Will multigenerational living work for you?

If you’re thinking about establishing a multi-generational home, you will probably be asking yourself if this is a good decision.

Lagois Design-Build-Renovate has created many happy spaces for families: separate dwellings on the same property, additions, and expanded or re-designed areas. All are good solutions for generations living in the same home or on the same property.

However, before you decide on any of these options, you’ll need to consider all the aspects – legal, functional, emotional, physical – carefully.

There are wonderful stories about families bonding together, sharing household duties, child and elder care, and being able to live in a style and comfort they might not otherwise afford. When it’s a sensible lifestyle for families, professional renovation and architectural design can create a happy, productive life-changing solution.

We have also seen families who tried it and realized it just wasn’t right for them. The closeness was too close, personalities clashed, and they needed their independence from each other. When the experience of multi-generational living turns out badly, it can have a difficult, painful, even long-lasting impact. For that reason alone, it’s not something you should decide on quickly.

If you are considering a “multigenerational” option, you will need to ask some difficult questions. We suggest you take notes, make lists, and share them with everyone in the family.


First, what about the law? (Hint: this is why you need professional local renovators like Lagois Design-Build-Renovate to answer these questions, get permits, and make sure everything is done correctly.)

For example:

  • Can you make major home improvements in compliance to local bylaws?
  • Can such a renovation be done within setback restrictions?
  • If you’d like to have a detached structure on the same property, is it allowed?
  • What about multiple dwelling units?
  • What about building code compliance, like fire ratings and energy performance?
  • Besides local bylaws, are there specific requirements by conservation authorities (like distances to rivers, lakes, and wetlands)?
  • If you have a rural property, are there specific septic requirements (size and clearances to structures)?

Emotions and lifestyle

Then there are the emotional, questions, and these can sometimes be the toughest. But they’re absolutely critical.

  • Can you live together? What are your personalities, your individual temperaments? How, and how often, do you currently interact? How do you handle crises together? What about the individual physical, mental, emotional needs of each member?
  • How do you feel about privacy? Do you want to share kitchen spaces? Bathrooms? Living and dining areas? Outdoor living? Entrances? What about entertaining? Do you want to do this as a whole family with everyone included, or would you prefer a separate area? How does everyone feel about noise – the noise of children, music, conversation, kitchen clatter? How about pets, and what sort of pets? If there are pets, who will be responsible for them?
  • What about the future? How do you envision changes as people age or get sick; as children get bigger and have completely different needs; if there is conflict among spouses or teens; when children grow up and leave? Will your home be too big then, or will you want the flexibility of changing the space to accommodate returning children and new grandchildren? This is where serious design comes in – something we know well. Lagois Design-Build- Renovate is masterful at seeing into the future when it comes to designing for flexibility and change.


Before any renovations or improvements, we always look at the potential impact to your existing home. These are some of the things we will determine and discuss with you:

  • Are the existing electrical and mechanical systems in your home adequate?
  • Are different climate zones required?
  • Do you have any allergies or light sensitivities?
  • Is one-level living critical?

We’re listening

You will need to ask questions of us, too. Do we have a holistic understanding of your family, your needs, your vision for the future? Are we answering your questions to your satisfaction? Are all appropriate family members part of the process?

We hope all these questions (yes, so many!) will help you decide whether multigenerational living is for you.

If it is, we’re here to help you to love where you live – together.