The Multiplier Effect: Multi-generational Housing

By Susan Bady

A kitchen-living multigenerational suite in a development by Maracay Homes in Mesa, Arizona.

In 2011, with the housing market still in a slump, Lennar Corp. introduced its NextGen line of homes to multigenerational buyers in Arizona, California, and Nevada. Over the next two years, Lennar expanded the NextGen brand to 130 communities across the United States and in such diverse markets as Minnesota, New Jersey, North Carolina, and Texas. To date, Lennar has sold 1,100 NextGen homes.

Granted, 850 of those sales happened in the West. But Jeff Roos, the Aliso Viejo, Calif.-based president of Lennar’s West Region, is confident that NextGen will pick up steam as Americans continue to double up. “We’ve created a home within a home,” says Roos.
 
The concept isn’t rocket science, but it works. There’s a lock-off suite—a separate kitchenette, bedroom, and bathroom in the main house—with its own entrance, giving the occupants privacy and autonomy but not isolating them from the rest of the family.

Prior to World War II, multigenerational households were commonplace in America. Many Baby Boomers remember growing up under the same roof with mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, siblings, and sometimes uncles, aunts, and cousins. Fond memories aside, with everyone living in close proximity there was bound to be some tension. 
 
“Certainly we love our family and friends, but after a while it gets a little bit old,” Roos says. Concepts like NextGen are an opportunity for extended households to have the best of both worlds.
 
According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 5.1 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. There are three demographic drivers of this trend: 
 
• Boomers who would normally be downsizing at this stage of their lives are trading up. They’re sometimes referred to as The Sandwich Generation because they still have children living at home as well as elderly parents. For economic as well as other reasons, many Boomers won’t put their aging parents in an assisted-living facility or nursing home...

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Originally Published in Professional Builder

03/05/2014