More Valley Home Buyers Looking for Multigenerational Living Space

By Angela Gonzales | Phoenix Business Journal

A tight housing supply during the coronavirus pandemic is causing home shoppers to look for more affordable ways to get parents, grandparents and grandchildren all together under one roof.

Building a casita in the backyard of an existing home is one way to go, but each city has its own sets of rules, codes and zoning restrictions that can be quite confusing for homeowners, said RL Brown, publisher of RL Brown Housing Reports.

“Homeowners associations would also be a major hurdle,” Jim Daniel, president of RL Brown Housing Reports, added.

Alan Jones, president of the Arizona division for Miami-based Lennar Corp., said these casitas, also known as mother-in-law homes, are called accessory dwelling units.

“If you build what they call an accessory dwelling unit, you could run up against the possibility of it becoming a duplex,” he said. “Your typical zoning for a single-family residence is one home per lot or home site. You have to be very careful about the process. Each municipality is going to treat it differently, where they might say you can have a bedroom and a little living area and maybe a small little fridge. But the idea of having full kitchens, if you do that, that’s really two homes on one lot and that doesn’t comply with zoning.”

Jones has figured a way to build a multigenerational home — a home being embraced by more municipalities.

Called Next Gen, this multigenerational living space allows adult children or grandparents to live in a smaller suite that features a full kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom — all connected to the family in the main house via an interior door. Each home site has one utility meter.

“It’s a fun puzzle to put together,” Jones said. “When you do it right, people love it.”

Sales during the coronavirus pandemic have been stronger than ever, he said.

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