Housing Trends: Multigenerational Living

multigenerational family portrait

Every year, Addbuild is engaged by up to 80 families to extend or build an addition to their home. This puts us in a good position to see some of the big trends in the home building market and how they change from year to year.

One of the most persistent trends of recent times is that of ‘multigenerational living’ so we felt it worthy of a closer look.

What is ‘multigenerational living’?

We define ‘multigenerational living’ as when there is more than one adult generation living under the same roof.

Technically you’d be correct in saying that it really is more than one generation of any age, but when people refer to this, they are usually describing a situation where there are adult children still at home, retired parents of the homeowner living at home, or both.

What are the key drivers?

The forces driving this trend are well known and have stayed largely the same in recent years:

  1. Housing affordability – as housing prices have become a higher multiple of average earnings, fewer potentially new homeowners are able to enter the market. In some cases, young couples are moving back into a family home for a considerable time so that they can save for the higher deposit required to buy their own home.
  2. Adult children staying home longer – another direct result of the above point is that children are staying home longer, sometimes into their 20s even 30s, as they are less able to afford to buy or rent a home, or prefer to spend their income of things other than a high rent or mortgage.
  3. People are living longer – with advances in healthcare, the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare estimates the number of retirees to keep rising. In 2017, there were 3.8 million Australians aged 65 plus (15% of the total population) and this is projected to be 8.8 million people (22% of the population) by 2057.
  4. Aged-care costs – allied to the rise in the number of people over 65, the costs of residential aged-care have risen in recent years, although some government reforms are attempting to better regulate this. Also, whether driven by cost or not, some families prefer to look after an elderly parent at home rather than in residential aged-care.
  5. Cultural diversity – within Australia’s diverse cultures, it is normal for some to have multiple generations living under the same roof. It’s actually not that long ago that this was the norm in Western European cultures as well. The ‘nuclear’ family and single-parent family only became more prominent in the past century.
  6. Divorce – following a divorce, some adults unable to afford separate accommodation move into their parents, or even their children’s, home.

How has this changed home building?

Multigenerational living usually has an impact on the layout of the home in a few main ways, often in combination.

  1. Homeowners look to expand their home to accommodate another generation of adults, usually via an extension, an additional storey, or a ‘granny’ flat.
  2. Homeowners create different divisions in their home to give privacy and autonomy to the different generations of adults living there, sometimes adding separate bathrooms and kitchens for each generation.
  3. Ground floor accommodation is especially important for any elderly relatives, so designing the home to ensure that accessibility is paramount should be considered essential.

The Benefits

It’s tempting to see multigenerational living as a negative consequence of the trends described above, but as mentioned, we humans have lived this way for much longer than the more recent ‘norm’ of two parents and their two kids.

A home carefully designed for multigenerational living can create the best of both worlds, with different generations maintaining their independence, whilst saving a substantial amount of money.

There can be additional benefits of families forging stronger bonds, and practical advantages with grandparents more able to help with looking after grandchildren.


Many of the drivers of multigenerational living are long term and we don’t think this trend is going away anytime soon.

As a design and build company specialising in extensions and additions, Addbuild can draw on our experience with multigenerational additions to design and construct a home to meet people’s needs.

If you are looking to welcome another adult generation into your home, or keen to provide adult children staying home with their own space and independence, please get in contact. Call us today on (02) 8765 1555 or contact us using our online form.

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