My wife fondly remembers that when she was growing up, her Nan also lived in the same house as her. The extension to her family’s 3 bedroom semi provided another bedroom (which was converted to a small kitchen) and a bedsit room in which her Nan lived for many years. Back in the 1970s, the concept of a Granny Annex was quite unusual but it provided a great self contained environment for the elderly relative, within the safety and security of the family home.

Nowadays, this idea of multi-generational living is much more prevalent – with grown up children still occupying the family home alongside Mum & Dad and often grandparents too. According to The Aviva ‘How We Live’ Report a third of adults are living in a multi-generational household (i.e.where adults from different generations live together at the same address).

Of course in some cases, the situation has been as a result of Lockdown with some adult children returned home during lockdown, or households taking in an elderly relative to support them at this time. But this spike in figures reflects a picture that has emerged over the past generation – and looks here to stay. The report suggests that:

•A  third of UK households are multi-generational, mainly due to adult children living with parents

•Older relatives account for 14% of multi-generational set-ups – compared to 9% in 2016

•Lockdown accounts for only a small proportion of multi-generational arrangements

•A quarter of “granny flats” are designed for grown-up children

•A fifth of annexes / granny flats are being developed with lodgers in mind

•Granny flats are most popular in London: up to a fifth of homes have one or are planning conversions

The most common type of household in the multi-generational category is one where adult children are still living at home with parents, accounting for nearly two in five multi-generational homes. ‘Boomerang’ children – where grown-up offspring have returned to the family home after university or adult children living with their parents WHILE they study at university or college increases this even further.

However, there are also a considerable number of older relatives who live with their families, usually for health or financial reasons. According to Aviva’s report, 14% of all multi-generational households (1.28 million homes) fall into this bracket – and this is becoming more and more popular. It’s easy to understand why this type of set-up could grow further still.

Now with elderly parents of our own, my wife and I have considered this situation for our own Dads who now live alone and my Wife’s experience of having her Nan at home whilst growing up demonstrates that it can work really well.

How to adjust your Living Space

For most households, modifying the home to accommodate an older relative is done by either converting a garage, cellar or separate outbuildings. About 5% of households in the UK have this kind of modification already with a further 7% of householders say they have plans to develop this type of space. I

In some cases, having a separate front door provides that extra independence, but where this isn’t possible without a costly re-jig, for some families sharing the main entrance still works well. The same goes for bathrooms and kitchens. A perfect situation is where the annex or granny flat has its own bathroom and kitchen area making it completely self contained, especially if the person occupying this space is still able to look after themselves independently. And in the case of an annex to suit adult children, having their own bathroom and kitchen is a natural progression to them eventually flying the nest completely.


Adding Value?

Back in the 1970’s when my wife’s family moved to a larger property with the granny flat, the increase in price compared to the neighbouring, unmodified home was tiny, but nowadays that’s not the case. Having an additional annex could significantly increase the value of your home as it opens up all sorts of possibilities. Aside from using the additional accommodation for an adult relative, people approaching a time in their lives when they foresee this may decide that future proofing their home for this eventually is a shrewd move – and will pay accordingly. Even having plans drawn up for an extension or conversion can show would-be purchasers what’s possible and could add value to your home, even if you don’t have the work carried out.

And if the grown up kids or the elderly relative don’t want to stay, then an annex or flat can be put to other use. Many homeowners who those with plans to develop granny flats intend to rent them out as holiday lets, while some are thinking of taking in lodgers.

“ Lockdown changed the make-up of some households, as young people returned home from university and older people joined support bubbles.But the events of the past year aside, this kind of living arrangement makes a lot of sense – I certainly look forward to the time when my kids grow up and set up ‘home’ with me”