A lot has been written lately about the rise of intergenerational households. In this country it is commonly presented as a growing problem, as it is caused at least in part by reduced retirement security and adult children who wait longer to leave the nest than in the past. As much of the rest of the world has demonstrated, however, there are plenty of reasons why it makes good sense to combine households. If you are in a position to join households with your in-laws, you will likely find that everyone benefits from the arrangement.
If you know it would be a good thing to cohabitate with the wiser generation, but want to hold on to the bliss of your own personal space, Accessory Dwelling Units are the way to go, and if you really want to do it right, make it a super-insulated airtight In-Law Flat. There are a number of reasons you’ll be glad you did.
1. It’s Nice To Get A Little Help
It’s not uncommon for grandparents to provide quite a bit of assistance when it comes to raising children, and studies have shown that being involved with children and grandchildren during their twilight years can go a long way towards improving their quality of life and preventing dementia. It’s great for children to have grandparents around to play with and learn from, and how wonderful would it be to have an extra pair of hands around when the proverbial diaper hits the fan? It’s a win-win-win situation for everyone involved, really. It will be much easier, in the event of a medical emergency, to help and care for parents if they already share your home. It could also be nice to have an extra set of hands for household projects, and there is a good chance that your in-laws possess expertise you do not that they’d be willing to pass down.
2. But We All Need Space
This is America, after all. We love our wide open spaces. If there are a lot of reasons why it makes sense to bring the ‘rents on board, there are just as many reasons that you need your home to yourself.
For example, everyone operates on a different morning schedule. What are you supposed to do when you wake up for your morning coffee only to be forcibly engaged in conversation about the weather? You can’t discuss anything until you’re at least one cup in, but explaining this will get you nowhere.
While we’re at it, let’s not forget about the kitchen. The forever embattled kitchen. Whose turn is it to do the dishes? Not yours, you’re sure of it. Somehow, everyone will think that they ALWAYS do the dishes, and we are not here to argue. The fact is that however much you want someone else to do the dishes, you will be very annoyed by however they choose to go about it. Your parents spent years doing your dishes – let them off the hook, and give them their own kitchen.
3. Save The Trip To Florida
Your mother-in-law is always cold. What gives it away? She’s wearing three sweaters and a hat, huddled under a blanket in your living room pretending she’s fine but managing to evoke without words a terrible guilt in your heart for freezing the poor lady to death. The truth is that her house is cold too, because your Father-in-law is constantly turning down the thermostat.
Imagine that they live just a few yards away in a compact dwelling that is so well tuned to the demands of winter that it always feels warm. She can take a few short steps to her own home, shed the layers, and sit down to her knitting or her crossword puzzle next to a bright and sunny window where no draft penetrates, with a wide sill large enough for her ancient Christmas cactus to live comfortably, you know, the one she inherited from her grandmother. You might, in time, find it difficult to lure her out into to the biting cold to make the journey to your corner of the property. Indeed, she may start inviting you over to her house – it’s warmer than yours, and she’ll bake you cookies. It’ll be like coming home from college.
“Ah,” You say, “but what will stop dad from turning the thermostat down in the new home? “
Nothing. He can turn it down as far as he wants, but he can’t force hot air to leave that house any faster. It’ll be days before she notices what he’s done, especially if the sun comes out to shine some free heat through the triple glazed windows. In the interim, there will be no arguments about the thermostat.
4. Thick Walls Bring Sweet, Sweet Silence
You may have noticed over the years that you have found yourself repeating phrases to your father more and more often, a gradual increase that seemed innocent enough until you found yourself yelling at the top of your lungs, “YOUR APPOINTMENT IS ON THURSDAY. APP-OINT-MENT. THURRRSDAAAAAAY.” This is a small price to pay for the joy of human connection and familial bonds, but the sound of M.A.S.H. playing at a volume that vibrates framed photos of grandkids off the mantelpiece will get old, eventually.
On the flip side, let’s not pretend that after all they have accomplished in their lives, your in-laws are eager to settle down to a relaxing retirement of shrieking toddlers, punk rock music, and the constant growl of a blender churning out organic green smoothies.
Fortunately, the quaint cottage they inhabit is way better than cramming themselves into the spare corners of your home. As previously discussed, they will be more comfortable, have more freedom to decorate according to their own stylistic whims, and they won’t be picking up after you, which will do wonders for the ol’ hip. Best of all, the thick and densely insulated walls of the accessory unit will do a great job of ensuring that the only racket anyone has to listen to is their own.
5. Fiscal Responsibility Makes Dad (and Mom) Proud
Setting up an accessory dwelling unit for your in-laws is a great fiscal choice in terms of household management, but as with all things, you will need to convince your father-in-law of this, and as it is sometimes difficult to place a monetary value on creature comforts like warmth, fresh air, and sanity, it may be that your argument doesn’t quite conform to his spreadsheet of expenditures and compounding interest. That’s okay, because next to his sleek white Tesla Powerwall is a power monitoring readout. If you can’t assign a dollar value to the psychological benefit of ample daylight, you certainly can price out a Kilowatt. Even better, he can watch those dollars as they are sucked from thin air into the battery, and then log in online and see a bar graph of how the home is performing. He can view the information by day, month or year. He can probably export a spreadsheet and bring it to dinner on Sunday night, and explain to you how it all works.
As you can see, there’s no downside. BrightBuilt Home’s In-Law-Flat is efficiently designed and obsessively detailed for maximum performance. Give us a call, and let’s make this happen!