Have you ever heard the term “multi-generational household”? Chances are that you have. According to Canadian census data gathered just 2 years ago, households that include at least three generations from the same family are the fastest-growing type of household in the country.

Indeed, many middle-agers have become members of “the sandwich generation”; that is, they have both their adult children and their elderly parents living with them. Others are only half a sandwich, so to speak, having one or the other as housemates but still sharing a home that they probably thought was going to be theirs alone.

The decision to be a multi-generational household doesn’t always stem from difficulties. It’s not always because the adult son is out of work or because 75-year-old mom can’t live on her own. Some families actually opt for multi-generational living to reap the benefits of factors such as a shared mortgage and utilities. And as the cost of living rises in Canada, other families simply see it as the smart thing to do.

But how do you take a home made for one family and change it to accommodate two or more? What kind of home renovation should you consider to make your current house work before you decide it’s necessary to move? What do you have to do to protect each family unit’s privacy and what kind of changes should be made for the elderly or for the very young?

Some real estate developers are re-thinking their new builds in order to accommodate multi-generational living, but builders are also helping scores of Canadians remodel or renovate their existing homes to make them more amenable to sharing.

There’s a lot to consider if you’re opting for a home renovation that will make your house more comfortable for two or more generations, but there are a few good places to start that might help you get off on the right foot, and Reid Developers can help you with these and more as you launch into your renovation project.

Build an Addition

Quite obviously, this is the easiest way to make more space in your home for your adult children and their family or for your parents. Of course, it isn’t possible for everyone as it demands that you have the space for more house. However, if you can do it, it will provide the ultimate in privacy for those living together. Additions can include a small kitchen, living area, bedroom, bathroom, and the space might even have a separate entrance.

When considering an addition, it’s a good idea to think about what the space could be if the multi-generational living arrangement ceases somewhere down the road. For example, you might design it so that it could be a functional office or perhaps an art or music studio later on.

Finish your Basement

Finishing a basement to create more space is certainly a cost-effective way to “add on” to your home without making major structural changes. You can include both a bedroom and full bathroom in your plans as well as some additional living space. Your builder can inform you as to building codes that might pertain to this type of home renovation, as you may need to include a door to the outside.

And, again, when it’s not being used to house more family members, it can function as extra entertainment space or room for short-term guests.

Integrate design elements for all ages

There are also a number of other fixes or adjustments you can ask a builder to make in your existing home in order to accommodate different ages, especially older relatives. For example, it might be necessary to widen doorways to accommodate wheelchairs, walkers, or scooters. You may need to adjust faucets as well as door knobs and handles so that they are easier to operate for those with arthritis, for example.

If you’re expecting little ones, you might need to convert that bathroom with the stall shower to one with a bathtub or make other adjustments to keep tiny hands out of places where they shouldn’t be.


With 2.2 million Canadians currently living in multi-generational dwellings, it’s obvious that this lifestyle is one that will continue to grow. At Reid Developments, we’re one step ahead of the game. We’ve recognized this trend and can offer you home renovations plans and ideas that will help you accommodate your extended family. Or if you’re ready to build something new, we can get the ball rolling on that as well. Just give us a call for more details.