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Universal Design: A Growing Trend

Universal Design is one of today’s fasted growing trends in the housing industry. Growing numbers of builders are unveiling revamped home designs that include “mother-in-law apartments” or small suites with private entrances, bathrooms and kitchenettes to provide living quarters for extended family members. A recent survey by the National Association of Home Builders found that 62% of the architects sampled said they expect a significant uptick in demand for homes with second master suites. People are planning ahead now and looking for homes that will lend themselves to future demands of the multi-generational lifestyle.

The U.S. Census defines a multi-generational household as one having at least three related people living together who are from three generations. According to government figures, the number of multi-generational households rose 40% over 10 years, from 3 million in 1990 to 4.2 million in 2000. The number of parents over age 65 moving in with adult children increased by 62% between 2000 and 2007. Additionally, an AARP survey indicates that the number of multi-generational households grew from 5 million in 2000 to 6.2 million in 2008.

The reasons behind this growing trend are varied. New immigrants may choose to follow cultural traditions of living with extended family. Rising housing costs make it more economical for families to share housing expenses. Many seniors opt to live with family members instead of living in a retirement center. And finally, middle aged adults find themselves in the “sandwich generation” as they live with and care for both their children and their aging parents. All want a house that will safely and comfortably meet the needs of the entire family as the years go by.