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Homes for multiple generations
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Quail Construction in Vancouver, Wash., has built 40 to 50 homes for extended and nontraditional families, says President Jon L. Girod. He says there's no standard template; each home is custom-designed. Prices range from $400,000 to $600,000.

"We had an 82-year-old client buy a fairly large home," he says, "with one level on top and one with full services in the basement below that included a complete kitchen and laundry room. His idea was he could have a live-in caretaker."

The arrangement also works well for families that prefer to take care of an aging parent at home rather than put them in a skilled nursing facility, he says.

Some Quail clients have adult children with special needs, Girod says, "who will be with them for the long haul." Others have children going to college who may be living at home or coming back to stay from time to time.

"There are a lot of different dynamics. I had one situation where a couple of divorced nurses at a hospital wanted to live together," he says. "Each had three children. One worked days and the other worked nights. They figured child care would be easier if they teamed up and bought a house together."

Girod says he has also designed two-story homes with double master suites and homes with two kitchens.

"Privacy is a big issue," Girod says. "So is accessibility." Quail uses "universal design" products, which are designed for maximum usability by people of all ages and abilities, to increase accessibility in multigenerational homes, he says.

While there's definitely a growing market for multigenerational housing, he says, the concept only works on lots of at least 6,000 square feet -- not easy to find, especially in urban areas.

Home in the dome
In the Arizona desert, five related families occupy a mammoth compound of bubbles called Yumadome. Built by the Monolithic Dome Institute of Italy, Texas, the three-story structure has eight separate but interconnected apartments, says David South, Monolithic's owner and president.

Next: "...much better than a room over the garage."
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