Successful multi-generational living

PUBLISHED: 12:08 03 August 2016 | UPDATED: 17:50 04 August 2016

Living with an extended family can be a good solution (Photo: monkeybusinessimages)

Living with an extended family can be a good solution (Photo: monkeybusinessimages)


Nick Ingle, head of Savills Harpenden sales looks at how living with extended family can be a workable solution to issues, if well understood and agreed by all parties

In his trilogy of plays, The Norman Conquests, Alan Ayckbourn highlights the complexities faced by different generations of a family and by members living under one roof. The scene opens on Annie, the spinster daughter who shares the family home with her mother for whom she cares. Her need for a break from her grinding daily routine and her bitterness at the lack of help from her brother or sister becomes quickly apparent to the audience.

Ayckbourn cleverly and amusingly shows how multi-generational living can go wrong if not adequately discussed.

But with the right planning, it can work well and be a viable solution to many modern-day issues – such as property affordability, a solution for childcare for working-parent families or care for an elderly relative.

Here are my five top tips on what you need to consider if you thinking about investing in a multi-generational home:

1 Decide who is going to own the property – will it be owned outright by one party or will it be shared? If owned outright, discuss what will happen should the owner decide to sell and what happens in the case of a death. There are two options for shared ownership – joint tenancy, whereby the property is owned in equal part by two or more tenants and when one tenant dies, that share is divided automatically between the other owners. A tenants-in-common agreement is where each party has a fixed share of the property. If one owner dies, his or her share is inherited according to the will.

2 When looking for a property, recognise that everyone will have different requirements and think about how the space could be used and shared.

3 Draw boundaries. It will be important that everyone understands and respects different individual’s needs, including privacy, noise levels, having guests over and any other aspect of living where there could be conflict or confusion.

4 Decide who will be responsible for what. For instance, who will pay the bills? If the care of an elderly relative or childcare is part of the deal, discuss and agree who will be responsible for what and when.

5 Think about how needs may change over the medium and long term when thinking about a suitable property. Will it still be practical when the toddlers become teenagers, or if an elderly relative can no longer manage the stairs?

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