Living together

Multi-generational living can benefit everyone

By Roy Nandram

There are many factors to consider when you renovate your home because of lifestyle changes. Renovations help enhance your living conditions and aesthetics. They also improve the quality of life for all members of your household.

The pandemic has influenced what we want and need in a home. For the past two years, many of us have been spending more time at home, and that has given us plenty of time to think about how we want to live.

We might be considering what upgrades we need to create more livable spaces for ourselves and our families, or how to renovate to make better use of the space we already have. Remote work and learning have led many of us to need multifunctional rooms and home offices.

In this era of future uncertainty, multi-generational housing is becoming increasingly common. Many homeowners are deciding to renovate their homes to accommodate additional family members now living with them. This means they have to consider what is needed for all family members, including children, parents, and even grandparents. Older children are staying longer with their parents, and aging family members who may need more help are moving back in with their children.

If you’re considering multi-generational living, you’ll have to plan carefully in order to include the needs of each individual. For elderly members of the family, independence and therefore accessibility is very important. This could include renovations such as curbless showers, grab bars, ramps, and possibly an elevator.

Privacy is equally important and can be difficult with so many members under one roof. Some solutions include adding a secondary dwelling unit in the basement with a separate entrance or creating a separate unit in the main part of the house. In the case of a secondary dwelling unit, this may also mean earning extra income to help meet your financial obligations.

Another cohabitating arrangement is an innovative design where a semi-detached home has four private apartments along with shared spaces. A recent article in the Ottawa Citizen highlighted such a concept where four senior women share common areas but still have their privacy in their own two-bedroom apartments complete with a kitchen and living room.

Many people are now designing their renovation so they will be able to “age in place”. Turning your attention to products and innovative features that can help you stay in their own home longer will result in a better quality of life as you age. Adding provisions such as an elevator (or rough-in for a future elevator), stair lift, ramp, accessible bathrooms, wider doors and hallways, primary bedroom on the main floor, plus future accommodations for caregivers are all things to consider.

Given the amount of time spent indoors, improving your home’s indoor air quality is key. Airtight windows, upgraded insulation, Heat Recovery Ventilators (HRV) and Energy Recovery Ventilators (ERV) have a huge impact on living a healthy and sustainable life. You might also incorporate more sustainable, eco-friendly products and techniques into your home (ie. cork flooring, solar panels). More intense weather patterns and changes in nature’s cycles are affecting our lives and as a result, many homeowners are adding backup generators.

There are many changes that happen in one’s lifetime; but know that there are numerous options out there to help you renovate your home and enhance your lifestyle as it evolves.

Roy Nandram is president of RND Construction.

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