Do you know people who are looking for homes that can house more than two generations of people? Perhaps you have decided that now would be a good time for your parent(s) to move in with you. What's the best plan for a suite? How much extra space will be needed? What should you consider when planning a suite for your mother or mother-in-law? Generations ago, it was common practice to look after elderly relatives. As our lives became more hectic and fewer parents had the option of being a home maker, there was a shift towards assisted living and senior homes for relatives who would benefit from additional supports and social interaction.
Today with the cost of living going up, and with our population living longer and staying healthier, many parents are moving in with their children. Often, the parent who moves in with their children and grandchildren is the mother or grandmother, and hence the terms, "granny suite" and "granny flat" have become popular.
What to Look for in a Granny Suite
General Google searches for homes with suites will bring a range of results including garage apartments, basement apartments, and attic apartments. Because stairs become an issue for almost all of us at some point, many of these suites do not make suitable granny flats.
Granny suites, or granny flats, should be easily accessible, private, spacious, and adhere to local codes and by-laws. Main floor suites often resolve the issue of accessibility. Good layout plans and soundproofing help maintain privacy. As well, in-laws should have enough space for their belongings and a place to entertain guests.
Other features that can make aging parents feel more comfortable include: walk-in closets, extra space around the toilet, a trackless shower, backing materials in the walls for grab bars, lots of good lighting, and vinyl or linoleum flooring and rounded corners to reduce injuries.
Good Granny Flat Designs & Multigenerational Homes
For economical reasons, multigenerational house plans are gaining popularity. In fact, multigenerational home sales have been steadily increasing since 2008. Many seniors are having trouble affording their own place and assisted living is very expensive. Multigenerational homes allow families to share resources and live in nicer homes.
Contemporary semi-detached, or duplex homes, often answer the problem of how to maintain privacy. A basic, level entry, semi-detached home plan with basements can provide a good starting design. With this type of plan, each side of the main floor includes an entry, kitchen, dining room, living room, bathroom, and master bedroom. Each basement has bedrooms, a family room, laundry, and storage. In some cases, the granny suite consists of half the main level, (about a quarter of the home) leaving the entire basement for younger family members who need extra bedrooms and storage space. For a quieter senior, who doesn't appreciate a lot of overhead noise, this design allows granny to be on the top floor, while still having a level entry.
Some multi-generational home plans include shared common areas and entrances. Although more expensive, these designs allow families to share relaxing time together while still maintaining privacy. Comfortable gathering areas might include large entrances, recreational rooms, libraries, sun rooms, patios, decks, and outdoor areas.
If privacy is a main concern, a separate home attached to the main home by a breezeway, or a separate "guest" house are also popular options.
Living with Extended Family
In many cases, multi-generational living arrangements can benefit all involved when finances are pooled and a nicer home can be shared. Additional extra funds may give the grandparents the freedom to pursue retirement dreams such as traveling. As well, assisting older family members and understanding their changing needs is easier when they are nearby. Living together can also benefit the younger set of parents and grandchildren if grandparents are able to be more involved and can help with child care.