Monthly Archives: June 2017

Multigenerational Homes Meet Varied Needs

Paul Tsai lives with his wife and in-laws, but the 42-year-old restaurateur doesn’t feel crowded.

That’s because he lives in Riding Oaks Estates in Ann Arbor, Mich., in a multigenerational home specially designed by Horsham, Pa.-based Toll Brothers Inc., to fit the needs of multigenerational families.

When Tsai signed the contract to build the home, he added a master bedroom suite on the ground floor, in addition to the standard master on the second. The suite features a bedroom and bath along with a sitting area and large walk-in closet. The family shares a kitchen.

“This home affords us the best of both worlds,” says Tsai. “We were too cramped in our old home when (the in-laws) were in another bedroom next to our bedroom. But now with them in a separate side of the house, we’re very comfortable.”

Tsai paid an additional $120,000 over the $850,000 base price of his five-bedroom, five-and-a-half bath home to add the additional master bedroom.

Multigenerational Homes are a Growing Trend

But he’s not the only one opting to live in a multigenerational home. Whether it’s college graduates returning to the fold because they can’t find a job or elderly parents moving in with their kids to avoid the cost of senior housing, more and more people are living in multigenerational households.

According to a Pew Research Center report released last year, the number of Americans living in multigenerational family households has continued to rise. In 2014, a record 60.6 million people, or 19 percent of the U.S. population, lived with multiple generations under one roof, up from 51.5 million, or 17 percent of the population in 2009.

“Based on our demographic research, there’s going to be a huge demand for multigenerational homes,” says Lesley Deutch, a consultant with John Burns Real Estate Consulting in Boca Raton, Fla. “Part of the reason why it hasn’t caught on even more is because some municipalities classify them as two separate homes on one lot, so that can be a little tricky for builders.”

One of the ways builders avoid having multigenerational homes classified as two-families is by leaving out a stove when the house includes a separate kitchen. The kitchenette will have a sink, refrigerator and microwave, but not a stove.

Miami-based Lennar Corp. has been building multigenerational homes since 2011. Its product is called NextGen and it’s essentially a home-within-a-home, currently available in more than 300 Lennar communities in 12 states.

How Does a Multigenerational Home Work?

A typical NextGen floor plan by Lennar will include a private living room, bedroom, full bath, kitchenette and single-car garage. With a separate entrance, as well as a door into the main home, residents can spend as much or as little time as they’d like with the primary residents.

“A NextGen home is an economical solution for families and for builders, who gain some economies of scale with our building practices,” says Kim Ashbaugh, Lennar’s director of NextGen brand management. “Families can combine a mortgage, utilities, maintenance, get help with childcare or care for an aging parent — and you can do it all within the comfort of your own home.”

The cost of NextGen features is built into the price of the home, Ashbaugh says, because the builder achieves economies of scale during construction. There’s a single foundation and utility box and one roof truss system. “We were able to save a lot by doing that and pass that to our customers,” she says. “We’ve worked really hard to make this a viable solution and not make people feel we are gouging them for that additional 500 to 800 square feet of home.”

Home the Right Choice for You

So you’ve decided to build a new home. You’ve done some research into the difference between custom and production builders and you’ve started daydreaming about open floor plans. The world is your oyster. You think you’ve carefully weighed all your options — but have you considered manufactured homes?

Before your mind flashes back to trailer parks or being stuck behind a truck with its “WIDE LOAD” sign warning slowing down traffic for miles, hear us out. After all, today’s offerings aren’t your grandmother’s manufactured homes.

Setting the Story Straight

Along with modular homes, manufactured homes fall into the category of prefabricated homes. Here’s a trivia fact for you: the term “mobile home” technically refers to manufactured homes built before the HUD code governing standards for factory-built homes was instituted in 1976. Along with modular homes, manufactured homes fall into the category of prefabricated homes. Those terms are often used interchangeably, but manufactured homes are pre-constructed completely in the factory on a permanent, fixed steel chassis, while modular homes come pre-built in sections at the factory and are finished on location.

Manufactured homes can be located on private property, but many homeowners choose to live in manufactured home parks. Alfie Best, chairman of Wyldecrest Parks, one of the biggest and largest park home operators in the United Kingdom, says, “For my business, the pattern is consistent — people looking to downsize.”

Best also notes that a large percentage of their sales come from retired and semi-retired individuals and couples. In order to attract a wide range of buyers, manufactured home communities may offer amenities such as parks, swimming pools and community centers.

Quality and Customization

Contrary to the stigmas of the past, advances in construction technology have closed the gap between site-built and manufactured homes. Some manufactured homes come with landscaped lawns and garages or boast Energy Star appliances and energy-efficient HVAC systems. Though builders are able to customize manufactured homes to a greater degree than ever before — hardwood floors and granite countertops are just a few options at your disposal.

A modular homeowner herself, Shannon Miranda, principal designer and owner at Woodcliffe Design, suggests visiting the manufactured home company and touring their facility to get an idea of your options, as well as get a feel for their quality of work.

Fast and Efficient

One benefit of manufactured homes is that there is little room for error on the assembly line and weather delays or other factors do not affect production in the same way that it does a site-built home.

“Manufactured homes have an inventory of supplies, so when building is at its peak and supplies are running low, manufactured companies continued to build and meet their delivery dates. Project delays are fewer,” says Miranda.

Efficiency also results in a quick turnaround: manufactured homes can be factory-built in just a few weeks, compared to around seven months for a site-built home. “What we liked about the concept was that the structure was being built in a controlled environment in a fraction of the time it would have taken on site,” says Miranda.

Build My Manufactured Home

When it comes to affordable and flexible build-on-your lot homes, it’s hard to find an option that can beat a manufactured home. 

Also known as a prefabricated home, this type of dwelling is constructed entirely beforehand in a factory and then transported to a lot of your choice. 

While some may choose to have them transported to a park or neighborhood with other manufactured homes, others may choose to build on a lot they have chosen on their own. This begs the question, “Where can I build my manufactured home?”

What if you dream of living in the mountains? What if you want to be near the beach? Clayton Homes, which manufactures homes in 37 facilities across the nation, might have a few answers. We sat down with their vice president of marketing, Mike Duncan, to answer some of the most common questions regarding where you can put your manufactured home. 

NHS: Are there any restrictions to where you can build a manufactured home?

Duncan: Some of our facilities can manufacture custom projects, the only restraint or restriction would be the state and federal codes our homes are required to be built to. This gives a homebuyer the flexibility to be as creative as possible in designing their dream home. 

NHS: Can you describe the building and transportation process?

Duncan: All Clayton-built homes are constructed in our homebuilding facilities and then transported to their homesite. Depending on the size of the home and the location, homes can be delivered and set in various ways.

NHS: What are some special considerations you have for buyers trying to decide where to place their home?

Duncan: Buyers should be aware of all local zoning laws, as this can dictate whether or not a home can be placed in a prospective location. Aside from zoning, homebuyers should also be aware of utility access, easement access and other land issues that would need to be cleared before selecting a site. 

NHS: What are some of the most affordable options of where you can place a manufactured home?

Duncan: Manufactured homes can vary in price dramatically depending upon a number of factors including size of the home and materials and delivery site, all of which need to be considered when pricing a home. Manufactured home parks and communities that are designed and zoned to accommodate manufactured homes are generally the less expensive options. Customers can also place homes on their own private property.

NHS: What are some of the less affordable options?

Duncan: Two-story modular homes are at the higher-end price point for a Clayton-built home. These modular homes are built to applicable state and local codes and closely mimic site-built construction in look and profile. Because Clayton builds manufactured homes in a climate-controlled environment, materials are less likely to suffer from some of the weather-related issues that can plague site-built contractors. 

NHS: The term “trailer park” is a thing of the past. Are there any myths you’d like to debunk in regards to these changes?

Duncan:“Trailer park” is a term that was commonly used when referring to a manufactured home prior to HUD Code requirement changes. The term “trailer” is no longer in use for our industry. Manufactured home parks are now neighborhoods and communities that have been designated for manufactured housing. 

The Most Popular New Home Upgrades

It would be hard to miss the mountain of media pronouncements about the way American consumers were sobered by the recession and now are in more of a no-frills mode. Except, perhaps, when it comes to building their new homes.

The concept of “home” still pulls at the heartstrings and homebuilders say that upgrading certain features and adding special flourishes remains high on buyers’ shopping lists. Consumers may be leaning in a somewhat more practical direction now than they did during the spend-athon of the housing boom, but homebuyers still want what they want. And “bare bones” is not on their wish lists.

“For several years, they (buyers) sat on the sidelines to see what was going to happen (in the economy),” said Jeff Buell, co-owner of Sitterle Homes, which builds in San Antonio, Houston and Austin. “During that time, they thought about what they wanted, they saved some money, and now they’re building what they want.

“They’re not going crazy, but they’re not not doing anything,” he said. “They have more buying power because interest rates are low. They’re saying, ‘We can go ahead and add this (option) now because we can afford to.’ ”

The whole concept of what’s “standard” and what’s “optional” in a new home has itself changed over the years: Many builders took note of the kinds of features their buyers routinely favored and began incorporating them into their regular/standard offerings in order to compete better in the marketplace. Lennar, a national builder, exemplifies this trend with their “Everything’s Included” approach.

Additionally, builders have tried to streamline the sometimes-complex pricing process in choosing options by grouping them as packages — a higher grade of appliances as a group or a suite of finer plumbing products in a master bath, for example.

What home buyers are adding in the true realm of options can vary according to regional tastes, the builders said. But the hankering for hardwood floors, laid throughout an open-concept family room/kitchen, seems to transcend geography. And buyers are interested in an air of luxury in their bathrooms, particularly when it comes to their showers. In the kitchen, big work islands continue to pack an appeal — though the long-running love affair with the granite countertop may be getting a re-think, they said.

Some highlights from around the country on how homebuyers are going a step or two beyond their builders’ basic offerings:

Making a Splash in the Bath

The tub and the shower are increasingly separate, according to Julia Humphrey, a designer who works with buyers on behalf of Savvy Homes, a builder in several North Carolina markets. And that shower option is increasingly likely to be tiled, rather than a standardized stall, she said.

Although Humphrey said buyers are still interested in upgrading from a standard to a jumbo tub, buyers who may have had such an oversized tub previously seem willing to forgo it in their next home because they never seemed to use it much — filling and soaking in it consumes time they never seem to be able to spare, she said.

In some cases, the master bath will have no tub at all, according to Kevin Beauchesne, whose Bryson City Log Homes in North Carolina specializes in building log homes. His options aren’t just any old shower stall — the “grotto showers” that his customers have opted for lately are almost cave-like, and somewhat in keeping with the rusticity his buyers are seeking.

“Think of it as if you had found a natural quarry where the setting had been carved out of stone, that the shower itself looked like it’s been carved out of the earth,” and walled by boulders, he said. “Once I show it to people in one of the models we have, they want it.”

In the Kitchen

It’s increasingly an “island” nation, and the bigger the center island you can offer as an option in kitchens, the better, the builders said.

Builders said buyers are seeking larger islands as the centerpiece of their kitchen. Buyers picture their guests being able to lean against the island or sit at the same level to talk.The same holds true for countertop eating areas found in many homes.

Mary DeWalt, an award-winning model home merchandiser (AKA designer), works with Jimmy Jacobs Custom Homes in Austin, Texas and several other builders.