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The Pros and Cons of Multi-Generational Home Designs

Pros and Cons of Multi-generational Home Designs


The trend of multi-generational homes is gaining popularity in the USA. In other countries, these homes have long been considered the norm. Many have always lived in complexes or compounds with their family. The phrase "it takes a village to raise a child" is easier to understand when your grandparents and cousins live with you, too.


What is a multi-generational home?

The U.S. Census Bureau defines multi-generational housing as three or more generations of one family living permanently under one roof.

While most homes in the USA tend to be single-family homes, the rise of the house plan with a "mother-in-law suite" introduced many families to the idea of multi-generational living. Typically, a suite of this kind was like a second primary bedroom but with a few added features, like a kitchenette or its own large bathroom.

But to make multi-generational living even more manageable, many families are now turning to living in duplex designs together. These divided homes have typically been occupied by more than one family, but in modern times, family units are joining together.

Image of craftsman style, 2-story duplex home

This remarkable Craftsman-style duplex design is perfect for building on a narrow lot, as the plan is only 40 feet wide. Each of the two units enjoys an open floor plan on the main level, making everything feel nice and big. Each unit has three bedrooms upstairs, meaning a large family has plenty of space. This would be a perfect plan for grandparents who don't need daily assistance and want to live nearby. Plan #100-1311


Benefits of living in a multi-generational home

Here are some main reasons multi-generational homes are gaining popularity in the United States. 

Parents are close by as they age

The stress of aging parents living alone can overwhelm most of us. If they were to require urgent medical assistance, it's easy to worry about how long it would take someone to find out they are hurt and get to them. These worries can be compounded if you live in a city other than your parents, let alone another country.

Living in the same home allows you to support your parents in their everyday lives. This might mean simply being nearby to assist in administering medication or driving them to appointments and events. It might even mean providing round-the-clock care for your parents.

Whatever level of involvement is required, it's easier for everyone when they are already in your home with their own designated space. In fact, AARP reports that 90% of people would rather stay in their homes instead of moving to a care facility as they age. Multi-generational living makes this dream more of a possible reality.

Smaller financial burden for everyone

When there are more adults living under one roof, expenses can be reduced drastically. Typically, no one lives there as a guest in a multi-generational home. Instead, most adults contribute to the household.

This would relieve the burden of the more significant expenses like the mortgage and utilities and everyday expenses like streaming services and grocery bills. In addition, if multiple generations live in the home together and are still working, it is easier to secure a larger mortgage. This is essential as a larger mortgage could ensure a larger home, so everyone has plenty of room.

More supervision for children

There is nothing like having a built-in babysitter, especially for young working parents. One of the main benefits of living with your extended family is having more help taking care of your children. For example, if you work from home and need someone to take care of your toddler while in a meeting, your mom or dad is already in the house.

The same could be said the other way around, too. Perhaps your son needs someone to pick up the kids from soccer practice because he is running late – no worries! You can do it since you live in the same house as the children. Being close by and having the roles of parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles all overlap can foster stronger family bonds.

Image of ranch style duplex with 3 bedrooms and 1248 square feet per unit

This fantastic duplex has a total of six bedrooms, four baths, and 2496 square feet. Each unit is a mirror image of the other, with three bedrooms and two baths each. At 1248 square feet per unit and an open floor plan, you'll have plenty of space to entertain, especially with front and rear porches. One of the benefits of this duplex is that it is truly single-story living. The only small step is the entrance to the home which could easily be converted to no step. This makes this home perfect for parents or families who may need handicap accessibility. Plan #142-1453


Drawbacks to living with multiple generations

Multi-generational homes are a great way to share costs and spend quality time together as a family, but living this way isn't for everyone. Here are some main reasons people live in single-family units instead. 

Less privacy for younger members of the family

Most would consider the biggest drawback of living with more than just your nuclear family is a perceived lack of privacy. When more family members are under one roof, there is more room for a possible invasion of personal space.

An example of this would be your parents witnessing a private argument between you and your spouse or your children preventing your elderly parents from being able to rest when they would like. While most of these conflicts can be worked out, they are more likely to occur in this kind of living situation, which is a deterrent for some families.

Possibility of generational or cultural clashing

If you live in a multi-generational household, there are plenty of opportunities for lifestyle clashes. You might have brought your parents to live with you from abroad, so you need to find a happy medium between their customs and yours.

It's also possible that parents from the same cultural background as you might still have very different opinions on raising your children. If you live in the same home, it can be harder to set the boundaries you would like as you are always together all the time.

The decision to live together across generations is a very personal choice. If you are considering taking the plunge, here are a few of our favorite homes to get you started in your search.


Best multi-generational house plans

Here are some of our favorite plans to get you started with multi-generational housing.

Image of modern farmhouse with optional in law suite and frotn porch

This stunning modern farmhouse plan is an excellent option for those who want to live all under one roof and prefer to share living and dining facilities with each other. In this case, the oldest generation in the home would live in the "in-laws" suite. This way, they can enjoy the privacy of their own bedroom and bathroom, which is set off from the rest of the house.

In this particular plan, the in-law suite is optional, so that you can build the house with or without it. If you choose to build the house without it, the home's layout makes it rather simple to go back and build an addition later. This makes it a perfect choice for homeowners considering having their parents move in down the line but are not ready just yet. Without the option, this beautiful farmhouse offers three bedrooms, 3.5 baths, and a 3-car garage. Plan #106-1324


Image of craftsman-style duplex with one story on one side and 1.5 stories on the other

This craftsman-style duplex with ranch influences is perfect for a family that would like some bedrooms upstairs and some on the main level. The first unit offers three bedrooms (2 upstairs and one down), 2.5 baths, an open floor plan, and 1647 square feet of living space. The second unit offers two bedrooms (all on the main level), one bath, an open floor plan, and 1123 square feet of living space. Plan #108-1852.


Traditional style duplex with large windows, 1148 square feet per unit and an open floor plan

This wonderful traditional-style duplex with Acadian influences has plenty of curb appeal! Each unit offers three bedrooms (all upstairs), 1.5 baths, and 1148 square feet of living space. The main level has an open floor plan, a laundry room, and a kitchen with an eat-in peninsula. Plan #193-1246


Ranch-style duplex with spacious front porch, 3 bedrooms and 2 baths per unit

The fantastic layout of this ranch-style duplex makes this plan a perfect choice for a multi-generational family. Each unit offers three bedrooms, two baths, a 2-car garage, and 1195 square feet of living space. The kitchen has a breakfast bar and pantry, but our favorite feature of this home is the spacious front porch - which would be great for morning coffee or afternoon lemonade. Plan #120-2657


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