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Hurdles to Multigenerational Living: Kitchens and Visible Second Entrances

Source: Yahoo Finance

Local restrictions limit possibilities for tailoring homes to meet needs of adult children, aging parents.

For the past five years, home builder Jon Girod has noticed a surge in inquiries from buyers wanting to bring their extended families together on the same property to save money.

He said he gives them a standard disclaimer: Most local governments won’t approve a second kitchen for adults living in separate guest suites. That means no stoves or ovens—only hot plates or microwaves.

The warning scares off many buyers, he said, but experienced ones know that once they move in it is easy to reconfigure the space without drawing attention from local planning officials.

“It’s a cat-and-mouse game,” said Mr. Girod, owner of Quail Homes in Vancouver, Wash. “Quite frankly, the rules are outdated for today’s society.”

A growing number of Americans are living in a household with multiple adult generations as baby boomers look to support older parents as well as boomerang children struggling with student debt and a tough job market. The rub: There is a shortage of homes designed for multigenerational living arrangements.

In all, more than 18% of the U.S. population lives in a multigenerational household, according to a 2014 Pew Research Center study, up from about 15% in 2000. Multigenerational households are defined as those that include at least two adult generations or with a skipped generation such as a grandchild living with a grandparent.

The restrictions have prompted some builders to offer scaled-down kitchens and dream up alternative names for the forbidden amenities buyers crave. New Home Co. of Aliso Viejo, Calif., calls second kitchens “service bars.” Woodley Architectural Group, based in the Denver area, refers to them as “convenience centers,” while Lennar Corp. calls them “eat-in kitchenettes.”

multigenarational living

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