Too many grown-ups fight­ing for the space at home

“Chadults” and grand­par­ents are put­ting in­creas­ing pres­sure on the tra­di­tional fam­ily home. So is it time for a re­design? Sharon Dale re­ports.

Yorkshire Post - Property - - PROPERTY -

“TOUGH” was David Cameron’s re­sponse to anger aroused by his plan to scrap hous­ing ben­e­fit for the un­der 25s if the Con­ser­va­tive Party win the next elec­tion.

There’s no doubt it will be for par­ents forced to pro­vide a home for their grown-up chil­dren, though an in­creas­ing num­ber are al­ready ex­pe­ri­enc­ing this kind of over-crowd­ing.

Boomerang kids ask­ing for their old bed­rooms back or fail­ing to va­cate them is far more com­mon now thanks to un­em­ploy­ment and the need to save for a large de­posit be­fore they can get a mort­gage.

A sur­vey by in­surance firm LV this week re­vealed that 1.6 mil­lion grown-up chil­dren over the age of 21 live with their par­ents. A third of them cite not be­ing able to ac­cess the prop­erty lad­der as the rea­son for stay­ing with mum and dad, while one in five can’t find a job, 12 per cent are there due to the break-up of a re­la­tion­ship and one in ten have free bed and board while they try and pay off debts. Al­most half of par­ents sur­veyed said they had been forced to raid their sav­ings and 10 per cent had spent their nest egg sup­port­ing their “chadults”.

Mark Jones, LV Head of Pro­tec­tion, says: “Bring­ing up a child is ex­pen­sive and the cost doesn’t stop there. Young peo­ple are leav­ing univer­sity with large debts, youth un­em­ploy­ment is at a record high and prop­erty is un­af­ford­able for many. So it is likely we will see a grow­ing num­ber of adults who con­tinue to de­pend on their par­ents.”

But the pres­sure isn’t just fi­nan­cial. Liv­ing to­gether can cause ar­gu­ments, stress and re­sent­ment, es­pe­cially when chil­dren move back home af­ter liv­ing away.

The so­lu­tion to this prob­lem for some is to buy a home with a self-con­tained an­nexe, though th­ese are rare and much more ex­pen­sive than the av­er­age house.

Ar­chi­tect Ric Blenkharn, of Bramhall Blenkharn, sug­gests max­imis­ing space in ex­ist­ing prop­er­ties and de­sign­ing creative so­lu­tions into new builds.

“One so­lu­tion is to max­imise the space in an ex­ist­ing house, so con­vert­ing the loft. I also think we need to get creative with space and flex­i­ble fur­ni­ture like desks and book­cases that fold down and dou­ble as beds.

“I’ve used pieces from www. on a few projects and they make it easy for liv­ing spa­ces to be­come sleep­ing spa­ces. The same ap­proach could be taken with slid­ing screens.”

He also stresses that new homes need to be big­ger.

“With many mod­ern homes de­signed to the small­est size fea­si­ble, then flex­i­bil­ity is a real prob­lem. It’s why the good old semi-de­tached house has ap­peal for many. They of­ten have sig­nif­i­cant po­ten­tial for loft con­ver­sions and side/rear ex­ten­sions. New de­vel­op­ments usu­ally have re­stricted plot widths, which make change im­pos­si­ble.”

Ian Ruthven, MD of Bar­ratt York­shire, says three-storey town houses are most use­ful when it comes to multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing.

Many were built dur­ing the re­cent prop­erty boom when the gov­ern­ment de­manded high den­sity, though most de­vel­op­ers are now con­cen­trat­ing on cre­at­ing de­tached houses.

“The three storey town houses of­fer flex­i­bil­ity to have a self-con­tained suite but at the mo­ment the mass mar­ket is de­mand­ing de­tached homes and so that is what we are con­cen­trat­ing on,” says Ian.

“I think there is a case for build­ing self-con­tained el­e­ments or an­nexes into a new house to ac­com­mo­date grown-up chil­dren or el­derly rel­a­tives but it would be a niche area and one a smaller de­vel­oper could bet­ter ex­ploit.

“For us it prob­a­bly wouldn’t stack up fi­nan­cially be­cause of the ex­tra space you would need and to be hon­est I don’t think there will ever be a big mar­ket for them.

“I don’t think we’ll ever em­brace multi-gen­er­a­tional liv­ing in the way they do in Spain and Italy, where they have a very in­te­grated fam­ily life in the same house. We’re too in­su­lar and we value our own space too much.”

Kevin Hollinrake, MD of Hunters, of­fers some hope and says that the pres­sure on par­ents will ease when first time buyer mort­gages be­come eas­ier to ob­tain.

“There is no doubt that we are see­ing chil­dren stay­ing at home for longer than they did in the past but I think there is a very sim­ple so­lu­tion and that is for the banks turn the tap back on. Prop­erty prices aren’t the prob­lem here in York­shire. It’s the de­posits, which seem to be get­ting higher and higher. When that changes young peo­ple will have a chance of mov­ing out into their own homes.”

Ric Blenkharn, mean­while, be­lieves that rent­ing could of­fer flex­i­bil­ity for ev­ery­one.

“There still seems to be a stigma about the so­cial and pri­vate rented sec­tor here that does not af­fect other Eu­ro­pean coun­tries. I think the only rem­edy to this is to de­stroy the myth about home own­er­ship.

“When we own a home fi­nan­cial stran­gle­holds pre­vent move­ment so we have to adapt our en­vi­ron­ments to suit. Rent­ing of­fers flex­i­bil­ity to choose ac­com­mo­da­tion ap­pro­pri­ate to your sit­u­a­tion.”

HIGH SO­CI­ETY: Beam­s­ley Hall is in an idyl­lic spot with mag­nif­i­cent views of Ilk­ley Moor. Inside, the Duke and Duchess of Devon­shire have cre­ated a fab­u­louis fam­ily home and out­side the Duke’s pas­sion for gar­dens is ev­i­dent.

HIGH LIFE: Loft con­ver­sions, like this from Econoloft, can of­fer self­con­tained space for “chadults”.

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