Increase In Multigenerational Living Leads To Unexpected Obstacles

Kitchens and visible second entrances are proving to be tricky obstacles for builders to overcome when creating homes for multigenerational families

March 16, 2016

It used to be, if you were an adult, you had to have your own place. Extended families went from living under the same roof to all owning separate houses; Grandma and Grandpa had their house, brother and sister had their own houses, and mom and dad had their own house. Now, for a number of reasons, multigenerational living is making a comeback.

Many baby boomers are supporting their older parents as well as children who have completed college and are now struggling with finding a job and paying off their student loans. Many of these situations are transitioning from temporary to permanent, which means living spaces need to be reconfigured to allow these arrangements to remain comfortable for everyone.

But as reports, there is a problem; many local governments have rules in place disallowing second kitchens in separate guest suites. Separate entrances to these units can also be problematic. Meaning the almost 20 percent of the U.S. population that lives in a multigenerational household is having to play a cat and mouse game with local municipalities to get the living arrangements they require.

Some builders are taking some inspiration from Shakespeare in an effort to get around these regulations and are asking the question; What’s in a name? Would a kitchen, by any other name, cook so well? Service bars, convenience centers, and eat-in kitchenettes are all names given to these second kitchens in an effort by builders to skirt the rules and build homes their buyers are requesting.

Builders feel these rules are outdated and are hindering their sales. Issues like second entrances can’t be solved with a simple name change. Many municipalities do not allow exterior entrances to separate living suites, or, if they do, they can’t be visible from the street.

As more builders incorporate multigenerational homes into their marketing strategies and more buyers are looking to buy these homes, the pressure for municipalities to alter their rules is growing.

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