Multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing – an op­por­tu­nity for UK house builders

The Oban Times - - Motors / Property -

Bri­tain's house builders have been urged to tap into the ex­pand­ing mar­ket in multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing by of­fer­ing fam­i­lies new homes with greater flex­i­bil­ity.

Re­search com­piled by the NHBC Foun­da­tion shows that more than 1.8 mil­lion house­holds in Bri­tain con­tain two or more adult gen­er­a­tions, yet most homes on the mar­ket con­tinue to be built to a tra­di­tional fam­ily home lay­out, with­out con­sid­er­a­tion for the shift to­wards multi- gen­er­a­tional liv­ing.

The NHBC Foun­da­tion re­port, Multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing – an op­por­tu­nity for UK house builders?, out­lines the fac­tors be­hind the trend us­ing sta­tis­ti­cal anal­y­sis as well as in­ter­views with fam­i­lies and ma­jor build­ing firms.

The re­port finds that the num­ber of multi­gen­er­a­tional house­holds in the UK in­creased by 38 per cent between 2009 and 2014, a rise driven largely by the num­ber of adults aged over 25 who live with their par­ents. In con­trast, the num­ber of multi-gen­er­a­tional fam­i­lies with grand­par­ents liv­ing with them re­mained static dur­ing this pe­riod.

Although some peo­ple chose this life­style out of fi­nan­cial ne­ces­sity, the re­port found that there was a va­ri­ety of rea­sons why multi- gen­er­a­tional house­holds were pop­u­lar, in­clud­ing pooling re­sources to buy a larger prop­erty, help with child­care and pro­vid­ing sup­port for older fam­ily mem­bers. Oth­ers en­joyed the so­cial ben­e­fit of liv­ing with more than one gen­er­a­tion of their fam­ily.

One sur­vey high­lighted in the re­port sug­gested that two-thirds of peo­ple be­lieved the so­lu­tion to Bri­tain's age­ing pop­u­la­tion would be to move to­wards multi- gen­er­a­tional liv­ing, and yet only 16 per cent said their cur­rent house would be suit­able. The re­port sug­gests how builders could de­velop lay­outs suit­able for multi­gen­er­a­tional liv­ing, with self- con­tained ar­eas for pri­vacy along­side shared com­mu­nal space.

Multi- gen­er­a­tional liv­ing is much more es­tab­lished in other parts of the world, such as USA, Sin­ga­pore and Ja­pan. House builders here have de­vel­oped spe­cific de­signs aimed at this sec­tor, such the USA firm which mar­kets a Nex­tGen home with the slo­gan: ‘For the fam­ily you're rais­ing and the fam­ily that raised you.’

Sarah, who took part in the sur­vey and lives with her hus­band, par­ents and two young sons, said: ‘It just works so well for us, the whole fam­ily liv­ing sit­u­a­tion. You've got pri­vacy when you want it, you've got sup­port when you need it, you've got com­pany when you want it. It's just so fan­tas­tic for my kids to be brought up in this en­vi­ron­ment. I don't think any of us will have a de­sire to change it.’

Com­ment­ing on the re­port, NHBC head of re­search and in­no­va­tion Neil Smith said: ‘Multi- gen­er­a­tional liv­ing of­fers a range of op­por­tu­ni­ties to house builders, from the tar­get­ing of suit­able ex­ist­ing home de­signs to this mar­ket, to de­sign­ing new homes with flex­i­ble lay­outs to suit dif­fer­ent house­hold com­po­si­tions through­out a life­time.

‘Multi- gen­er­a­tional liv­ing is recog­nised in other coun­tries as a con­trib­u­tor to im­proved well­be­ing and the more effi cient use of hous­ing stock. This re­port will help us to recog­nise th­ese ben­e­fits as we strive to de­liver a mod­ern and rel­e­vant house­build­ing pro­gramme within the UK.’

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