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Homes for multiple generations
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"They're all members of the same family, but different generations," he says. "They say it's been an extremely positive experience. They have a big, huge common living room for lots of interaction, and yet have private space, too."

While the Monolithic Dome, a heavily insulated structure made with steel-reinforced concrete, has been used for many single-family homes, South says Yumadome is the first multigenerational application, but he expects it will catch on. The compound dome idea is particularly good for caring for aging relatives, he says -- "much better than a room over the garage."

South says the dome shape has several advantages over traditional home design. "In conventional construction, the closer to square you build, the less heat loss you have, but with a monolithic dome, heat loss is close to zero."

The cost to build a dome, South says, is "within pennies per square foot" of building a conventional dwelling.

Affordability a consideration
While the cost of a house custom designed for multigenerational living is the same as any home of equal square footage, its proponents point out that with several generations paying one mortgage, the financial burden may actually be less.

"Caring for aging parents is a huge issue, and a design that allows aging in place is a lot less expensive than paying for retirement housing or professional caregiving environments," Greenup says.

Bankrate.com's corrections policy -- Posted: Sept. 14, 2006
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