How The Changing Structure of the American Family is Changing Floor Plans in New Homes
New homes are back in a big way — literally. This summer, a typical new house in Phoenix was more than 20 percent larger than a resale home as builders across the country added more space to accommodate post-recession lifestyles.
Take Jacque Ruggles’ family, for example. Four women from three generations live under one roof.
“I’m the matriarch,” Ruggles says. “I’m grandma.”
Ruggles makes the monthly $1,789 mortgage payment on the 2,900-square-foot home in Gilbert, Ariz., which she bought new about a year and a half ago. Her daughter, Marci Dusseault, lives here, too, along with her college-aged daughter, Jamie.
“I’ll eventually move out, but right now it’s nice to not have to worry about a lot of bills and stuff, and I can focus on school,” says Jamie, a student at Mesa Community College.
But the family affair did not stop there. Jamie’s older sister moved in last November. Chelsie, 22, had been living on her own for a while, but …
Ida Christian, who suffers from dementia, gets help from her granddaughter, Yolanda Hunter (left), in blowing out the candles on her birthday cake. Yolanda quit her lucrative job to become Ida’s full-time caregiver.
“Then life happens,” says Chelsie, who lost her job and racked up $6,000 in credit card debt. “So I had to move back in.”
Their home was made for this type of living. It includes an attached 600-square-foot suite, complete with a kitchenette and living room.
Nineteen-year-old Jamie was the lucky one to get the suite. The walls are bright red and covered with pictures of her friends. Her mom jokes that Jamie will not be leaving anytime soon.
“She’s going to live with me until she’s at least 40,” Marci says.
A Demand For Bigger Homes
The homebuilder, Lennar, now offers these so-called “NextGen” floor plans in 18 states. The company says 25 percent of its sales in Arizona last year were NextGen homes.
And there is competition. Maracay Homes spent 18 months post-recession and $4 million studying demographic trends, says spokeswoman Gina Canzonetta.
Maracay’s designers took note of today’s struggling adult children moving home and the millions of aging baby boomers who will need affordable places to live for years to come.
“It’s the new normal,” Canzonetta says. “It’s how we live post-recession.”
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