Can’t we all just get along? Blame it on the recession, student debt, or the surge of baby boomers now aging in place (or shall we say in their children’s place), we’re facing the very real trend of multi-generational living.
According to the 2012 Census, a record 52 million Americans lived in a multi-generational household that year.
And some builders are reaping the benefits of serving this growing market.
Big Changes Part 4: Multi-Family Living Made Easy
It was a theme that resounded throughout the International Builders’ Show (IBS). In the session Designing for Multi-Generational Living, panelists discussed the growing trend of boomerang kids moving back in with parents, the boomers moving in with their children and other generations making the decision to coexist in the same home as their families.
Many builders are taking advantage of this shift by creating multi-generational homes with separate entrances that incorporate universal design, flex spaces and even technology so that everyone in the home can get the privacy they need and come together as a family when desired. Pardee Homes and Lennar are two such builders.
Toll Brothers also targets the multi-generational homebuyer. In June the Miami-based builder’s chief executive officer Stuart Miller said that Lennar’s “sales continue to benefit from the execution of our NextGen product strategy. Year-over-year sales of our multi-generational brand grew by 58 percent, totaling 368 sales in our second quarter.
We now offer NextGen plans in 201 communities across the country, and in our second quarter, the average sales price for NextGen was 39 percent above the company’s average,” according to a transcript of their second-quarter earnings call.
So how does this correlate to tech in the home? At IBS, Brittany Gardner, interior designer for American Woodmark, says that sound and light need to be addressed appropriately so that noise doesn’t disturb other residents and older generations can see what they are doing.
Progress Lighting held a session on The Importance of Lighting and Aging in Place, in which it was revealed that a 60-year-old needs 10 times more lighting than those of a younger age to do the same task.
Layers using recessed lighting, task lighting and lamps are recommended. Progress also makes nightlight and sensor units for those late night trips to the bathroom.
Sensors are likely going to be a huge part of the multi-generational home. They will be able to determine who is entering and leaving the home, if the window or refrigerator door was left open, and check to see if mom or dad left the bed.
“It gives peace of mind,” says session moderator Jill Waage.
Anuszkiewicz added that multi-generational homeowners are willing to spend a little more up front because it is an investment. Technology adds value to the home.
Waage says that like the smartphone, it’s just going to take the older generations a little time to get used to the technology.
“It will simplify down and stream into stuff we can understand,” she says.
Touchless faucets are a prime example of this. Kids who have a hard time reaching the faucet can wave their hand in front of a sensor to wash their hands while everyone else in the home can avoid the spread of food particle bacteria with ease. Moen, Delta, Danze and probably a few others had such products in their booths. Check back with TecHome Builder for some video demonstrations of these products.
No matter what technology is utilized in multi-generational homes, two things need to be considered.
“It needs to be functional and understandable,” says John Benton of Middle Road Ventures, a homebuilding development company in Middlebury, Vt.