Monthly Archives: May 2017

Multigenerational Living is Back

The concept of multiple generations living in the same house is nothing new.

Multigenerational households declined in popularity after World War II, but they’re on the rise again in a big way.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 51 million Americans (or 16.7 percent of the population) live in a house with at least two adult generations, or a grandparent and at least one other generation. Pew also reported a 10.5 percent increase in multigenerational households from 2007 to 2009.

One driver of this trend is changing demographics. While one would normally expect baby boomers to be downsizing at this stage of their lives, quite a few are actually trading up. Boomers are sometimes referred to as “the Sandwich Generation” because they have children still living at home as well as elderly parents.

Second, the recession triggered a wave of so-called “boomerang kids” moving back in with their parents because they couldn’t support themselves financially. There’s also the surge in immigration that started around 1970, dominated by Asians and those from Latin America, who are much more inclined than native-born Americans to live in multigenerational households.

For economic as well as psychological reasons, many boomers don’t want to put Grandma and Grandpa in an assisted-living facility or nursing home. Instead, they’re purchasing new homes where everyone can spend quality time together as a family as well as have independence and privacy. 

Multigenerational Housing

In response to the growing number of boomers taking care of elderly relatives in their homes, many builders have made the first-floor bedroom suite a standard feature, says Joan Marcus-Colvin, senior vice president of sales and marketing for The New Home Company (TNHC), Aliso Viejo, Calif.

But homes geared specifically to multigenerational buyers are on the cutting edge of design. They often include self-contained, apartment-like living areas with a bedroom, a full bath, a kitchenette, a separate entrance and sometimes a laundry room and garage. Although the western states, especially California, are ahead of the curve, these multigenerational floorplans are gradually making their way east. 

Based on extensive consumer research, TNHC and Robert Hidey Architects of Irvine, Calif., developed floor plans for Irvine’s Lambert Ranch. The community features large single-family homes with various options for extended families, including 800-sq.-ft., detached guest houses; “living suites” with kitchenettes and separate entrances and compound-like estates with shared courtyards.

“We have this multifaceted approach to multigenerational because we figured not everyone’s going to have the same family these days,” says Marcus-Colvin. “We learned that the most successful solution was the detached guest house. It’s in such close proximity to the main house that [although it offers] privacy, it’s very connected.” 

One couple that purchased at Lambert Ranch had married later in life. Each spouse had three children from a previous marriage. “They took the maximum number of bedrooms in the guest house so the two returning college kids could live there, and the younger kids in the main house,” she says.

“In the majority of our floor plans, there was an option to convert one of the downstairs bedrooms to a lock-off suite,” says Jose Alkon, sales manager for Lambert Ranch. “We would add a door to the exterior from the bedroom to provide a private entrance, and there would also be a door to the main house so they could maintain that connection.” 

In just over a year, all 169 homes at Lambert Ranch were sold, ranging from 2,730 to 4,876 sq. ft. and priced from the $900,000s to $1.5 million. TNHC is now selling multigenerational homes at Villa Metro in Santa Clarita, Calif. — since Villa Metro opened in August 2013, 34 of 60 homes have been sold.

How to Choosing Unusual Options for New Homes

When told they can have anything they want in their home, some buyers will ask for anything from secret rooms to a hydro-therapy pool, prayer rooms and specially outfitted craft rooms.

Hiding Your Vices

When Eric Tovar, owner of Churchill Classics, a custom builder in Rockville, Md., designed an addition to a home in Potomac, Md., a simple plan for storage beneath the addition morphed into a secret hideaway “like something from a James Bond movie,” says Tovar.

“We built a door behind a bookcase so that when you pulled on a particular book it tugged on a wire so the door would open,” says Tovar. “The whole addition cost about $400,000. It had a ventilation system so you could smoke cigars in the room, a humidifier so you could store cigars, three piped-in beer taps and a temperature-controlled wine cellar. Underneath a deck just outside the secret room we added a hot tub with lighting and music.”

Pampering Your Spiritual Side

In the Houston area, prayer rooms are a popular option for people of Hindu and Muslim faiths, says Jim Lemming, president of Partners in Building, a custom builder in Houston and Nashville.

“Our buyers know the best location for the prayer room and which way the windows should face,” says Lemming. “We have to design the home around it to avoid having drain pipes next to or above the room for Hindus because of their religious beliefs. Muslims typically just want a room that can allow one or two people to kneel for prayer.”

Lemming says some buyers have a religious consultant work with their builder, architect and interior designer to make sure the space meets their spiritual requirements.

Second kitchens, while becoming more common for multigenerational residences and for homeowners who like to entertain frequently, are sometimes installed to accommodate Jewish families who maintain a kosher diet that requires complete separation of meat and dairy products.

“We built a complete second kitchen in the basement for a rabbi and his family in addition to the full kitchen on the main level,” says Tovar.

Sumptuous Outdoor Spaces 

In Hawaii, spiritualism can sometimes take the form of hydro-therapy, says Erika Alm, vice president of sales and marketing for Kohanaiki, a luxury resort community on the Big Island.

“Swimming pools and Jacuzzis are pretty common here, but one homeowner built the Jacuzzi in the middle of a pool so you have to swim back and forth through cool water to get to the warm Jacuzzi,” says Alm. “The pool is designed to mimic the color and texture of the ocean with three layers of tile in seven different colors. When the sun hits the water just right, it creates a dapple effect on the ceiling of the whole house.”

Another buyer at the resort opted for a deep-soaking tub outside inside of a shower, set in the shade beside a lava wall covered in bougainvillea and surrounded by lush tropical plants.

“The homeowner loves to read in the tub and decided to indulge that pleasure outdoors,” says Alm.

Outdoor spaces in the Washington area can be elaborate, too, but Tovar says many homeowners want a screened porch so they can use the space during three seasons.

Home Options That Will Maximize Resale Value

From the layout to the lighting options, choices abound. When it comes time to decide on the upgrades and options that will help turn your new house into a home, it’s important to think for the future, steer clear of trends and select only those upgrades that will give you the most bang for your buck.

After talking to several industry experts, we’re here to suggest some popular new home options that will not only beautify your new living space, but will also maximize your home’s resale value should you decide to sell:

Option 1: Windows

A key feature in every room of your home, windows are paramount when it comes to lighting and beautifying a room. According to Matthew Kraus of Skyline Windows, “Many people don’t realize it, but windows are actually a very important investment. Not only can quality windows yield significant savings for homeowners throughout the years, but they can also increase the resale value of your home. Furthermore, windows also enhance the quality of your life by eliminating noise, harmful UV rays and adding to the beauty of your residence.”

Windows tend to be very expensive to change, so Kraus suggests that homeowners invest in high-performing quality windows from the get go. “Although quality windows may cost more upfront than alternatives, they will actually save homeowners more money in the long run, he says. “A properly installed, high-performance window will retain more heat during the winter and cool air during the summer; effectively lowering energy costs. Not to mention that quality windows are less likely to have service issues.”

For more on how windows can save you on energy costs and protect your home, see our article Windows That Cut Energy Costs, Protect and Defend.

Option 2: Kitchens

Often considered a home’s main gathering and entertaining spot, kitchens are ripe with upgrade opportunities and will benefit greatly from the added attention to detail. “Just about any kitchen expansion or added feature will add value to your home,” says Mark A. Mitchell, a real estate broker in Charleston. “Especially those that open the kitchen up to the home’s living or family room.”

A great way to add both value and style to your kitchen is by upgrading the cabinetry and drawer systems. Custom and semi-custom cabinetry will enable you to pick from a wider variety of finishes and higher-quality materials, as well as specialty options such as in-cabinet lighting and soft-close drawer slides. Deepening the cabinetry and expanding them upward to the ceiling will provide valuable space while also adding drama and elegance to the room.

Going green is another popular and money-saving upgrade, says Jenna Pizzigati-Coppla, owner of Pizzigati Designs in New York City. “Buyers are more interested in sustainable and responsible fixture options in their home. Be sure to purchase Energy Star and efficient kitchen appliances; buyers love these options because they are guaranteed to save a significant amount of money in the long run.”

Other popular upgrades that will make your kitchen the star of the show include: large center islands with seating and storage, undercounter lighting and granite countertops (though these have now become standard in many new kitchens). Oft considered a no-brainer upgrade, stainless steel appliances get a mixed review among experts. “They are a fad and are really hard to clean,” says blogger and draftsman Cher-Ann Texter. “Plus, if there are any dents, they stick out like a sore thumb.” Nancy Dalton of Baywolf Dalton, Inc. disagrees and considers stainless steel appliances a sought-after upgrade that will add value to the home.

Option 3: Flooring

Drawn on, spilled on and trampled daily, a home’s flooring really takes a beating. Because you want to keep this workhorse feature looking great, it’s ideal to upgrade your flooring from the start. If budget allows, experts suggest upgrading from laminate to wood or another natural alternative. Carpeting and underlay should be both plush and stain-resistant, especially in the home’s high-traffic areas.

When it comes to flooring options, Pizzigati-Coppola suggests going for the natural, long-lasting alternative. “This is another area in which I highly recommend that my clients go with eco-friendly and sustainable options. I love to use bamboo, which is naturally sustainable, extremely durable and long lasting — another huge upgrade in desirability for your home.”