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May 6, 2019

Multi-generational households drive renovation revolution



As reported in the Vancouver Sun, Janet Féirín has a home in East Vancouver. What she needs are options.

Her son Kris and his wife, Mandy, are ready to start a family, but like many wage earners in Greater Vancouver, their combined income isn’t going to get them a single-family home.

“I asked Kris what he wanted for Christmas and he said, ‘a house,’” recalled Féirín. “I made him a gingerbread house in the form of a laneway home and said here it is.”

Now she is making it real. In exchange for retaining the character elements of her 1912 home near Commercial Drive, Féirín has permission from the city to build a 1,000-square-foot infill home in her backyard where Kris and Mandy can live and raise children.

They are not alone. Builders say nearly every renovation client they meet wants to accommodate an extra generation — or two — on the property they already own.

Renovation has become a form of succession planning as people look for ways to help their adult children and to age in place.

Féirín’s main house will get some updates and fire-protection sprinklers installed and she will continue to live in the main living area. Downstairs is a two-bedroom revenue suite with seven-foot-high ceilings.

Under the City’s character home retention plan, one, two, or all three living units can be rented or sold as strata-titled dwellings.

Talk about options.

“I used to think I would downsize to the basement suite, but I can see myself living in the laneway home and the kids taking over the house eventually,” she said. “We will see how Kris and Mandy like the (infill) house when their kids are teenagers.”

For a half-century after the end of the Second World War, it was expected that each successive generation in a Canadian family could and would strike out on their own.

Not any more. Building permits for single-family homes have been in steep decline since 2004, by around 50 per cent, according to Statistics Canada.

Keep reading in the Vancouver Sun


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