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Remodeling Magazine brings you an article on a popular housing trend – Multigenerational Housing

Two things motivated Michael Litchfield to write the book In-Laws, Outlaws, and Granny Flats: downsizing and moving into an outbuilding on a renovated farm compound in California and increasingly hearing from his remodeler contacts about the requests they were getting for in-law suites.

Litchfield points to several trends driving the increase he has seen in accessory dwelling units (ADUs). Baby boomers are retiring and are thinking about how they can stay in their homes as they age. Many of them are also caring for their aging parents. “This intersects with another trend: soaring health care costs, which continue to rise in good times and bad,” Litchfield says.

Some baby boomers view ADUs as an income opportunity as they retire and downsize — choosing to live in an in-law suite and rent out the main house. For others, “boomerang” adult children are, due to economic stresses, returning to live with their parents.

Many immigrants also want ADUs for extended family. “New arrivals from Asia and Latin America favor multigenerational living,” Litchfield says. And, he adds, the U.S. has the highest percentage of single-parent households among industrial nations. “We need a more flexible housing setup to accommodate all of these shifting households and cultures.”

Things in Common

Jeff Brecko, vice president of Aurora Custom Remodeling, in Ponte Vedra Beach, Fla., has seen in-law suite inquiries increase. “In some cases there is a specific need,” he says. “In others, there might be a desire to add a second master suite or a guest wing. Although they are driven by different impulses, they end up being similar in design and the elements they want to incorporate,” Brecko says.

These elements include a living/family room, a first-floor bed/bath, and separate access, and some type of kitchen or morning bar. “It’s more a case of how flexible they want the space to be,” he says, noting that the core solution is creating an adjacent space that still feels separate — like on-site lodging.

Litchfield says the projects range from basement or attic renovations to garage conversions to additions or outbuildings.

The least intrusive project completed by Aurora Custom Remodeling involved converting a garage to accommodate visiting guests. A more extensive project involved a home­owner whose daughter and her family moved into the main house, and the remodeler built an in-law suite that connected to the house through the existing master bedroom.

Aurora has also converted master bedrooms into guest suites and then added a full suite to the main house for the homeowner. “Shouldn’t the full-time resident be living in a new, fantastic area?” Brecko asks.

—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING

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