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10 Examples of Intergenerational/Multigenerational Homes

Last modified: 2020-09-07 | Approximate reading time 7 mins

Léa Plourde-Archer

A few decades ago, it was expected that several generations from the same family would share the same home. Grandparents, parents, grandchildren, uncles and aunts lived together, as services like housing for the elderly or daycares were not commonly available.  

As time passed, single-family homes became the norm and the tradition of living between several generations in the same property was lost, at least in the West. However, these days, there is a certain upswing in the popularity of intergenerational (or multigenerational) homes. These types of properties are also known as in-law suites, granny pods or secondary suites, among other names. 

There isn't a unique type of intergenerational home. We can find something for all tastes and preferences. Here are a few examples: 

  • A home with an individual apartment in the basement
  • A yard with two separate homes (both the same size, or a tiny house with a regular house)
  • A yard with two homes that are connected (semi-detached or homes connected by a room or a corridor)
  • A big home that is shared
  • A duplex/triplex/quadruplex with individual apartments
  • A home extension on an existing building

10 examples of intergenerational homes to give you ideas for your project

1) Two individual homes sharing the same yard

Maison intergénérationelle city home 01_Intergenerational home city home 01

Maison intergénérationelle city home 02_Intergenerational home city home 02

Photo: MyMove

The first example that attracted our attention in this list is a property that hosts two individual homes. The main home is occupied by the family with children, whilst the smaller home is used as a dwelling for the grandparents. 

There is a disparity between the sizes of the homes, but these perfectly suit the needs of each person. The yard is shared, with a pool, a spa and a welcoming patio for all to enjoy. 

2) A basement in-law suite for the parents

Apartement pour parents au sous-sol 01_in-law suite basement 01

Apartement pour parents au sous-sol 02_in-law suite basement 02

Photo: House and Home

In some cases, an individual accommodation is built in the basement of the home. This involves having to find a way to create a living space that is welcoming and full of natural light. If you are already a homeowner, you may consider a basement refurbishing project. 

Otherwise, if you decide to work with a real estate agent to buy a new home, the presence of a basement may become one of your requirements. 

3) A multigenerational home with an in-law suite on the ground floor

Grande maison interégénérationelle 01_intergenerational home 01

Grande maison interégénérationelle 02_intergenerational home 02

Photo: The Design Files

This house contains two living spaces that can be separated or connected, according to the needs and preferences of the occupants. The property is modern, luminous and built according to eco-friendly principles. 

The design of the building also makes it possible to create spaces that foster shared moments with family and other sections that allow the occupants to enjoy satisfying privacy.

4) An ultra-modern shared home

Maison bigénération contemporaine 01_multigenerational home contemporary 01

Maison bigénération contemporaine 02_multigenerational home contemporary 02

Photo: Howeler Yoon

Are you fans of contemporary architecture? Here is an intergenerational home that you should like. All the members of this extended family share the same property. However, this does not mean that they are stepping on each others' toes! 

The house is big, airy and designed with three main volumes, including the bedroom section, the living area section and another part for bedrooms. 

5) A factory-built multigenerational home

Maison intergénérationelle usinée 01_factory built home multigenerational 01

Maison intergénérationelle usinée 02_factory built home multigenerational 02

Photo: Minicucci architecte

If you're having a hard time finding the ideal multigenerational home, why not buy land and install a new dwelling that will fulfill your needs? You can hire an architect to create the plan from scratch or buy a factory-built pre-designed home, as shown in the example hereabove. 

6) An multigenerational home that is warm and welcoming

Maison intergénérationelle accueillante 01_welcoming intergenerational home 01

Maison intergénérationelle accueillante 02_welcoming intergenerational home 02

Photo: Apartment Therapy

When looking to build a multigenerational home in a densely populated area, one needs to be daring and creative. It's even more complicated when you want to integrate green spaces, a veritable "tour de force" that has been achieved in this case by the builders of this home. There are no fewer than four terraces and garden areas around the home. 

These spaces become meeting spots for members of the family that share the home. The building is split into two sections, including the main area where the young family lives and the independent suite that houses the grand-parents. 

7) An intergenerational home that was built according to eco-friendly principles

Maison écologique bigénération 01_eco-friendly intergenerational home 01

Maison écologique bigénération 02_eco-friendly intergenerational home 02

Photo: Ecohabitation - Charles O'Hara photographer

Most of the examples that we have presented in this article are located around the world, but here is a multigenerational home that has been designed and built in Canada. TERGOS architecture + construction is the firm that is behind the conception and development of this impressively-designed home. 

The building is divided into two sections, including a part that is a single-story section and another part that is spread out over two floors. The young family lives in the second part whilst the parents are housed in the single-story dwelling. 

8) A two-in-one home for the whole family!

Maison deux en un 01_two in one home 01

Maison deux en un 02_two in one home 02

Photo: TICA architecture

Four generations shared this lovely property. Like in several examples presented in this article, the building is divided into two dwellings, the difference being that in this case, several areas are shared between the occupants, such as the cellar in the basement, the workshop on the ground floor as well as an exterior terrace.  

The building was also designed to maximize the amount of land available so that the family can enjoy the outdoor area. Located on the edge of the water, the house is also very airy and luminous. These are some great characteristics that should please several generations! 

9) Sharing and privacy: two connected homes 

Maison de ville partagée 01_shared townhouse 01

Maison de ville partagée 02_shared townhouse 02

Photo: Williamson Williamson

Would you prefer to share a yard while having separate homes? Here is a type of multigenerational home that you may like. The two homes are connected in the middle, but they are still almost completely independent one from the other. 

In their daily lives, the families can live separately. They only meet up when they want to. This is perfect for people who want to maintain their autonomy and remain close if someone needs help. 

10) A townhouse shared by a large family

Maisons partagées en famille 01_shared family homes 01

Maisons partagées en famille 02_shared family homes 02

Photo: Ben Rahn / A-Frame Inc.

Here is another example of an intergenerational home that is located in a somewhat dense urban area. Among the other challenges that one may face when choosing to build this type of house in an urban setting, one must also think about the fact that municipal by-laws can act as a barrier with which we have to deal, or that have to be bypassed in some way or another.  

This is what happened during the building process of this property, and the architects found great compromises that pleased the homeowners whilst abiding by the law. 

Important: being aware of the municipal by-laws when building multigenerational homes

If you decide to start working on a construction or transformation project for an intergenerational home or an in-law suite, it will be important for you to be aware of the rules that are currently in effect. Each city has its own rules and laws, so you shouldn't rely on any vague information that you may have found on the internet. 

Get in touch with your municipal authorities and have written proof of all the information that you receive. Normally, architects and contractors with whom you do business should be aware of these rules, but you cannot take this for granted, especially since the rules can change over time! 

Here are a few articles published in the past few years that cover the different realities of building in-law suites in cities across Canada:

Other articles about in-law suites and intergenerational homes

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