For many families, the new-home search is inspired by a change in generational dynamics.
Grandparents may still live in a house that’s too large or too old and in need of repairs. Young parents may need convenient child care and schools without living too far from the kids’ grandparents. Adult children may need a place to land while starting their lives as independent young adults.
The decision-making balancing act may include a cost-benefit analysis of renovating, adding to or otherwise altering an existing home, buying one or more new homes or considering upscale 55+ communities.
Which is best: Purchasing a new home within an active-adult community, purchasing a new, larger home or adding a dwelling unit to an existing home?
There’s no one-size-fits-all answer. And builders in California are ready with new-home solutions that serve families whose household dynamics are changing.
The answer comes down to lifestyle needs and abilities.
A whole family living together
From bedroom and bathroom configurations to indoor-outdoor living with ease, builders offer a variety of choices to make multigenerational living possible and comfortable.
Ask builders about smooth flooring transitions between rooms and between the inside and outside. As the California Room grows in popularity, new-home buyers appreciate having a covered outdoor room that has seamless, hazard-free flooring leading from the family room or kitchen to this outdoor space.
Single-story living features take high priority with households of three generations and they’re available in both one-level and multilevel home plans. Ask builders about main-level en suite bedrooms and bathrooms. Be sure to incorporate a barrier-free, walk-in shower that doesn’t require stepping over a curb.
While planning, see if this main-level en suite can be large enough to have its own sitting area. The people who use this room will then enjoy a private retreat area.
Some builders may be able to incorporate private entryways to main-level en suite bedrooms. Others may be able to accommodate requests for an expanded suite with a private entrance, a bedroom, bathroom, living area and kitchen.
Be sure to learn about zoning of this unit within the home. In some cases, this unit may qualify as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) that can be rented separately to a family member or for income purposes.
Accessorize with ADUs
Here’s a new way to think of home accessorizing: Add an ADU.
A backyard home may be the perfect solution for everyone from grandparents and remote workers to young adults. ADU builders offer stand-alone homes ranging from studios to two-bedroom units with a bathroom and a kitchen.
Because an ADU may require that the primary home’s lot is at least 6,000 square feet, express your interest in ADUs to the builder. If an ADU won’t fit in the yard, ask if the community’s CC&Rs can accommodate attaching an ADU.
The lifestyle of active adults
Active-adult communities offer a distinct way of life that may not be available in other developments or subdivisions. A planned, 55+, active-adult community may feature concierge-style living and amenities mirroring upscale resorts or clubs.
Some also include tiered approaches such as fully independent living, partial assisted living, fully assisted living and memory-care options.
But first the basics. Buyers and full-time residents of homes designated for people 55 and older must be at least 55 years of age by the time the sale is complete. Most of the time, this rule is waived if one spouse is younger than 55. Some communities offer exceptions for in-home caregivers or for people with certain disabilities.
Before falling in love with a community, it’s wise to check with the community’s CC&Rs around age requirements.
While many active-adult communities welcome visits from children and grandchildren under the age of 55, there may be limits on the number of days, nights or weeks per year that younger people may visit. These limits help maintain the private aspects that people invest in when purchasing in a 55+ community.
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