Multi-Generational Houses: The New Normal? by Winter Park Orlando Florida architect, John Henry

Services for Real Estate Pros with John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. 13013

About two weeks ago I was approached by a local custom builder to revamp an existing house design in plan and elevations in order to offer for sale to a client from Miami.  The client liked the builder's model in a smaller high-end subdivision but needed changes to the plan to accommodate him and his son, both doctors who are moving to Orlando. The facade needed more windows and had to be different from the model house just a few lots down.  The house above is the new elevation and the meeting is actually this afternoon for the builder to seal the deal.

After reading a fine tutorial by Debb and Bernie for a multigenerational house, I realized that this is exactly what I am doing right now. 

In July of last year, I posted information about multi-generational houses and living as was typical in the 'old country'.  If you missed it, please click here to see some more background information and details about one or two of the houses I have designed in the past.


The statistics are surprising: 20% of all Americans are living in multi-generational houses, over 60 million people -- and the rate is rising.  There are a few reasons cited:  marrying late, higher levels of immigration, cost of housing, financially capable Baby Boomers, need for in-house caregivers.

The definition given: 

The U.S. Census Bureau defines multigenerational families as those consisting of more than two generations living under the same roof.

Multi-generational housing design, however, may be a little late catching up to this trend.  The last recession saw a spike in Millennials living at home with parents.  And if many family members and friends are simply living together to share expenses, the result is a crowded situation where privacy concerns cannot be met.  Existing single-family housing is being simply converted to multigenerational use.

Of course, MultiGen living is not a new concept.  In this country and abroad, throughout Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, years ago it was the absolute norm and continues to this day here and overseas.  Grandparents were cared for by their children while the younger generation was tended to by the oldest and the middle generation continued to work and provide for all.

In the U.S. and other first world countries with the rise of adult care and medical facilities outside the home, the bonds between family members has weakened.

Economics is always a prominent reason to consider a MultiGen house, and even good friends can split the costs of ownership and maintenance.  A good contract is important in these cases.

I worked up another video presentation of the multigeneration house concept.  Please see below: 

Are you seeing this type of approach/construction trending in your area and what do you think about the projects that are being built?  How does resale compare to traditional single-family homes?  Are these homes well-received in single-family subdivisions?  Do they need their separate zoning?

I think a two-story house has a better way of offering privacy to two generations, with bedrooms and one living area given over to each, with communal spaces typically on the first floor, but in the link I provided you will see the main Living, Kitchen and Dining area on the second floor.

(From medieval times and before, a tradesperson and family would work on the ground floor and have living areas above.  In the countryside, the living areas were developed above the barn for animals below.)


Re-Blogged 1 time:

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  1. Ron Barnes 08/10/2019 06:54 AM
Real Estate Industry
multigen houses
multigenerational architects plan
multigenerational design

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Gordon Crawford
Gordon Crawford Home Selling Team - Morristown, NJ
Your Morris County Specialist!

Great post, John Henry.  Haven't seen the multigen housing here yet, but I can see where it would be a growing trend.  

Aug 08, 2019 06:11 AM #27
Sham Reddy CRS
H E R Realty, Dayton, OH - Dayton, OH

Multigenerational living is a necessity is many cultures inclding the one I grew up in.  Of course you have to give some privacy to gain lot of living expenses

Aug 08, 2019 06:22 AM #28
Scott Godzyk
Godzyk Real Estate Services - Manchester, NH
One of the Manchester NH's area Leading Agents

I am definately seeing an increase in them here in NH as well. 

Aug 08, 2019 06:39 AM #29
Dörte Engel
RE/MAX Leading Edge - Bowie, MD
ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland

Dear John,

An old idea revived. What really needs to happen is a change in zoning rules. Locally, one county is changing their rules to allow tighter housing and multi-units. Since houses can last a century or more, it would be good to make the design flexible, so future owners can use it differently. I have seen little home offices, student housing, AirBnBs & many other uses for accessory dwelling units or in-law suites. Great topic.

Aug 08, 2019 07:13 AM #30
Michael Rasch
International Property Finder - Property Option - Hallandale Beach, FL
Michael Rasch 305-741-1819

My very old long time ago business was Victoria Restoration, I could tell you what year your home was built by looking at the 2x4's ( been around forever and over time the real dimensions have changed) 

Anyway, you might want to look at the past to determine the needs of the future: for example, the Seniors (gram's) bedroom was always first floor, near the kitchen and had it's own bathroom. Then of course you had living room, dinning room, family room ( library ) and the kitchen which was huge with a table in the center. and of course the sun parlor or sewing room 

Stairs to the second floor always lead to the first 2 bedrooms ( left and right T intersection ) being the kid rooms ( the oldest having the room towards the street side view ), then walk along the veranda, and you'll  encounter another bedroom and the full bath for the kids. keep going and then you'll get to mom and dad's room. which has everything plus a ton of closets and it's own bathroom. 

Aug 08, 2019 07:42 AM #31
Gene Mundt, IL/WI Mortgage Originator - FHA/VA/Conv/Jumbo/Portfolio/Refi
NMLS #216987, IL Lic. 031.0006220, WI Licensed. APMC NMLS #175656 - New Lenox, IL
708.921.6331 - 40+ yrs experience

Our youngest son is considering making this move with his in-laws right now, John Henry ... what is old is new again ...

Congrats on a very deserving and interesting Feature!


Aug 08, 2019 08:01 AM #32
Grant Schneider
Performance Development Strategies - Armonk, NY
Your Coach Helping You Create Successful Outcomes

Good morning John - very well deserved feature.  This is a great idea and making multigenerational home designs like you have been doing is going to make it even more popular.

Aug 08, 2019 08:15 AM #33
John Marshall - FORE!
LoKation Real Estate - Cherry Hills Village, CO
Specializing in Golf Course Properties

In Denver we have seen a couple builders add multi-gen homes to their inventory, and I love the concept, I recently sold two custom homes that were both designed for two families

Aug 08, 2019 08:42 AM #34
Mike Easton
Movement Bank - Charlotte, NC
Creative lending solutions from coast to coast

I love my in laws and so does my wife but I think being that close to them might cause a rift eventually...also the multi generational housing would be something that not all buyers are interested in so wouldnt that hurt the resale potential and DOM??

Aug 08, 2019 08:44 AM #35
Jill Sackler
Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. 516-575-7500 - Long Beach, NY
LI South Shore Real Estate - Broker Associate

This is absolutely the trend. I started seeing this with young couples years ago. It's beneficial to everyone involved.

Aug 08, 2019 11:01 AM #36
Jonathan Hall
William Pitt Sotheby's International Realty - Danbury, CT
Realtor - Danbury,CT Area Real Estate~203-417-0523

I recently sold a teradown to a client so they could built a multi-generational home. They couldn't find anything acceptable in our market even with a sizable budget that was suitable as they needed a fully accessible in-law that was well connected into the main area of the house. 

Aug 08, 2019 11:04 AM #37
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author

As long as everyone has their private space....its all good and doable

Aug 08, 2019 01:10 PM #38
John Wiley
Fort Myers, FL
Lee County, FL, ECO Broker, GRI, SRES,GREEN,PSA

Great post.

Here in SW Florida, there are several builders that put Multigenerational Homes in their subdivision. It is a growing trend.

Baby Boomers, who thought they were about ready to down size, found they had a parent that they needed to bring into their home. At the same time, their Millennial child finished college and could not get a job and they came home. Mixing 3 generations is tricky in a regular home.

I think more builders need to add this to their floor plan selection.

Aug 08, 2019 04:24 PM #39
Monique Ting
INET Realty Honolulu, HI - Honolulu, HI
Your agent under the sun

Aloha from Hawaii where the concept of multi-generation housing has been paracticed for decades ... Here those homes are called "Ohana" dwellings and they are quite popular. It is about time the rest of the country embraces the trend and sees the advantages of having several generations live under the same roof, while still having some privacy!

Aug 09, 2019 08:20 AM #40
Patrick Willard
Rio Rancho, NM

We had some family friends when I was growing up that had about 3 acres and behind the main house they built a small house for the grand parents. I had another friend who's dad built a small two BR home on his poperty behind his house for my friend's older sister who was divorced with two children. My friend, Norman, and I would often baby sit for his sister. These living situations used to be fairly common.

Aug 09, 2019 10:14 AM #41
Ron Barnes
Associate Broker at Berkshire Hathaway Home Services Georgia Properties - Jasper, GA
"Most agents claim they're #1 - I THINK YOU'RE #1!

Very interesting! We have a "senior heavy" community, and this comes up all the time.

Aug 10, 2019 06:52 AM #42
Debb Janes EcoBroker and Bernie Stea JD
ViewHomes of Clark County - Nature As Neighbors - Camas, WA
REALTORS® in Clark County, WA

Finally got a chance to watch the video. Well done. And, personally we sell many more two stories to multigen does work better for privacy issues. We also sell homes with ADU's quite frequently. That's another great option when the living space doesn't need to be equal. Example; we have a current listing with a larger two story home,the  young family and two kids live there, a breezeway connects to an smaller ADU for the wife's parents.  

Aug 10, 2019 07:03 AM #43
Mary Hutchison, SRES, ABR
Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate-Kansas City Homes - Kansas City, MO
Experienced Agent in Kansas City Metro area

Huge demand for multi gen housing however.... available land to build it is farther and farther out, encouraging the car culture which many younger folks don't like...and it can be very expensive.   Adding an addition, if the space is there on an existing lot, is an option but also pricy for many pp.  I'm all for it!

Aug 12, 2019 08:54 AM #44
Peter Mohylsky, Beach Expert
PrimeSouth Properties - Santa Rosa Beach, FL

What are the trends in 2020?  Does someone have a crystal ball that I can borrow?  I know what I like and what works for me.  but it is not about me in the least.  it is all about my clients.  

Jan 21, 2020 01:25 PM #45
John Henry, Florida Architect
John Henry Masterworks Design International, Inc. - Orlando, FL
Residential Architect, Luxury Custom Home Design

Hello Peter Mohylsky, Beach Expert   General trends seem to be: the same as before.  From my perspective we are steady state with possibly a building inventory on multifamily and condos in certain growth areas.  Multi-gen continues to be about 20% of single family type housing but may ebb a little if immigrant controls effectively block the influx.  Thank you.

Jan 21, 2020 02:06 PM #46
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