Rediscovering the multigenerational household

The Generation 8 model comprises a main house and a separate annex to ensure a necessary degree of privacy

Once the norm, later an economic necessity, and now a growing trend – more and more multigenerational families are living together under a single roof.

“Granny, come”, yells two-year-old Lily, using her tiny fists to pummel on the connecting door. “I’m here, dear”, replies a grey-haired lady, opening the door just a few moments later and opening her arms for her granddaughter to run into. Both of them spend their mornings together while Mammy and Daddy are at work and older brother Jack is at school. All live together under the same roof in a residential model that is now regaining popularity. The resurgence of multigenerational households can be seen as a reaction to rising construction costs, exploding utility prices and higher fees for kindergartens and retirement homes – all coupled with declining salaries and pensions.

Splitting the bills

With two sets of future residents, greater financial resources are available for building a home and paying off any mortgage. What’s more, the high cost of building land, particularly in overcrowded urban areas, is no longer a major barrier when the outlay for a suitable plot can be shared. The fact that a multigenerational house can be erected on a much smaller site than two detached homes is a further advantage.

The tax authorities actually provide incentives for extended families to live together, although in something of an indirect way. When the erected building is energy-efficient, subsidies can be secured for each individual residential unit – effectively doubling the total amount. By renting the self-contained flat to the grandparents once the building has been built, the owners can enjoy even more tax benefits. Through joint planning, huge savings can be made on red tape, contractor’s fees and infrastructure costs – a good-sized heating system in the larger part of the house is easily able to keep the smaller part warm as well.

Common areas and space of one’s own

When several generations live together under one roof, there’s bound to be friction from time to time. So it’s important for everyone to have their own space to retreat to. It’s best to design the building so that two completely unrelated families could live there. Two separate entrance doors are recommended, plus connecting elements for optional combination of the two units. Although it’s important to have space to withdraw to, it’s also vital to plan a common area where people can come together – such as a large living room or dining room.

Flexibility is key for the multigenerational household, and is likewise a quality demonstrated by many prefabricated homes, owing to their modular structure. Their floor plans can be modified to meet the individual requirements of single homes, but also adapted to create two separate residential units. What was originally a “granny flat” can later be rented out, used by the au-pair girl or older children, or converted into an office.

An article by Tanja Müller

  • The Generation series of prefab homes from allkauf permits the integration of self-contained flats for parents or other co-residents
  • The Generation 8 model comprises a main house and a separate annex to ensure a necessary degree of privacy
  • Baufritz’s Erstling is an eco-friendly, timber-clad, multigenerational house with two separate flats, one on the ground floor and one spread over the first and second floors
  • A steel staircase leads to the upper flat, which boasts generous terrace and balcony areas
  • In the barrier-free ground floor flat, you can access the outdoor seating area through the glass sliding doors in the open-plan living and kitchen area
  • The Innovationshaus 240 is made up of three offset rectangles. Two of these comprise the main house, with the third containing a small, separate flat
  • Ytong Bausatzhaus has designed this multigenerational house to comply with the " alt="Ytong Bausatzhaus has designed this multigenerational house to comply with the "KfW 55” energy-efficiency standard. With two self-contained units, future owners can claim two subsidies from the state-owned KfW Bank" class="swipebox full-image-available image-with-copyright grid-image" copyright='' src="">
  • Jung, the specialists for electrical systems, have equipped this multigenerational house with convenient, future-oriented smart home technology. Three generations live under the same roof and all appreciate the intuitive way in which the building’s technical systems can be controlled
  • All three barrier-free storeys of the house are accessible via a central lift. The doors are wider than usual and there are no thresholds to be negotiated on the way to the balconies
  • In the building created by prefab specialists at WeberHaus, six members of an extended family enjoy the benefits of modern, multigenerational living
  • Everyone has their own private sphere in which they live as they please (the young family above, the grandparents below), but help and support are readily available whenever needed
  • When house owners decide they want their parents to live with them, they can simply attach a FlyingSpace from SchwörerHaus to the existing building. Requiring point foundations only, the extension is simply heaved into the garden using a crane
  • Architects Anja and Jochen Engelshove designed this modern, multigenerational house for themselves, their two children and the grandparents
  • Displaying a timeless elegance from the very first glance, a closer look reveals this to be a boldly designed, brick-lined structure. The most striking feature of this passive house is the light-grey façade made up of facing bricks from Wienerberger

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