doesn’t seem like a big deal until you start experiencing it on a daily basis. Sound treatment, insulation and even simpler touches like adding drapes and carpets can make your home a much more pleasant place to be at.
As we’ve already mentioned, multi generational homes can essentially serve you forever, passing down from parents to children and keeping your family together. To achieve that, however, you need to plan far ahead.
For instance, if you’re intending to have your ageing parents live with you, it makes sense to extend the ground floor or move your own bedroom upstairs and settle your parents below. Even if they are fairly active and mobile at the moment, it is better to future-proof your house and avoid expensive upgrades and renovations later down the road.
If you’re preparing a space for your own children, consider other potential uses for it as well. Adding a separate entrance would allow you to easily rent it out, when your kids go to uni or if, for whatever reason, they decide to strike out on their own and try living away from home for a while.