From the NYT:
Tom and Kristin Moser’s new house — nearly 3,000 square feet in a development outside Tucson — has all the modern amenities, including solar panels and an open kitchen. But their house also has a feature that the builders are betting will be a hit, like the dog showers and craft rooms that beckoned during the boom. Tucked inside is a one-bedroom apartment with its own garage and a discrete entrance around the side.
The Mosers wanted the built-in apartment not to bring in a renter to help pay the mortgage, but rather as a home for Mr. Moser’s 82-year-old widowed father.
“More than weekly visits and phone calls, he really needs to be around family,” Mr. Moser, an investment manager, said of his father, Lee. “It’s the way he was raised. I think as a society it’s a way we have to step back into.”
In fact, architectural historians, statisticians and builders themselves are pointing out that the new household — and the house that can hold it — is much like the old household, the one that was cast aside after World War II by the building boom that focused on small, tidy dwellings for mom, dad and their two children.
Population statistics help tell the tale. A Pew study reports that 41 percent of adults between 25 and 29 are now living, or have lived recently, with their parents. Over all, more than 50 million Americans are in multigenerational households, a 10 percent increase from 2007. It is a back-to-the-future moment.
“You have to go back to the 1940s to see those kinds of numbers,” said Stephen Melman, director of economic services at the National Association of Home Builders. “What the recession has done has really hit household formation hard, so instead of forming households we are having some contractions: the college student moving back in or someone’s brother-in-law loses a job. It’s an opportunity for the builders.”
Wid Chapman, an architect and co-author of “Unassisted Living: Ageless Homes for Later Life,” said the 2010 census showed that the shift to the “nonlinear family” is part of an evolution that will be accelerated now that mainstream builders are responding to it.
“These so-called atypical households will be deliberately created and marketed in geographic locations that might have been the epicenter of the suburban classic nuclear family in the past,” he said.