Though Normandy Design Build Remodeling, in Chicago, was familiar with hosting seminars to educate clients and prospects about the remodeling process and had held aging-in-place seminars, it recently decided to explore the subject in a seminar about merging households.

The seminar was hosted by a designer for the company who is both experienced in and passionate about the topic — she lives with her mother in a multigenerational household.

The 10 attendees at the seminar ranged from people just starting to consider having parents move in with them to those who have already spent time researching the topic and have specific questions.

Though in most cases clients are thinking of having an elderly parent move in with them, in other instances it is the parent who is making room for a son or daughter and their family to move in, often due to financial difficulties.

“People are trying to figure out the right fit for their family,” Normandy’s director of marketing, Kristina Ferrigan, says. “Everyone has a different level of how much togetherness or separateness they want.”

The seminar addressed the range of options available, from a bed/bath addition to kitchenettes to full apartments with washer/dryer. Ferrigan says that selling one house usually provides the financing to remodel the other home for the merged household, which helps in a time of tight lending.

Ferrigan says that although the staff at Normandy is interested in the multigenerational topic, it is the clients who are slow to incorporate features into a remodel to prepare for a parent to move in. Through her research into health care at home, she has found that people tend to wait until there is a problem before dealing with it. This is in stark contrast to other projects, such as kitchens, where owners think about and discuss their project and mull over ideas for years before hiring a remodeler.

The company’s design staff does try to get clients to incorporate universal design features into their projects, or to at least prepare for the future by, for example, including framing for grab bars.

Ferrigan hopes that hosting seminars on the topic will keep Normandy Design Build Remodeling top of mind when clients actually have the need to merge households.

—Nina Patel is a senior editor at REMODELING. Find her on Twitter at @SilverNina or @RemodelingMag.

Learn more about aging in place and how to convert a Baby Boomers’ home into a place they can live in for years to come by visiting Home for Life.