Multigenerational House

mojomomFebruary 24, 2014

Some of you may remember, that I've posted before about our family's dream concept for a multigenerational two-family home for that will be our retirement home and we will share with our daughter and son-in-law. We have been considering in a small "new urban" subdivision in a great location near the base of a ski resort and will probably make an offer in the next few weeks. The upside of the subdivision is the location close to everything and there are several very pretty duplex lots on a bench overlooking a beautiful mountain creek. The trade off and the lots are small. The lot we are considering is about 135 x 135 and has a building envelope of about 96 x 97.

The lot slopes front to back (south to north) and a bit west to east (Lowest point is the NE corner). A few of the key design guidelines are require one porch to a minimum of 100 sq feet, minimum width 10', minimum depth 8 even with or on the front plane; the west garage must be be side loaded; 60% of the front facade of the structure must be within 5' of the minimum front setback (porches may be used to meet this requirement). We would like to preserve at least some back yard space for the dogs and back yard fences are permitted.

Street view

View from middle of lot

The creek at low water

I've sketched out a bare bones concept plan pasted below for the main floor and scaled it on a plat of the building envelope just in an exercise to try to get an idea if our idea would even work on this lot (and, besides, it was fun to do during some recent down time). The concept is to create separate private living spaces for each generation with the ability to share some spaces which may be technically part of one unit (Unit B in the concept) but arranged so accessible from both, while still preserving privacy between units. Goal would be about 4600-5200 sq ft. living space, excluding basement, (approximately 2300-2600 sq. ft per side). Unit B (older generation) must have primarily one level living for us, but may have a guest suite upstairs. Must have an office that will also occasionally serve as a snore room, but may be utilitarian. Unit A (younger generation, possibility of a child in the future) should have living down and 2 bedrooms/2 baths up, but potential for a bedroom on main.

I haven't even attempted to draw the upstairs of either unit or the basement. If we move forward we will use an architect, who will probably scrap the whole thing, but at least walking thru this might provide a starting point for the conversation and will give an idea as to our priorities and how we want to live. We probably won't build for a few years, but when we do, we will use an architect, so repeating this is just a conceptual design trying to see if the purchase is even worth pursuing.

My primary question is do you think this will work? This is JUST a concept plan and is missing many details. I don't want to go down this road and later find out that to be able to build what we want given the space lot constraints and budget. Just FYI. Somewhat comparable newer duplexes and town homes sell between 500,000 and 700,000 per unit. Outs would be mid-grade, nothing fancy. I hope this to be all in, lot plus house for about 2 times that (2units). All cash, no financing.

Sorry this is so long. I omitted a number of things. I would be very grateful for your imput, on overall layout, etc. (so long as it doesn't add additional cost or size). Btw, I did layout furniture in this and I think it works). Any imput on how to manage that long hall would be great.

This post was edited by mojomom on Mon, Feb 24, 14 at 9:41

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Im unsure of sizes. A few things that stuck out to me:

the 3/4 bath in unit A. I think I'd like that accessible without having to walk into the study.

In unit b is there a 1/2 bath/powder room? If not I would want one so guests will not have to traipse through the MBR or to a different floor.

Is there enough ski storage and outdoor rec equipment storage? The garages seem too small for this. Is this built into the basement or someplace I'm not seeing?

OveralI think it's a decent start. The way you've situated the two units give the most sound protection as well. Of course I'm sure you'll put up quietrock or similar soundproofing, but orienting the units as you did can't hurt!

The lot is awesome!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 3:49AM
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Thanks, Nashville.

Sizes are difficult to see. Sorry.

Good idea on the 3/4 bath. Will see that gets on the list.

There is a powder room in Unit B in the hall at the foot of the stairs near the kitchen. It probably needs to be enlarged.

I think there will be adequate ski storage. Garage A is about 23'6" wide (a bit narrow, but approx 24 feet long on the short side and a 6' bump out. Garage B is a little over 25 wide and approx. 24-26 deep. Given the size of our existing garage out there it should be ok. But we will look closely at this. There will be a basement for additional storage.

Thanks for your comments.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 9:32AM
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i agree with nash that it's tricky to give too much feedback without seeing the sizes, but it seems you've been very thorough in your approach so far and the general layout seems to make sense for a duplex.

the main reason i'm responding is i love the multi-generational thing you have going on. we, too, are building for 2+ generations. the house for my parents will be detached but on the same lot as us and our little ones. it's so nice to have the privacy of locked separate units/houses, but the proximity of family when you want it as well. really excited for you. good luck!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 10:25AM
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We are also building a multigenerational home. My parents will have their own garage and about 1,000 sq ft of living space, which includes a kitchen and their own laundry. It is connected to our space, and the total heated sqft of both combined is 4826.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 4:47PM
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We also are building a multi-generational home and it sounds like we will have a similar arrangement to jenniekehr.

Will your daughter and SIL be living in the duplex full time, or is it a vacation home for them (or for you)? I ask because if they are not there all of the time, you might consider providing one large gathering space for those times when the "whole family" wants to get together, and one smaller space, rather than two mid-sized spaces. Just a thought.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 8:17PM
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We have a similar situation. We are doing the suite as a separate wing, forming an L shape. Hope this helps. First floor:

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:07PM
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The second story:

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:08PM
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And the overall site plan:

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:09PM
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Thanks all!

Glad to see others like the multigenerational idea too. To answer Oaktown's question, both generations will live there full time. Daughter and SIL currently live in our vacation house out there now. They have both lived in the area for 10+ years and love it there. My husband and I have been vacationing there for 25 years. We currently spend about 4-6 weeks there a year, but will move there full time when we retire in 4-5 years. We're not in a hurry to build and probably will wait a few years, but now is a fairly opportune time to go ahead and buy the lot. We're headed back out next week and probably will make an offer while we are there.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:19PM
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Denny, Thanks. I hadn't seen you post when I posted before. Great plan!

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 11:23PM
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A lot of thought has gone into this! Nicely done. I particularly appreciate that most of the rooms have windows on two sides. That's often not the case in new builds, but makes a world of difference in how a room "feels".

I'll echo the suggestion of a powder room in unit B. We're big readers, so we'd keep the long hall in B and put in bookcases

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 11:19AM
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Thanks. Mary. I have to give credit to what I learned on this forum for the attention to designing to maximize light from different sides. A duplex design made it especially challenging.

Powder room suggestion noted. It is essential. Although there actually is a powder room in the plan as drawn (in the hall at the foot of the stairs), it looks like a closet on the plan! (My bad) It is 3'x7',but if is too small to see, it may betoo small to use! I should be able to steal a bit from the adjacent shared storage off the kitchen to enlarge it if necessary.

This post was edited by mojomom on Wed, Feb 26, 14 at 18:25

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:51PM
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UPDATE: We are now officially under contract for the lot! It will still be a couple of years before we build, but we are so excited! In the meantime, I expect I'll be asking lots of questions as we continue to plan and will continue to watch your builds -- what great houses are being built on this forum. Thanks to everyone on your input so far. For now, here is what I have been playing with. I would appreciate any advice especially on the kitchens.

    Bookmark   March 13, 2014 at 1:25PM
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UPDATE: We're closed!!! So excited even though it will still be a couple of years before we build but moving from the dreaming stage to planning. We will probably meet with an architect until later this summer. Those of you who are building now, please stick around, I will have lots of questions and you're all doing such great jobs and I'm sure to have lots of questions.

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 2:53PM
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I would advise you to try walking through some examples of this type of housing, if it's at all available.

While it's nice to have separate spaces (and sometimes a necessity) part of the appeal of this type of housing is large common spaces. A big gathering space that can be shared by all, with smaller separate areas for each family can be a lot of fun...and great at the holidays!

Do you need two kitchens? Would one large kitchen with a smaller kitchenette off the second family room be enough? Do you all get along well enough to share common spaces with a morning room for coffee enough dining space in the second unit?

Just a few thoughts. My mom is going to be moving in with us and we plan to share a kitchen, dining room and main family area...but have another smaller TV/den for an 'away' space and bedroom wings on each side of the common area. I also love porches, so a few porches (at least one glassed in) will also serve as an away room. We both love to cook, so we'll share one large kitchen with hopefully a small seating area by the fireplace and kitchen table...with the dining room separate, but shared.

Congratulations on closing and have fun with your planning! :)

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 6:13PM
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Thanks for your thoughts, LL. I always love your posts and outlook. Sounds like you'll have a great arrangement with your Mom.

We've thought this over and considered various options for several years and looked at lots of variations, but for us, having two completely separate units with the ability to move easily between the two to visit works best. We get along great (really extremely so) but we do need the separation too. This is a ski resort area, so we expect to have house guests often. The kids also have frequent house guests and SIL's family visits frequently from out of town. We will be in our early 60s when we build and the kids will be in their late 30s. Still at an age for both couples that we hope to enjoy our separate lives as well as our time together. This type of duplex is fairly common in the area simply because it is a resort and more like close next door neighbors.

We actually considered just buying adjoining lots, but that's hard to find in the area we like -- this subdivision had some, but mostly are interior and small. There are two nicer single family adjoining creekside lots available but the combined cost of those two lots would be too much for our budget and require larger houses than either couple needs. The kid's half is part gift and pt financed by the bank of mom and dad as it is. So being in the location we all like and being able to build what we want this duplex lot works best for us and does give the benefit of some shared space. We will have a shared basement rec room and perhaps another bedroom in the basement.

But even though we're set in this type of arrangement, I'll need lots of input, it just needs to be thought of as two separate houses that happen to abut. Right now just sharing our excitement!

The closing wasn't an 'event' with everyone present (done via wires, email and fed ex through the title co) and DH and I aren't even out there now so our 'celebration' has been via texts and phone, but from this pic DD texted me below, it looks like DSIL christened to lot after work today.

This post was edited by mojomom on Wed, Aug 27, 14 at 22:28

    Bookmark   April 30, 2014 at 11:35PM
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Such a beautiful lot! I pass a multigenerational home when I drive to my lot. This weekend, I will try and snap a photo for you if you would like to see another. I think it's the only one I have ever seen in person.

    Bookmark   May 1, 2014 at 9:25AM
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