Remodeling for Multigenerational Living

It’s a fact of life today: More and more seniors are moving in with their adult children. Many families are struggling to accommodate these new additions to their households.

According to U.S. Census figures, the number of adults living with their adult children has grown steadily And with baby boomers entering retirement age, these numbers will swell in the coming years.

At Custom Contracting, this issue is raising questions for many of our clients: Can I convert my attic so that my dad can move in? Would an addition be a better solution? Should I be aware of any restrictions?

Multigenerational living raises some complicated issues. The good news is that with proper planning and execution, it can make good sense — financially and logistically.

A Modest Addition

When you consider the alternatives, remodeling to accommodate senior parents can be a smart financial decision. Paying for a parent to stay in a senior living center can put a dent in your wallet for a number of years. Selling your current home to buy a new one also involves a big financial hit.

The best solution may lie in a new in-law apartment. Due to accessibility issues, we generally do not advocate converting an attic or basement for this purpose. Rather, a modest addition on the ground level usually is the way to go.

A typical in-law apartment might feature a bedroom, living area, kitchen and full bathroom. This arrangement gives the parent nearly everything he or she might need to live comfortably.

Besides housing a senior parent, these types of additions have many possible uses. For instance:

  • Creating the living space you need to grow old in your current home
  • Accommodating adult children moving back home after college or job loss
  • Serving as guest space or a game room

And increasing your home’s versatility is a great way to enhance its value.

Universal Design and Zoning Considerations

If you decide to move forward with an in-law apartment, be sure to keep the principles of universal design in mind. We wrote about this topic in a prior newsletter.

As we explained then, universal remodeling is all about making the home easier to use by people of all ages, sizes and physical abilities. This means having fewer stairs to climb, wider interior doors and hallways that can fit wheelchairs, curb-less shower entries and many other features.

Another consideration that can have a huge impact on your project: local zoning restrictions. If you’re building an addition, for example, you may run into problems with setbacks.

Also, if your home is zoned as a single-family dwelling, your town may not allow you to introduce a full second kitchen with a stove. In this case, you may have to settle for everything but the stove — e.g. counters, a refrigerator and a sink.

As with most remodeling projects, there are many factors at work when planning an in-law apartment. If you have any questions, we’d be happy to offer our guidance and expertise.