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One increasing trend being witnessed in Australia is multiple generations of the same family (grandparents, parents and children) choosing to live together on the same property. In fact, as many as one in five Australians live in multigenerational households, according to a recent study by the University of New South Wales (UNSW). The reasons for multigenerational living are likely varied and personal in nature, but could be influenced by job uncertainty caused by the pandemic, record-breaking house prices, a lack of affordable housing, and even elderly parents moving into a Granny Flat as an alternative to expensive and overcrowded aged care facilities. To prepare your family for long-term living arrangement success, it’s important to address a few potential issues before they arise. In this article, we have prepared a checklist for moving in with your family:
1. Formalise your shared living arrangement with a Granny Flat Agreement
It is often the case that families avoid setting up formal agreements between family members, preferring a casual consensus rather than formalising the expectations, rights and obligations of each person involved. However, there is nothing worse than ongoing miserable situations, heated misunderstandings or arguments – especially when it comes to family. Taking the time to put an agreement in place such as clearly stating who owns the home, will protect family members and can help make everyone feel more comfortable from the outset.
For example, if your elderly parents have put money towards building a Granny Flat on your (their child’s) land, you need to clearly outline who owns the joint property. What if an elderly parent needs the money from their Granny Flat investment in order to pay for medical expenses? What happens to the value of the Granny Flat when both elderly parents pass away? It’s also a good idea to clarify who pays what rates and taxes, and in what proportion, before you move in together.
For more information about Granny Flat Agreements, you can read our article What is a Granny Flat Agreement?
2. Decide on multigenerational living house plans
Whether there will be two generations living together or three generations living together, it’s beneficial to think about the layout of your existing property. Don’t make the error of simply counting the number of bedrooms you have! Beyond sleeping arrangements, think about space requirements, and distinguish between what will be a social space versus what areas will be private zones. For example, are you going to cook together and eat as a family, or at different times? Will you all watch the same TV show or need different areas for down time?
A Granny Flat is a great way to live close to family while maintaining the sense of privacy required for daily life. With its own living area, kitchen and bathroom, there is no need to wait or schedule in specific shower times each day! If you don’t have much usable area in your backyard, Attached Granny Flats and home extensions are other alternatives if you need to adjust the space in your home to accommodate your changing family’s needs.
3. Consider implications for your will, and what is fair for all family members
Where families have multiple adult children, it’s important to consider how the children are treated in your wills if one adult child has moved back home and the other has not. If you simply divide everything equally amongst your children in your will, would that be viewed as fair to any children who didn’t move back home for a period of time? One solution is to include an ‘equalisation clause’ in your will, which recognises the benefit received by the child who moved to live back home and makes an adjustment according to what share of the estate each child receives. An alternative is to ask the child who is moving back home to pay rent or pay board for their occupancy, so there is no dispute of fairness amongst the family.
In the case where the aging parents are moving into the child’s home and that child is not their only child, you could consider making an adjustment to the will that recognises being cared for, so that child gets more of the estate.
4. Remedy any potential accessibility issues
Accessibility is a vital consideration for successful multigenerational living, whether you have family members moving in who are elderly and have limited mobility, or younger family members with a disability, or even for parents with young children who simply need easy access for their prams. Even if your senior relatives are able to travel up stairs now, it’s beneficial to plan for the long-term and future-proof the home for functionality, so that once they get older and less mobile they are still able to easily enter the home.
Cubitt’s have decades of experience building specialist disability accommodation and can build custom additions for accessibility to any of our Granny Flat models - such as adding wheelchair ramps, wider doorframes for easy access, raising or lowering benches, reconfigured wardrobes and spacious bedrooms so your loved ones have room to manoeuvre comfortably, with handrail installation available in the bathroom if required.
5. Build the usable space you need
Are you planning to keep your family close? Whether it is to support your young adult children get a head start in life and save for a home deposit, or helping your elderly parents to live their golden years surrounded by grandchildren, familiar settings and support that only family can provide - Cubitt’s are the experts at building a home ready for multigenerational living.
Over 25 years, Cubitt’s have been building Granny Flats and home extensions in Sydney, Newcastle and the Central Coast, Wollongong and the Illawarra region, regional NSW, Canberra and throughout the ACT. Our experienced sales and design consultants can help you plan for your family’s future, and can provide a number of options such as home extensions, Granny Flats and attached Granny Flats.
Even if you have always believed there is no space in your backyard to build on, Cubitt’s can design a solution that works for your property. Do you have a pool you no longer use? We can build over it! Cubitt’s handpicks the most skilled and reliable tradesmen in the industry, and have the expertise required to build on sloping, narrow or difficult blocks of land. We leverage our longevity and knowledge of the industry to proactively source the best building materials from world-class suppliers at affordable prices for our customers.
We are passionate about providing a stress-free experience. Cubitt’s provides every customer with a dedicated project manager to keep you updated every step of the journey, while our experienced council planning and drafting teams will handle the approvals process for you, and have a deep understanding of the complexities of working with various local councils.
Our friendly team are ready to listen to your needs. Call our award-winning customer service team on 1300 721 150.
Cubitt's is staffed by a professional team of draftsmen and builders with years of experience. Ask us about the Cubitt's Advantage today.