Multi-Generational Homes: To Build, Renovate or Add?

Your guide to accommodating your multi-generational family under one roof.


As inherently social beings, we crave connection with one another and an increasing trend towards multi-general homes suggests we crave it more than we thought. 

Whether you have an ageing parent that requires more support, adult children living at home who are looking to extend their stay or your child and their family need to decrease their expenses, creating a living space that’s conducive to multiple generations may be the answer. 

The benefits of multi-generational homes are endless but can include: 

  • Lowered costs on your mortgage and utilities
  • Increased care as medical and accessibility obstacles arise
  • Close familial bonds with one another
  • Shared responsibilities in the home, like childcare, chores and repairs
  • New Canadians can maintain their cultural norms

And that leaves you with three options: to build, to renovate or to build an addition

How to Accommodate Another Generation

Starting from Scratch 

If you have the space to start from scratch and build your own home, you can make decisions from the get-go that favours your lifestyle. A custom layout can accommodate two, three or more generations as needed. 

Renovate Your Existing Home 

Renovating your home is a great way to make room for a new family member. Your renovation can work with what you already have, look for creative ways to create more space and be more budget-friendly. 

However, depending on your needs this may restrict your options in terms of space and use of rooms. 

For instance: 

  • If you need more bedrooms: it can be easy to transition an extra bedroom into an office or movie room, but turning a windowless, closet-less room into a bedroom can prove to be more of a challenge. 
  • If you need more than one kitchen: depending on your zoning and bylaws, you may or may not be able to add in a second fully-functioning kitchen with a stove and oven. 
  • If you need to do away with a split-level floor plan: it may not be the most cost-effective way to make your home more accessible when you need to add ramps, wheelchair stairlifts or an elevator to move from floor to floor.
  • If you have more people moving in than your home allows for: expanding from a family of 2 to 5 or more can have implications on how your home functions for you — you may not have the space to add the extra bedrooms or bathrooms needed to accommodate everyone.

Extend Your Current Home  

Home additions are the middle ground of the two. If you have room on your existing property, you can extend your home up or out or add a separate unit above your garage, in your backyard or in your laneway. These can be more budget-conscious than a new build but will require a larger investment than a renovation. 

Where Your Second Generation Will Live

As you choose how you’ll tackle creating more space, you’ll need to consider where your newcomers will live. 

Ageing Parents

Mom and dad raised you, they built a family home for you and now that they’re in their golden years, they’re looking for your support and care. 

Accessibility is an important consideration, so ask yourself: 

How will they enter your home?

Entryways that consider their needs now and as they age are important. If they began using a wheelchair, could they make it up to your door and over the lip?

How will they make their way around the home?

Once they’re inside, think about how they’ll get to their bedroom, into the kitchen and the bathroom. A first-floor bedroom, ensuite bathroom and open-concept living room/kitchen are great ways to accommodate their needs.

What will they need access to in terms of amenities?

And finally, is everything easy to use? If they’re independent, they may want access to do their own laundry or perhaps they need a little more support with handrails and step-in tubs.

As you consider their basic accessibility needs, think about how they’ll use the space. Having their own living area within an inlaw suite might encourage them to relax outside of their room, it may also act as a buffer between their bedroom and your space for when they’d prefer quieter downtime. 

Adult Children

Adult children may remain in your home or move back in for a variety of reasons from recently graduating school, experiencing a divorce, to save on expenses or to help you maintain your home. To assist in their transition back to your home or into a more comfortable space, consider that privacy may be a big factor for them. 

A Private Space


This might mean the best solution is sectioning off a part of your home or building a separate unit for them. Their own separate entrance with a bedroom, kitchenette, living space and bathroom can help them feel the independence of living on their own without straying too far from home. 

Even if that means sharing a section of the home that houses laundry or additional amenities. 

Because they’re likely to be more nimble than ageing parents, a basement or over-garage space might accommodate them well. Your options for creativity might be a little broader since main-floor access won’t be as crucial.

Your Children and Grandchildren 

Raising children with the help of your family can remove a financial and childcare burden for young parents, but if it’s been years since you’ve had children live with you and you’re not used to having them in your home full time, it may be a bit of an adjustment. 

A Space for Toys & Play


Ensuring the children have their own spaces within your home will help the transition go more smoothly. A playroom, Jack-and-Jill bathrooms between bedrooms and additional storage can go a long way to making the space more functional. 

You can keep your home in order while their toys and activities take up residence in an area that doesn’t impede your lifestyle. 

Similar to adult children, they may also value their own space, so partitioning off a portion of your home may help them adjust as well. With young children, it can mean the difference of a good night’s sleep for you so you don’t hear them wake through the night and as they age, it allows them a space to call their own.

Designing Your Multi-Generational Home

Once you’ve landed on how you’ll accommodate extra family members by building, adding or renovating and identified your needs, you’re ready to start planning the design. 

Our team can help you build your design plans that address as many of your needs and wants as possible within your available space and budget.