Top Considerations When Building a Multigenerational Home

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Building a multigenerational home has many similarities to building any custom home; however, because a multigenerational home’s use is different from a traditional single family home there are several important items to consider when you are designing a multigenerational home. 

Whether you are building your multigenerational home in Idaho or in another state in the U.S., we’ve created this guide to help you navigate some important design considerations. Doing so will help to ensure that the design of your home facilitates a comfortable living situation for everyone in your household and creates the ideal living situation for each generation.

Before we jump into the top considerations when building a multigenerational home, let’s define what a multigenerational home is.

What does a multigenerational household mean?

A multigenerational household means two or more adult generations living in the same home. Another definition of a multigenerational household is one with three generations living together in the same home. For our purposes here, we’ll consider a multigenerational household as two or more adult generations living together.

This could include grandparents, parents, and school-age children or younger all living together in the same household. Another common example of a multigenerational household is young adult children and their parents living together in the same home.

Multigenerational Living On The Rise

It’s likely no surprise that multigenerational households are on the rise in the U.S. with many recent changes in multigenerational living making the news. In 2020, the pandemic helped push the popularity of multigenerational households, with more young adults ages 18 to 29 living with their parents than any other time since this measure was first recorded beginning in 1940 (Source: PEW research). 

Across all age ranges, the percentage of the US population living in multigenerational households has increased dramatically over the past several decades. While the percentages vary between 18% and 26% depending on the source, there is no debate that the number is on the rise. There are various reasons for this growth, with one of the factors being the financial incentives of multiple generations living together under one roof.

Benefits of Multigenerational Households

We won’t go into the details about the benefits of living in a multi generational household here, but it is important to understand some of the benefits if you are considering building a multigenerational home for use now, or for potential future use.

1. Financial Benefit

The financial benefit is one of the top reasons that families decide to live together in a multigenerational home. As housing affordability issues continue to rise, including in Meridian and other counties in Idaho, this financial incentive can become more and more appealing. In fact, multigenerational housing can also be a great way to help reduce the demand for single-family homes, which can have an impact community-wide.

2. Better Relationships

Living with your family members provides the benefit of improved family relationships. Because of proximity, you are much more likely to enjoy quality time with your loved ones which may be more difficult or inconvenient when living apart. When building a multigenerational home, communal spaces are an important piece to consider to better facilitate this quality time together.

3. Enhanced Care

Another top benefit and reason for living in a multigenerational home is the ability to provide enhanced care for all family members. In a multigenerational home with younger children this may mean grandparents becoming the primary caregivers for children when parents are at work. Where there are elderly parents living with their children, this means being able to care for aging loved ones directly or being able to better oversee their care.

Common Types of Multigenerational Floor Plans

When building a multigenerational home, you have many options to create a home that fits everyone’s needs. The floor plan you ultimately decide to build will be dependent on your family, your preferences, how you want to use your home, and, potentially, zoning considerations in your area.

Two common floor plans to consider for multigenerational housing are a completely separate ADU to be used as a secondary residence with its own separate living space. This is a great option for families that want to maintain a certain level of independence and privacy while taking advantage of the financial benefits of multigenerational living. Many families with adult children living with their parents may find this an appealing option. 

This can also be a great option if you envision your family’s use changing over time as the ADU can also be rented out to another family, used as a short term rental, or perhaps converted to a separate office if you no longer need or want to use it for multigenerational living. This is also an excellent option to turn your current residence into a multigenerational home. For more on ADUs, learn about the benefits of building an ADU in Boise or view our ADU floor plans.

The alternative to the ADU option is a floor plan that keeps everyone under one roof in a single structure. This option can be designed to maintain the same level of privacy as an ADU, but keeps family members in closer proximity. This can be a great option when there are potential health concerns that reduce an older family member’s independence. It can also be designed to foster better relationships between family members with more shared spaces. For an example of this floor plan, check out our most popular multigenerational floor plan – Panorama.

Top Design Considerations When Building a Multigenerational Home

Building a multigenerational home can actually be a more affordable option than renovating an existing home. When you decide to build a multigenerational home, you’ll gain the benefit of being able to design and build the perfect home for your family’s situation, which can be invaluable. 

If you are considering your options between renovating an existing home for multigenerational living or building a custom home to meet your families needs, you may find this information on building versus buying a home in Idaho helpful.
Once you’ve decided to build a multigenerational home, these are our top tips to consider to ensure you have a home that is designed to enhance your family’s living situation. A well-designed custom home plan can ensure that your entire family is completely comfortable, while maximizing the benefits of multigenerational living.

Design Considerations to Enhance Privacy

Privacy is one of the top considerations for families who are building a multigenerational home. Having space to yourself is often thought of as one of the challenges of multigenerational living, but if you make these considerations while building, your home can easily meet the privacy needs of each generation.

Separate Entrances

This is one of the top considerations when building a multigenerational home to better facilitate privacy. Having a separate entrance helps family members to feel a sense of autonomy and independence. It can be a small design change that makes a big impact. As a bonus a separate entrance can help to avoid any disturbance to other family members when different generations are coming and going on different schedules.

Separate Amenities

If your multigenerational home includes an ADU this will already be built in, but if you are building under one roof, consider adding separate amenities such as a separate kitchen or kitchenette and laundry area. This gives adults in different generations additional privacy and provides more space so that no one feels like they are getting in the way of another family member.

Separate the Bedrooms

Another great way to enhance privacy and create a better living environment across generations is to separate the bedroom areas. In a single family home it can be typical to have all bedrooms in the same area of the home, i.e. all on the second level. Separating the location of the bedrooms into different areas of the home allows for family members to have more privacy. 

You can separate the bedroom areas when building a multigenerational home either across multiple levels of the home, such as a master suite with separate entrance on the first floor and all other bedrooms on the second floor. Another method if you are building a single level home is to have bedrooms on separate sides of common areas. 

An additional benefit of this layout is that it can help prevent potential conflicts should different generations be on different schedules. As an example, if grandparents go to bed around 8pm, while teenage children stay up later, having this separation can ensure noise from family members that are awake isn’t a problem for other family members trying to sleep.


This is another reason some families also choose to add soundproofing to walls when building a multigenerational home. Soundproofing adds another level of privacy while also helping prevent noise from either common areas or other family member’s activities from disturbing another member of the family. Soundproofing can be used throughout the home or in specific walls that act as dividers from sleeping spaces or common areas.

Using Your Space Wisely

When building a multigenerational home, space is another key consideration as you’ll generally have more people living in a multigenerational home than you would otherwise. To maximize the space you have doesn’t always mean you need greater square footage. While that can help, you can also consider changes to common area design or building in flexible living spaces to make better use of the space you do have.

Kitchen Space

Most commonly your multigenerational home will have one main kitchen. You can be smart with your design by building in additional storage space, either in the form of a dedicated pantry or additional cabinet space. Doing so means you’ll have the extra space to accommodate different food preferences, even with more people living in your home. You also want to consider building in separate areas with counter space, so that if multiple people are using the kitchen at the same time, they don’t feel like they are constantly bumping into each other while cooking.

Storage Space

Similarly, you’ll want to consider storage space throughout your home. With multiple adult generations living together, you are likely to have more things. Creating additional areas for storage means everyone has a place for their possessions without cluttering the common living space. 

This can be something simple such as building in floor-to-ceiling storage in a common area of your home. Floor-to-ceiling storage takes advantage of space that typically goes unused. So you are incorporating additional storage, without needing to add square footage to your home. 

Another great way to build in storage can be to add storage cabinets above closets. Using a cabinet above your closet takes advantage of the extra space between closet and ceiling, but makes the space more accessible than if it were inside the closet.

One of the most obvious ways to maximize storage is to make sure your home includes designated closets throughout. A common practice when building a multigenerational home is multiple master suites, which can include more storage space in each room giving each generation ample storage space within their personal areas of the home.

Outdoor Areas

Another great way to maximize space when building a multigenerational home is to incorporate outdoor living areas. In Idaho, outdoor space isn’t usable year round, but when the weather is nice having designated patio space with an outdoor dining area and furniture can have a huge benefit in enhancing your space at a low cost.

Flexible Living Spaces

When designing a multigenerational home, it’s important to create spaces that can serve multiple purposes. Outdoor areas, which we just mentioned, are one way to build in flexible space. It can act as a dining room for the whole family or be a separate dining area when privacy is desired. An outdoor space can also be used as another place to lounge and relax. 

An open floor plan is great to build in the space to gather together and build togetherness, but there are times when not everyone wants to do the same thing. This is where spaces like a separate office or smaller TV room can be beneficial. Ideally you’ll want a door or wall to create some separation from other spaces so that these flexible spaces can be used with less disturbance to family members using other areas of the home and vice versa.

Garage Considerations

When multiple adult generations are living together, it’s likely you’ll have more vehicles, so considering a larger garage is a good idea. Whether it’s an oversize two car garage that can provide additional storage space or it’s adding the third bay to accommodate another vehicle, the extra garage space can be particularly beneficial in a multigenerational home. 

If the need for additional garage space changes in the future, that extra space can always be converted to a separate hangout spot. Keeping this in mind, we highly recommend insulating your garage so that it is more comfortable no matter what it may be used for going forward. A side benefit of this will be improved energy efficiency. This is part of the reason that we include garage insulation as a standard feature in all of the custom homes we build at Pathway Builders.

Maximizing Functionality

Privacy and space considerations are important considerations when building a multigenerational home and they can both lead to better home functionality; however, there are several other things to consider when you are designing a custom home that will further improve the function and experience for everyone involved.

Multiple Master Suites

We mentioned this as a common inclusion, but it’s worth noting again as having this additional space with an en suite bathroom provides a more comfortable and functional living space. You can consider enhancing one or both master suites with their own laundry area or kitchenette for additional functionality but at a minimum, we’d highly recommend the second master suite.


When building a multigenerational home designed for older or aging adults, accessibility features are important to consider. This means doorways 40 inches or wider. It means a single level or at least one bedroom on the first floor of the home. It also means avoiding steps up or down from different rooms of the house.

In the bathrooms, you’ll want to ensure that at least one bathroom is large enough to accommodate a second person should one of your family members need assistance bathing. You’ll also want to consider a walk-in shower and installing a handheld shower head which will make it easier for anyone with mobility issues to shower. 

To improve accessibility in the kitchen, you can add countertops at different heights, or build in adjustable height countertops and cabinets. This means everyone can comfortably use the kitchen with a countertop that can adjust to their desired height.

Lighting Preferences

Having ample natural light in your home is desirable whether you are building a traditional single family home or a multigenerational home, but considering lighting is essential for multigenerational households.

According to AARP older adults need 70% more light than younger people. So when you have multiple generations in a single household, you’ll likely have many different lighting preferences. Building in ample natural light is helpful and so is adjustable lighting. You can use smart lights set to individual family members preferences or you can use traditional adjustable lighting. Whichever you choose, including this when designing your multigenerational home will have a big impact, on both safety and comfort.

HVAC Considerations

When it comes to your HVAC system, consider adding multi zoned or separate HVAC systems in different parts of your home. Doing so provides the ability for different family members to keep their personal spaces at a temperature they consider comfortable. In some cases having these independent systems can also save on heating and cooling costs as an additional benefit that goes beyond comfort.

Thinking Long Term

With multigenerational housing on the rise and no indication of a reversal of this trend, building a multigenerational home can be beneficial even if you plan to sell your home in the future. When you are building a completely custom home you also have the ability to consider your family’s future needs. Considering this potential future use while designing your home can help you save on future renovation costs and improve your future living situation. 

One of the most important things to think about is changing health considerations. While all family members may be independent and mobile now, for most adults mobility can become a challenge with age. Mobility is an important consideration when thinking about and planning for the future.

Single Level or Bedroom On the First Floor

Consider building a single story home, or at the very least including one master suite on the first floor of the home. This will ensure that any family members with future mobility issues still have their own independent space, without relying on someone else to help them move around the home.

Building More Bedrooms

If you have the space, you may be tempted to add square footage to your common areas like kitchen or living room; however, as we mentioned previously, building in flexible space is important. 

Bedrooms are a great way to build flexibility in your space to keep up with changing family needs. Having a separate space with a door means a bedroom can be used for many other purposes besides being simply a bedroom. It can become an office space, a separate playroom or game room, a craft room, or it can simply be a separate space for a family member to enjoy privacy outside their own room.

The flexibility provided with additional bedrooms can be especially beneficial as your family’s needs change in the future.


Beyond these considerations, working with a custom home builder who has experience building multigenerational homes can be invaluable as a source of expertise and tips to build the best home for your family.

If you are considering building a multigenerational home in the Boise area or southwest Idaho, get in touch with us for a free consultation. You can also take a look at our home plans to find a plan you like and get an instant quote. All of our home plans can be customized to meet the needs you have for your multigenerational home. If you don’t see something you like, we can also help with a fully custom design for your home.