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  • Writer's pictureTeam Pinto

From Grandparents to Grandkids: A Comprehensive Guide to Multigenerational Home Buying

Multigenerational living, a housing arrangement where multiple generations of a family reside together under one roof, has gained popularity in Canada over the past few years.

This living arrangement offers several benefits, including financial support, caregiving assistance, and enhanced social connections. As the Canadian population ages and cultural diversity increases, multigenerational living is becoming more common, as both recent census data and new research has demonstrated.

Key factors contributing to the rise of multigenerational living in Canada include:

  • Aging Population: Canada's population is aging, with a growing number of seniors who may require support and care. Multigenerational living allows family members to assist with caregiving, reducing the need for external support services.

  • Cultural Factors: Many immigrant communities in Canada come from cultures where multigenerational living is the norm. These families are often choosing continue this tradition in their new country, offering support to their older relatives while benefiting from their wisdom and experience.

  • Housing Affordability: The high cost of housing in many Canadian cities has made it challenging for younger generations to afford their own homes.

There might be tax breaks too. Announced during the April 2022 budget, the multigenerational home renovation tax credit officially entered into force on January 1, 2023. This measure is part of the Liberal government’s promise to support affordable housing across the country. It is also used to support Canadians who wish to live with their parents or loved one with a disability, and at the same time, promote home care.

The tax credit is equal to 15% of the lesser of eligible expenses and $50,000, up to a maximum tax credit of $7,500. It covers expenses related to the renovation or adaptation of a house in order to create a second living space, annexed to the first, for a family member (grandparent, parent, child, grandchild, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew) aged over 65 or living with a disability (benefiting from the disability tax credit). The spouse of the owner could also be eligible, but under certain specific conditions (a tax specialist can fill you in here)

  • Changing Family Dynamics: Divorce, single parenthood, and adult children returning to live with their parents have contributed to the need for flexible and adaptable living arrangements. Multigenerational living can provide a supportive and nurturing environment for family members in various stages of life.

  • Desire for Connection: In an increasingly digital and isolated world, multigenerational living can foster stronger familial connections and provide a support system for all family members. The pandemic highlighted just how important this is too.

  • A Desire to Remain at Home and Age in Place: Another growing trend across the world, not just in Canada, is people's stated desire to "age in place". Aging in place is a concept that emphasizes the importance of living independently and comfortably in one's own home for as long as possible. As the population continues to age, more people are looking for homes that can accommodate their changing needs over time.

Universal Design and Multigenerational Homes

Universal design is an approach to creating products, environments, and spaces that are accessible, usable, and functional for as many people as possible, regardless of their age, ability, or circumstance. The concept was developed by architect Ronald Mace and aims to accommodate a wide range of users by removing barriers and promoting inclusivity.

Universal design is based on seven guiding principles:

  • Equitable Use: The design is useful and appealing to people with diverse abilities and doesn't discriminate against any group of users.

  • Flexibility in Use: The design accommodates a wide range of individual preferences and abilities, allowing for customization and adaptation according to the user's needs.

  • Simple and Intuitive Use: The design is easy to understand, regardless of the user's experience, knowledge, language skills, or concentration level.

  • Perceptible Information: The design communicates necessary information effectively to the user, regardless of ambient conditions or the user's sensory abilities.

  • Tolerance for Error: The design minimizes hazards and adverse consequences of accidental or unintended actions, providing a margin of safety for users.

  • Low Physical Effort: The design can be used efficiently and comfortably with a minimum of fatigue, making it accessible to people with varying levels of physical ability.

  • Size and Space for Approach and Use: The design provides appropriate size and space for users to approach, reach, manipulate, and use the product or environment, regardless of their body size, posture, or mobility.

A home can be designed or modified to accommodate both an active family and the needs of individuals aging in place. Universal design principles aim to create living spaces that are functional, safe, and accessible for people of all ages and abilities.

By incorporating these principles, a home can cater to the needs of a growing family while also being suitable for aging in place. Here are some features to consider:

Open Floor Plan: An open floor plan allows for easy navigation and adaptability, making it suitable for both children and seniors. It provides ample space for family gatherings and play, while ensuring that older adults can move around with ease.

Single-level Living: While a multi-story home can work for a family, having at least one bedroom and bathroom on the ground floor is essential for aging in place. This allows older adults to avoid navigating stairs while still providing ample living space for a family.

Wide Doorways and Hallways: Doorways and hallways that are wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers not only benefit older adults but also make it easier for parents with strollers or young children on tricycles to navigate the home.

Accessible Bathrooms: Bathrooms designed with accessibility features like grab bars, walk-in showers, and non-slip flooring benefit both older adults and children, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Lever Handles and Rocker Switches: Lever handles on doors and faucets, as well as rocker switches for lights, are easier to use for people with limited dexterity, including both seniors and young children.

Adequate Storage: Ample storage space is important for families and seniors alike. Well-designed storage can help keep the home organized and clutter-free, reducing tripping hazards and making it easier to find and access necessary items.

Flexible Spaces: Flexible spaces in homes are versatile areas that can serve multiple purposes or adapt to changing needs over time. These spaces make efficient use of available square footage and can be particularly useful in smaller homes or for accommodating evolving family dynamics. Here are some examples of flexible spaces in homes:

  • Convertible guest room/home office: A room that serves as a home office or study space but can quickly convert into a guest room when needed. This can be achieved by using a fold-out sofa bed or a wall-mounted Murphy bed and multi-purpose furniture.

  • Open-concept living/dining area: An open floor plan that combines the living room and dining room into one large, adaptable space. This design allows for easy reconfiguration of furniture and can accommodate various activities, such as family gatherings or entertainment.

  • Multi-purpose loft space: A loft area that can serve as a playroom, reading nook, or additional sleeping space when needed. This space can be outfitted with modular furniture and storage solutions that can be easily rearranged as needs change.

  • Basement flex space: A finished basement that can be adapted for various purposes, such as a home gym, entertainment room, or additional living area. Adding movable partitions or sliding doors can create separate zones within the basement for different activities.

  • Expandable outdoor living space: A covered patio, deck, or porch that can be easily extended or enclosed to create additional living space when needed. This can be achieved through the use of retractable awnings, sliding glass doors, or removable screens.

  • Mudroom/laundry room combo: A combined mudroom and laundry room with built-in storage and workspace that can also serve as a craft or hobby area. Incorporating a fold-down table or wall-mounted storage solutions can maximize the functionality of this space.

  • Adaptable kitchen: A kitchen with movable or modular components, such as a rolling kitchen island or adjustable shelving, that can be reconfigured to accommodate different cooking or entertaining needs.

By incorporating flexible spaces in a home, homeowners can create living areas that can easily adapt to their changing needs and lifestyles, making the most of their available square footage and ensuring that their homes remain functional and comfortable over time.

Outdoor Spaces: A well-maintained outdoor space with level walking paths, seating areas, and low-maintenance landscaping can provide a safe and enjoyable area for both children and older adults to spend time.

Universal design can be applied to homes retroactively with the help of the right experts - and some creativity - but if you are looking for the perfect Waterloo Region home for you, and that may include a need to embrace multigenerational living and/or aging in place, your real estate agent can help you find a home that takes this into consideration, as long as you let them know that's what you are looking for.

A real estate agent's expertise is invaluable when searching for the perfect multigenerational home. They possess comprehensive knowledge of the local housing market and can identify properties that cater to the unique needs of families with multiple generations living under one roof.

By understanding the family's requirements and preferences, an experienced agent can recommend suitable homes featuring accessible layouts, flexible spaces, and accommodations for various age groups and mobility levels. Additionally, they can provide insights on neighborhood amenities, such as proximity to schools, healthcare facilities, and public transportation, which are crucial factors for families considering multigenerational living.

By leveraging their professional network and negotiation skills, a real estate agent can help families secure the ideal home that fosters a comfortable, supportive, and harmonious living environment for all members.

Ready to find the perfect multigenerational home in the Waterloo Region? Our team of dedicated and knowledgeable real estate agents is here to guide you every step of the way.

We understand the unique needs of families seeking a home that fosters connection and support across generations. With our expertise in the local market and commitment to exceptional service, we'll help you navigate the home-buying process and find a property that meets your family's needs today and for years to come.

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