Monday, April 18, 2016
About 4 years ago I proposed to an Architect acquaintance that we colloborate on a book on multi gen housing. It was just starting to become a point of interest and I wanted to be on the front end prior to the big boys (as in business builders) jumping in the pool and drowning out the concept.
And sure enough they are there and in earnest creating the new McMansions under the concept the multi gen home. They are big, they are sprawling and they are not very green. To have multiple kitchens, living suites and separate entrances it is akin to housing adjacent, not shared housing.
To understand the dynamics you need a communication system established, clear private areas and clear common areas in which to encourage collaboration on meals, personal needs and of course home management issues. I was hoping he could draw designs that provided such concepts and that I would discuss the ways people be they related or simply connected by choice to live in a co-op housing arrangement.
He never got back to me and well given that I just read an amazing article by women architects, whom after the death of Zaha Hadid, one of the few women who shone in the industry; her peers however find themselves out in the cold when it comes to both professional respect and recognition I should feel relieved. I don't. It is why I finally packed in my consulting cap and decided to return to the classroom. It is not what I want to do but have to do as we need men, particularly young men, to realize that women are strong role models and can be influential, interesting even when we are prone versus supine.
I am still a big advocate on multi gen housing but this is not the one I advocate for.
Multigenerational Homes That Fit Just Right Retiring
The New York Times
By JANET MORRISSEY
APRIL 8, 2016
Bob and Myrna Conrad, both 65, share a house with their son Wade, 41, his wife Dana, 42, and their grandson Bryce, 21. Isn’t it crowded? Don’t they cramp one another’s style? Actually, no. “We just set some ground rules, and it’s been working great,” said Wade Conrad, who has been living with his extended family since late 2013 in a NextGen multigenerational home, built by the Lennar Corporation, in Spanaway, Wash., near Tacoma.
The Conrads are among a growing number of families who are seeking specially designed homes that can accommodate aging parents, grown children and even boomerang children under the same roof. The number of Americans living in multigenerational households — defined, generally, as homes with more than one adult generation — rose to 56.8 million in 2012, or about 18.1 percent of the total population, from 46.6 million, or 15.5 percent of the population in 2007, according to the latest data from Pew Research. By comparison, an estimated 28 million, or 12 percent, lived in such households in 1980. “People lost jobs, and with tighter household budgets, a lot of homes consolidated,” said Aaron Terrazas, a senior economist at Zillow, the home pricing website.
“We’re seeing more children living with their parents and elderly parents moving in with their adult children.” Most multigenerational families, of course, live in ordinary houses, but the homebuilding industry is responding quickly to this shifting demand by creating homes specifically intended for such families. The Lennar homes don’t offer just a spare bedroom suite or a “granny hut” that sits separately on the property or a room above a garage. The NextGen designs provide a separate entranceway, bedroom, living space, bathroom, kitchenette, laundry facilities and, in some cases, even separate temperature controls and separate garages with a lockable entrance to the main house. Family members can live under the same roof and not see one another for days if they so choose.
Wade Conrad acknowledged he was initially skeptical when his father suggested they buy a home together. Mr. Conrad, along with his wife and two children, had twice moved back home with his parents during job transitions — the most recent lasting a year in 2007 — and it did not go well, he said. Back then, they butted heads over everything: food, parenting decisions, furniture choices and even TV programs. “My dad watches the news 24/7, and I can’t stand the news,” Mr. Conrad recalled. “We’d gather for dinner and he’d just mute the TV, but the news would still be on. It drove us crazy,” he said with a laugh. Mr. Conrad prefers shows like “The Walking Dead” and “Arrested Development,” while his parents, he said, like “cheesy Hallmark feel-goody movies.” “I’m not a zombie fan,” his father conceded. Even doing the dishes was a bone of contention. “They like to hand-wash all their dishes and we like using the dishwasher,” Bob Conrad said. All these irritating memories came rushing back as Mr. Conrad pondered his father’s suggestion. But once he saw the NextGen home, he was sold. Mr. Conrad moved his family from their crowded 1,000-square-foot townhome into the 5,000-square-foot NextGen home. They set some rules: No TV in the large common area, food is bought separately, all other expenses are split down the middle. For the grandparents, who had been living in St. Louis, the spacious new home was an ideal way to reconnect with family. “It ended up being the best decision we could ever envision,” the elder Mr. Conrad said. “And my son can watch all the ‘Walking Dead’ episodes he wants.”
So what’s driving this trend? The 2008 recession, high student loan debt, rising rents, and a tough job market for millennials caused many people ages of 18 to 34 to delay leaving home, said Alex Barron, founder of the Housing Research Center. And then there are boomerang children, who are adults who return to their parents’ home because of a job loss, divorce or other reason.
On the flip side, baby boomers are living longer than previous generations. Many are planning ahead in hopes that they can devote more attention to their children and grandchildren — and spend little, if any, time in a nursing home. Multigenerational living is “growing in popularity,” said Robert Curran, a managing director at Fitch Ratings. With roughly 10,000 baby boomers turning 65 each day for the next 17 years, interest in such arrangements is unlikely to wane anytime soon. Lennar was one of the first major builders to tap this market when it introduced its NextGen homes in 2012 in Phoenix.
“We were seeing a lot of people doubling up as a result of job losses or foreclosures, so we saw this as a solution to help accommodate that,” said Jeff Roos, a regional president at Lennar. Lennar has since expanded the model to more than 200 communities in 24 markets. It sold 1,100 NextGen homes in 2015, compared with 280 in 2012. Mr. Roos estimates that NextGen homes now account for about 5 percent of Lennar’s total home sales, compared with 2 percent in 2012.
“I think it will be even more popular five years from now,” he said. Other builders, including Toll Brothers and the CalAtlantic Group, have jumped into the market as well. Jim and Becky Cadd bought a Toll Brothers multigenerational home in Baltimore to accommodate Ms. Cadd’s aunt and Mr. Cadd’s mother. After the couple married in June 2013, Ms. Cadd and her aunt, 72-year-old Barbara Spangler, moved into Mr. Cadd’s home, where his mother, Terry Cadd, also lived. Suddenly having everybody living under the same roof was trying. “My wife would be cooking dinner in the kitchen, and my mother, with her walker, would be ratcheting by,” Mr. Cadd said, “and then you had Barb trying to feed the dog.”
Tensions intensified further when Ms. Cadd gave birth to the couple’s first child, and her mother-in-law broke her hip in 2014. “It was Jim, me, my daughter, my mother-in-law with her walker, my aunt, two dogs and toys in a very small family room — a square box,” Ms. Cadd said. “I like to describe it as a fishbowl.” And when the couple wanted to relax in front of the TV, they said, their older housemates often commandeered the TV controls or filled up the DVR with shows like “M*A*S*H,” “The Golden Girls” or “Matlock.” “We love them dearly, but we needed our own space,” Mr. Cadd said.
The Toll Brothers multigenerational home resolved this. Now, the elder Ms. Cadd and Ms. Spangler each have their own bedroom, kitchenette and living area. Toll Brothers offers the multigenerational option in all of its 300 locations in 50 markets in 19 states. The niche accounted for about 5 percent of Toll’s sales last year, compared with 1 percent in its first year in 2012.
As for the Conrads, they say the arrangement has brought the family closer than ever. But they acknowledge it’s not for everybody. “Don’t do it if you don’t have love for each other, a commitment to living life together, and an ability to compromise,” Bob Conrad said. “For us, it was the right thing at the right place at the right time — and it works.”