Should You Remodel Your House for Multi-generational Living?

The Andrea Fonash Group of RE/MAX Action Associates
Published on May 18, 2017

Should You Remodel Your House for Multi-generational Living?



A big trend in the modern American lifestyle is changing the way Chester County homeowners remodel. Multi-generational households are on the rise. Our kids grow, graduate from college then return home to live while they search for employment. In another common scenario, our parents age, then move in so we can help with their care. About 50 million of us currently live in multi-generational households. 

Here’s a list of at least three things that will push that number higher in the years ahead:

1.  Boomerang kids driven home by a tough job market and ginormous student loan debts.

2.  Aging parents (over the next 40 years the 65+ population will reach 92 million) who’d rather live with us than move into assisted living.

3.  A growing immigrant population that prefers communal living.

How Did We Get Multigenerational?

After chatting with friends last weekend, I discovered that when most of us bought our current home, we didn’t expect to have a multigenerational house. Instead, we thought things would go like this:

  • You buy the house.
  • You get a dog.
  • You have a few children who move out at age 22.
  • The dog dies.
  • You and spouse (and maybe another dog) live in the house alone for the next two decades.

In reality, something like this happened:

  • You bought the house.
  • You got a dog.
  • You had kids.
  • Dad died, and Mom moved in.
  • A friend needed a place to stay after rehab.
  • You hosted a foreign exchange student.
  • A kid moved out after college, and you turned her room into a gift-wrapping station.
  • A kid moved back in to save money while she looked for a job, and all the gift wrap ended up in the garage.
  • Your sister got divorced. She and her kids moved in with you.
  • You considered moving into a tiny condo to get away from everyone.

Multigenerational Remodeling Strategies

Almost everyone experienced a few of the situations on my list (although no one had all of those things happen). That inspired me to come up with a list of multigenerational options to consider when you remodel.

Even if you swear your parent would never move in and your children are gone for good, it’s still smart to incorporate multigenerational features when remodeling your home. The features are there if you need them, they’re great for hosting weekend guests, and they’re a marketable asset when it’s time to sell your home.

Here’s my short list of multigenerational tweaks you could incorporate when you’re doing home projects:

Finish the basement. Opt for a full basement bathroom rather than only a half bath. If the budget won’t stretch that far, at least rough in plumbing for a shower and sink in case you change your mind later and want to add a full bath and kitchenette. Soundproofing the ceiling keeps the noise of basement activities from floating upstairs and increases privacy.

Remodel the bathroom. Put in a curbless shower to make the shower easier to use for folks of all ages.

Renovate the main floor. Adding a full bath will allow you to age in place by moving to the main floor and offering upper-floor living spaces to family members.

Redo the kitchen. Adding a second kitchen sink makes it easier to have multiple cooks without spoiling your broth.

Add a second entrance. Having your own front door, even if it’s around the back of the house, creates privacy. A second entrance also makes it easier for you to turn part of your home into a rental unit to boost your retirement income — if your local zoning allows that.

Put in a wet bar. With all those people moving in and out, you’re definitely going to need a drink!

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