Thursday, June 20, 2024

Homes designed for multi-generational living – The Hindu

Multi-generational living, now a growing trend, refers to families, consisting of many generations from grandparents to grandchildren, who choose to live together under one roof. The reasons for this type of living arrangement range from financial benefits to cultural traditions, and has become an increasingly popular option for families.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further accelerated this trend, with many families choosing to live together to ensure the safety of their loved ones.

Multi-generational homebuying is nearing an all-time high, according to the National Association of Realtors‘ Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers report. In 2022, multi-generational homebuying increased to 14%, up from 11% in 2021, according to the report.

Real estate developers and builders have made note of this and are adapting to accommodate the idea.

New homes are being designed with additional living spaces, such as mother-in-law suites, to provide more privacy and space for the extended family members.

Architect Bhavesh Mewada from Mumbai says, “In addition to offering the regular 2, 3 and 4BHK flats, developers are expanding their customer base.

They are providing the option of half bedrooms, which psychologically sum up to be an extra room in the project. With changing family structures, the extra half configuration could serve as a tech room, a den, a lounge, or even a cosy bedroom. Many families have started living together as a joint family. The concept of ‘mother-in-law suite’ or ‘in-laws suite’ is in demand.”

Real estate agents are also being trained to better understand the needs and preferences of multi-generational families when it comes to homebuying. According to a survey by John Burns Real Estate Consulting, 46% of real estate agents reported an increase in demand for multi-generational homes in 2020.

One of the main drivers is the economic factor, as rising housing costs and student debt make it challenging for younger generations to afford their own homes. In many cases, parents and grandparents are financially supporting their adult children and grandchildren by sharing living expenses.

Cultural factors also play a significant role. There are changing attitudes towards ageing, with many families valuing the knowledge and experience that older generations bring to the household.

Additionally, in many Indian families, it is considered a duty to care for ageing parents and grandparents, and living together as a family is seen as a way to provide support and care for older family members. Caregiving responsibilities can be shared, reducing the financial burden, as multiple family members can contribute towards the expenditure.

Interior designer Priyanka Gupta says, “This practice takes care of the needs of all the three or four generations. Though not new to India, it is now being implemented in multi-storey apartments when a family buys two adjacent flats with one common area. Making a multi-functional home in India is not difficult for any architect or interior designer as builders give their clients the privilege of modifying their homes. A duplex that is internally connected with a different floor access, a penthouse with two entrances, row houses with two different porches… all of this, and more, is possible. Children can have a play zone, seniors a calm sit-out, and the others a functional space as per their needs.”

That said, demographic factors also contribute to the rise of multi-generational living in India. Most families feel stranded when a health setback strikes. Living together can provide a solution with more than one member of the family pitching in to tackle a crisis of any kind, when it should arise.

Further, immigration patterns have led to an increase of such arrangements, with relatives from other countries moving in to India.

Tangible benefits

One prime advantage is the finance, as the contribution from everyone can help reduce the overall expenditure of the household. With rising housing costs in many parts of the country, multi-generational living arrangements can help families to save money and live more comfortably.

Social and emotional advantages are also a key benefit. Living together as a family can provide increased support and companionship, which is especially important for those at a risk of social isolation. Multi-generational living can also lead to intergenerational bonding, as family members of different ages spend time together and learn from one another.

Inevitable challenges

One of the primary challenges is privacy concerns. With multiple generations living under one roof, it can be difficult for family members to find a space to call their own. This can be especially challenging for young people who may need their own space to study or socialise with friends.

Another challenge is the potential for conflicts to arise due to different lifestyle preferences. For example, older family members may have traditional values, while younger ones may have modern or progressive values. These differences can lead to disagreements and conflicts, which can be difficult to resolve.

Real estate developers in India are also adapting to the trend of multi-generational living by offering more housing options that cater to the needs of extended families. For example, some developers are designing homes with separate living spaces or offering granny flats and ADUs (Accessory Dwelling Units) as an additional space.

The way out

One way the industry is adapting to this growing trend is through changes in home design. Homes with features such as more bedrooms and bathrooms, separate living spaces, and even multiple kitchens are a good bet.

Another way is through the increased availability of housing options. Granny flats are becoming increasingly popular in India. Some developers are building ADUs as part of their residential projects to cater to the growing demand for multi-generational housing. Additionally, some developers are building communities designed for multi-generational living. These communities provide shared amenities and spaces to foster intergenerational relationships.

Architect Vimal Karwal says, “Designing multi-generational homes is about empathy, understanding, and a deep appreciation for the unique needs and preferences of each generation. The key to a successful design is to strike a balance between privacy and shared spaces, while considering the needs and preferences of all generations. In addition, designing for multi-generational homes requires additional features such as accessibility, and safety measures such as grab bars and non-slip surfaces. It’s also important to incorporate smart technology and energy-efficient features to accommodate the diverse needs of different generations. When it comes to layouts, creating separate living areas for each generation, with a shared space for socialising and bonding, is mostly preferred. Providing enough privacy for each family unit could mean designing separate entrances, bedrooms, and bathrooms.”

The writer is Director, Eros Group.

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