Twenty years ago, many of us would have mocked the idea of different generations living under one roof like the Ewings in the TV series Dallas.
But today there is a real move towards cross-generational living, with grandparents, parents and children all opting to live in the same home. The recession and increasing childcare and elderly care costs mean many families are selling their individual homes and pooling their resources to buy a property big enough for them all.
Research conducted for The Telegraph by Barclays found that two thirds of us think the answer to an ageing population is having a home big enough to house different generations. But only 16 per cent of those surveyed thought their current home was big enough.
Ian Roberts, area sales manager for Your Move in Sutton, said: “It’s obvious that different generations will have different needs and before even considering looking for a home it would be wise for all concerned to write their own ‘wish list’ and then come together in agreeing the key priorities from these. Despite living under the same roof, for example, the older generations might still prefer to have their own living areas and even their own corner of the garden away from the hustle and bustle of other family members. “There might also be a need for en suite facilities or even a ground-floor bedroom should stairs prove a problem. In contrast, younger members might be looking for playrooms or large entertain-ment areas whereas their parents could be looking for a bigger kitchen or living area where the whole family can come together. “Whatever the final decision is, the test of finding a house that suits all will no doubt give some indication of what to expect in the future and possibly highlight an overriding need for family co-operation and, in some cases, diplomacy,” he added.
Architects are already starting to consider this change in family living arrangements in the design of new homes. In a recent report on cross- generational housing, professor Michael Keith of Northumbria University called for a flexible “universal design” concept for housing, that takes account of three generations living together, as well as changing family needs.
“There are many economic reasons why cross-generational housing should be considered more seriously,” he commented.
“It doesn’t have to be about families living on top of each other.”