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Making Finished Basements a Fit for Multigenerational Homes

grandpa holding baby in multigenerational living arrangement

More and more Americans are opting for multigenerational living — and consequently demanding more from their houses. Between 1971 and 2021, the number of Americans living in multigenerational homes (defined as those containing two or more adult generations) roughly quadrupled — from 14.5 million to 59.7 million. At least 1 out of every 5 American adults share a multigenerational living arrangement.

While such setups could make sense for a lot of folks, with more heads under one roof, the situation can get a little tight. Where do you find the space? Many are discovering that the most economical solution is right beneath their feet.

Finished basements cost a fraction of home additions, making use of the square footage you already have, without the massive disruption that building up or building out usually entails. Therefore, basement finishing should be Plan A for decongesting your multigenerational home.

Benefits of multigenerational homes

Multigenerational living can be beneficial in several dimensions.

Finances

Multigenerational housing allows multiple income earners to pool together their financial resources, helping to pay off bills and debts, as well as to save and invest for future plans — funds that could go toward continuing education, retirement, or even a home of one’s own.

Relationships

Multigenerational homes can foster stronger and healthier relationships between family members, and improve the communication skills we use everywhere in life.

Caretaking

One of the most common reasons for multigenerational living is to better care for an elderly, sick, or special needs family member. For working parents with children, having grandparents on hand can help alleviate their childcare worries.

Typical house plans for multigenerational living

Depending on the composition of your multigenerational household, you may have different goals. Your house plan should be conducive to these goals, and cater to the needs of each cohabiting generation. For instance, a younger adult may value privacy and independence first and foremost, favoring a more separate living arrangement. Conversely, an aging adult with health concerns may need to be immediately accessible to receive assistance from other family members.
A finished basement serves some purposes better than others, but almost any homeowner can find utility in it.

Utilizing the basement in multigenerational homes

Children and teens

While many adults maintain consistently high energy levels well into their golden years, most would agree that kids are a lot to keep up with. Luckily, a finished basement is an ideal candidate for a dedicated play or activity area. It’s generally wide open, limiting the potential collateral of any horseplay, and because it’s underground, the noise of games and scatter of toys are less apt to disturb the older folks.

Once the kids get a little older, you might repurpose your finished basement into a home theater or gaming area, giving tweens and teens a separate but still monitorable space to hang out with their friends.

Adults

Adult children may or may not love moving back in with their parents, but it’s become a fact of life for many as they pay off college loans and get their careers off the ground. In the meantime, the best place to preserve any sense of privacy could very well be underground. Whether it’s just a bedroom or a complete basement apartment (i.e. kitchenette and bathroom included), a finished basement is often the best way to preserve intergenerational goodwill and sanity.

Seniors

A basement apartment can also work well for grandparents or older relatives, although accessibility should be carefully considered for those with mobility issues. Walkout basements will almost always better cater to such needs, as they open directly to the outside through more conventional entry doors. However, these types of basements are only associated with sloping properties and are not an option for standard lots. For more independent seniors, though, a basement in-law suite can be a sensible part of a house plan for multigenerational living.

Basement living requires basement egress

No matter what your age, the more time you spend in your basement, the more you need a dependable way out of it. No household ever wants to experience an emergency, but every household should be prepared for one.

Basement egress windows or doors allow residents to safely evacuate their lower level in the event of an emergency while giving first responders a direct entry point. That’s peace of mind any generation can appreciate, and exactly what Egress Solutions is honored to provide.

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