Increasing numbers of homebuyers are opting for a space as part of their new home that can - if need be- comfortably accommodate either aging parents or perhaps young children. After all, according to the Pew Research Center, nearly a third of all millennials between the ages of 18 and 34 live with their parents.
The reasons behind the popularity of multi-generational living have shifted a bit from five years ago, said Alan Jones, Phoenix division president for Lennar Homes, a homebuilder that pioneered the concept of a "NextGen" suite with a great room, bedroom, kitchenette, bath, laundry and private entry, depending on the plan.
A home within a home
When Lennar introduced the concept of a “home within a home” in 2011, typically Baby Boomer buyers purchased a home with the separate suite to help out aging parents. Today, the aging parents may be just as likely to be the buyers for their approaching-middle-aged children so the older family members can live with their children and avoid an assisted living facility, Jones said.
In addition, it’s now more common for buyers with special-needs adult children to opt for a NextGen home design. “Buyers in this situation have told me how much they appreciate this option,” Jones said. “They tell me how great it is for their child with autism, for example, to be able to live somewhat independently and experience the satisfaction of living in their own space.”
Jones estimates that up to 30 percent of Lennar’s buyers select a NextGen plan. “The number increases every year,” he said. Lennar is selling homes at about two dozen communities in Greater Phoenix; almost all of them offer a NextGen floor plan.
“A NextGen suite is connected to the main house so all the people living under one roof can easily be together when they want to be,” Jones said. “But with a separate entrance, a washer and dryer that are included and a kitchenette, the suite is separate enough to feel like an independent residence.”
Casitas remain popular
Each of Trilogy’s four communities in the Phoenix area offers at least two design plans with a casita option adjacent to a courtyard, said Hal Looney, Arizona president of Shea Homes’ Active Lifestyle Communities. The brand’s four active lifestyle communities in the Phoenix area are Trilogy Vistancia (Peoria), Trilogy Verde River (Rio Verde), Trilogy Wickenburg Ranch (Wickenburg) and Trilogy Encanterra (San Tan Valley). All of the Trilogy plans with a casita option include a bedroom and bath, Looney said. With one plan, the casita is standard. Altogether, 10 other floor plans offered by Trilogy can be purchased with an optional casita. One plan in Trilogy Vistancia — the Montage floor plan— includes an option for a dual master suite with a sitting room.
With Trilogy’s Latigo floor plan, the attached casita is a standard configuration and included in the base price, Looney said. That plan is available at both Trilogy Verde River and Wickenburg Ranch. The casita is 380 square-feet out of 2,644 square-feet total. The base price is either $386,900 or $552,900, depending on which community you select. Five years ago, Looney said, the casita option was used almost exclusively as an extra bedroom. Now, buyers are using the casita as an arts studio, office, exercise or hobby room, but they might also put in a bed that can be hidden — such as a Murphy bed — that can be available if an adult child visits or even moves back in, he said.
"Almost a necessity"
Toll Brothers also offers multiple home designs to meet the needs of multi-generational households, said Scott Ilizaliturri, division vice president for Toll Brothers. “In many Toll Brothers single- family-home neighborhoods in Arizona,” Ilizaliturri said, “we have floor plan offerings of private casitas with a separate entrance or secondary master suites.”
He said Toll Brothers is finding that more and more buyers have aging parents or adult children at home. “Sometimes they have both,” he said. “Five years ago, it was important — but today it is almost a necessity to offer that flexibility in design.”
In response, said Ilizaliturri, Toll Brothers has developed a casita with its own entrance, a living area, kitchenette and en-suite bedroom. “This works perfectly for both a parent you want to keep close or an adult or nearly-adult child,” he said. “We also have fully finished basement options in many of our neighborhoods. These are nearly the size of the first floor and work well as a space for someone to live in, another entertaining space, or a comfortable area for visiting relatives.”
In Toll Brothers communities, “many single-family detached home designs have a casita available,” he said. “The Southeast Valley communities have fully finished basements and casitas.” Toll Brothers’ neighborhood of paired villas in Fountain Hills has single-level plans with walk-out basements on some of the plans, he added.