The trend really started to gain momentum during the financial crisis of 2007, when families that had been living in separate houses could no longer keep up with their housing expenses separately, and found that living together was a viable option to help make ends meet. More and more we saw a demand for “dual living” homes, because as multi-generational families began living together, they found that they actually liked it! The demand wasn’t just from families tightening their budgets—it took on many forms, including adult children needing or wanting to have a less expensive, family-oriented alternative to care facilities for their aging parent(s); parents with special needs adult children who were looking for a separate living area to begin transitioning their child to independence; and parents whose children weren’t yet able to afford living on their own but needed more of an independent living situation. We've even seen these separate quarters being used for home-based businesses. I’ve personally seen all of these situations play out in friends’ lives, and have loved seeing the innovation and creativity that has been inspired, quite simply, by wanting the best for someone you care about.
Dual living properties can take on many configurations. The first and most obvious is a duplex, where each person/family occupies one of the units. The second is a “converted” space within a dwelling. These can be basements or space above a garage or shop that have been finished, and typically include a bathroom and a small kitchen. I’ve also seen living space separated from the rest of the house by including a sitting area, bedroom and bathroom, but no kitchen. Lastly, there are properties that have a totally separate living structure (usually termed “mother-in-law quarters”) on the same lot or parcel. When additional living spaces are created on a property, the newly created space is technically termed an Auxiliary Dwelling Unit (ADU), and usually needs to meet local building authority codes and specifications. ADU codes vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, so it’s important to consult the local building authority and obtain necessary permits (or make sure they were obtained by the current owner when purchasing a property with an ADU.)
Because they serve a growing need, dual living properties are here to stay. In order to keep up with the ever-changing real estate market, most Realtor Multiple Listing Service search engines now even have a separate searchable criteria for dual living. An ADU is something to consider when buying your next home—even if you don’t need it for a loved one right now, it can generate rental income to offset your mortgage payment until you do. As for me, it looks like we’ll eventually need to find a different property, because Mom has expressed concern over the lack of a bathroom in the shed. She grew up with a “honey bucket”, and has no desire to have life make a full circle.
Make it a great day!