Five Factors to Consider Before Building a Custom Home for Multiple Generations

The trend toward multiple generations living in one home is strong and getting stronger. The reasons for this are as diverse as the political, cultural and financial opinions of the various generations who have decided to live together.

According to Pew Research, “In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof.

“Multigenerational family living – defined as a household that includes two or more adult generations, or one that includes grandparents and grandchildren – is growing among nearly all U.S. racial groups , among all age groups and among both men and women. The share of the population living in this type of household declined from 21 percent in 1950 to a low of 12 percent in 1980. Since then, multigenerational living has rebounded, increasing sharply during and immediately after the Great Recession of 2007-09.” 

This research suggests that the primary motivations for this trend are cultural and economic. For example, Hispanic and Asian families have a long-standing tradition of favoring multigenerational living arrangements and, some of the children of the primary homeowner are also likely to come back home to live, at least for a while, based on their often limited income.

Pew notes that in recent years, young adults have been the age group most likely to live in multigenerational households (previously, it had been older adults). Among 25 to 29-year olds in 2014, 31 percent were residents of such households. Among a broader group of young adults, those ages 18 to 34, living with parents surpassed other living arrangements in 2014 for the first time in more than 130 years. 

When multiple generations live under one apartment roof or in a smaller home, the challenges for the residents can be overwhelming due to the limited space. However, even with a much larger custom home, there are factors that should be considered if the inhabitants hope to peacefully coexist!

Kim Cieplik of Solid Rock Custom Homes in Colorado Springs and Michael Earley of Acme Brick Denver have advised clients who have decided to build a custom home for multiple generations, and they offer the five most important factors to consider.

#1 Privacy

In whatever the age configuration of generations – boomerang kids, older parents, grandchildren or something else – the most important consideration for building a home where everyone is happy involves privacy. “Privacy is the number one concern for multigenerational homes,” said Kim Cieplik. “These individuals are coming together for many reasons, but they still want to feel that it is their home.

“Part of this privacy consideration has to do with kitchen use and whether there should be separate kitchens for the additional residents,” she said. “It will, of course, vary from one family to the next, but having a large main kitchen for everyone and a smaller ‘kitchenette’ for other residents is an optimal scenario.

“In our area of Colorado there are code restrictions on the number of kitchens if the home is considered a single-family dwelling. Builders who want to add these smaller kitchenettes’ have to know the local restrictions. As more and more homebuyers are asking for structures that will accommodate multiple generations, this kitchen issue is being discussed around the country.”

Brick construction can help with this desire for privacy. Michael Earley of Acme Brick offered some insights in this area.

“The solid construction of brick can really help all of the parties in a multigenerational home enjoy their privacy,” he said. “Brick’s mass helps dampen the transfer of sound, through the walls, and this is very important when the residents have different sleeping and entertaining schedules. The music of the young people down the hall shouldn’t bother the grandparents who might be early-to-bed when brick construction is used in these homes.”

#2 A Smart Floor Plan

Because of the often wide differences in the ages and temperaments of the residents, there are many ‘moving parts’ to manage in a multigenerational home. This demands a smart floor plan for the custom home. “For our clients, one of the most important factors to consider is smart planning,” said Kim Cieplik. “You can’t have a good custom home for multiple generations without a floorplan designed for the needs of each group.

“That could mean having the bedrooms on opposite sides of the home, with the kitchen and living area in the center. Or, it could mean having more garage bays than a typical home.”

#3 Separate Entries

With multiple generations living in one home, each resident will likely have different work and recreational schedules. Separate entries will offer each group an opportunity to come and go without interrupting the others in the home.

“Separate entries allow everyone to feel that they have their own ‘place’ within the home,”Cieplik said. “When they come in, they can toss their coat and keys without having to keep them apart from everyone else.

“Having locking exterior and interior doors, with different keys, will also enhance the privacy of the grandparents or older child who has moved back home.”

#4 Laundry Spaces

One of life’s realities is laundry. Everyone has laundry to do on a regular basis, and adding an additional laundry space for extended family members is a practical solution for this chore.

“Even if it is a stackable washer and dryer in a small room, this simple addition of an extra laundry room enhances the privacy of the other generation,” Cieplik said. “It allows them the opportunity to complete this task at any time they please. Many young families must do laundry every day, leaving very little opportunity for the other residents to fit into this schedule. Separate laundry spaces solve this problem and make everyone’s life easier.”

#5 Separate Temperature Controls

With the extreme temperatures of Colorado, the heating and cooling of a large custom home, where everyone is comfortable, is a challenge, even with a traditional family. This is exacerbated by the addition of multiple generations.

“Customizable and separate temperature controls can allow the grandparents or young adults to keep their area of the house either cooler or warmer than the rest of the home,” Cieplik noted. “The temperature of the various zones of the house can be easily regulated with proper planning, and energy-saving features can also be personalized for each zone.”

Brick is an Important Addition to Multigenerational Homes

“I definitely feel that brick is an important part of making a custom home more livable for multiple generations,” Cieplik said. “It acts as an excellent sound barrier and enhances the energy efficiency of the home. Plus, its appearance appeals to every age group.

“Other factors that can enhance the noise reduction include spray insulation for outside walls and solid-core doors. Using these materials and building techniques not only offer privacy but they make for a more energy-efficient home, saving everyone money.”​

If you are considering building a custom home that will house multiple generations, contact  Solid Rock Custom Homes for even more great ideas. To learn how brick construction can enhance privacy and noise reduction, contact Michael Earley at Acme Brick Denver.