Multi-generational housing is making a significant comeback throughout California and the United States. When picturing such a living arrangement, it’s easy to imagine different generations living under one roof. However, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) show this needn’t be the case.

This article examines what are commonly known as in-law suites and their numerous advantages to multi-generational families. We also discuss the different types of units and what to consider when designing and building your perfect ADU.

Multi-Generational Living Continues to Increase in Popularity

multi-generational family

Multi-generational living has grown steadily in the U.S. since the 1970s. While single-family homes remain typical in the American housing landscape, multi-generation households are rising significantly. This trend is happening everywhere, including here in California.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, ‘the share of the U.S. population in multi-generational homes has more than doubled, from 7% in 1971 to 18% in 2021.’ (source)

Several reasons are driving this growth. Approximately 40% of those surveyed said financial reasons were key. For 28%, multi-generational living is a continuation of familial traditions. Another 25% are drawn to this arrangement because they need to care for a family member, while 12% seek the mutual benefit of shared childcare responsibilities.

The findings highlight a multifaceted appeal to multi-generational living across all sections of American society.

What are the Benefits of Using an ADU for Multi-Generational Living?

Grandmother and Granddaughter reading a book together

ADUs offer several great benefits for modern families seeking to live together while maintaining a certain amount of independence and privacy.

They support family caretaking needs. Elderly family members can live on the property, close to their children and grandchildren, while receiving necessary care and companionship. Younger generations also benefit from the wisdom and guidance of their elders.

Overall, family bonds are also strengthened. There’s increased interaction and shared experiences among all family members of every generation. Everyone can sit together to mark anniversaries and celebrations and simply enjoy daily meals. These little everyday encounters enrich family connections and memories.

ADUs can also help with family finances. Multi-generational living enables the distribution of mortgage payments, utility bills, and maintenance costs among more household members, making it a cost-effective option for everyone.

Living in an ADU can also benefit adult children who want to save money and enjoy more affordable rent than the market rate. They can save money for education or a mortgage while contributing to the household in other ways and still enjoying some semblance of independence.

Childcare also becomes more accessible and flexible with older generations living just a few feet away. Grandparents and extended family members can help alleviate the costs and stress associated with affordable and quality childcare services, especially in emergencies.

Accessory dwelling units also foster closeness while simultaneously providing privacy and space. Each unit can have its own living area, kitchen, and entrance. This dynamic helps maintain healthy family relationships.

Finally, ADUs also contribute to a more sustainable living model. Land use is optimized, and resources are shared, making more efficient use of residential areas, which in turn minimizes one’s environmental footprint.

Types of ADUs

ADU Garage Conversion in Capitola, CA

There are several different types of Accessory Dwelling Units, each providing unique benefits for homeowners depending on needs, space, existing property design, and regulations.

Detached ADUs are standalone structures built on the same property as the main home but completely separate. They offer the greatest degree of independence and privacy, being completely self-contained with their own entrance and facilities.

Conversion ADUs are a type of unit that is repurposed from an existing space within your family home and turned into independent living quarters. Ideal spaces for this transformation include attics, basements, and garages, and they are an affordable way to make use of underutilized areas.

Attached/Bump-Out ADUs are expansions of your existing home. The units are typically built either to the side or the back of the house, with the exterior wall knocked through to create a large interior space. Perfect for converting the role of one room to another through increasing its floor space.

Junior ADUs (JADUs) are compact living spaces that cannot exceed 500 square feet. This micro-unit must have its own kitchen and separate entrance but can share bathroom facilities with the main house. JADUs are typically built within an existing interior space.

New Zoning Laws and Rules in California Make ADUs a Viable Option for Multi-Generational Living

woman reading about zoning laws in CA

California’s commitment to easing the housing crisis has seen updated zoning laws and rules designed to make the construction of Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs) easier for homeowners.

These changes are part of a broader effort to address the state’s housing shortage, improve affordability, and afford families more flexibility when it comes to multi-generational living options.

There have been several crucial updates to California’s ADU legislation recently.

Law AB 1033 is a significant piece of legislation allowing property owners in participating cities to construct an ADU on their property and sell it separately, in a similar setup to condominium ownership.

Assembly Bill 2221 requires all agencies involved with reviewing California ADU plans – including planning departments and utility companies – to respond within 60 days of submission of plans. Application review and processing time is, therefore, faster.

California law states that if a proposed ADU is less than 800 sq. ft., the front setback requirement can no longer prevent it from being built. This replaces the old rule, under which setbacks were reduced to four-foot side and rear yards.

Senate Bill 897 also made things much smoother for homeowners by removing the need to upgrade unpermitted structures to current codes unless they pose health or safety risks.

Furthermore, attached JADUs no longer need a dedicated bathroom if one is accessible in the main home, and demolition permits cannot be withheld once an ADU permit is issued.

Financial assistance is also available to eligible homeowners via the establishment of the California ADU Fund, which essentially streamlines and encourages ADU projects.

Why Choose Talmadge Construction for Your Multi-Generational ADU

Choosing Talmadge Construction to design and build your multi-generational ADU ensures a seamless and comprehensive service from beginning to end. We’re a seasoned design-build firm based in Aptos that serves homeowners throughout Santa Cruz County.

We use our proven 5-step design-build process that guides you through the entire ADU design and construction process, from the initial planning stage right through to post-construction support. Our friendly and experienced in-house team guarantees a transparent and collaborative journey, so you achieve a project that benefits your entire family.

Talmadge Family

Design-Build Remodeling Firm in Aptos, Santa Cruz County

At Talmadge Construction in Aptos, we are dedicated to preserving coastal homes and carrying out expert remodeling to fit families’ lifestyle changes. We’ve been doing so for nearly 40 years and would love to help you as well.

As a community-focused design-build firm passionate about eco-friendly design and local education, we are committed to exceptional customer service, quality workmanship, and complete integrity. Are you looking to remodel or extend your coastal property? Add an ADU? We’ll be with you every step of the way.

Here at Talmadge, we place our reputation for integrity at the center of everything we do, advocating for homeowners because they deserve a remodel that makes life easier. Recognizing that Santa Cruz County homeowners are our neighbors and fellow business owners, we place equal importance on contributing to the community’s growth, including being a strong supporter of education. We firmly believe that improving people’s lives at home and through education translates to better societies.

When you remodel with Talmadge, you directly support education in the local community. Read our mission.

To arrange a free consultation with one of our friendly team, call us today at 831.689.9133.

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