Author Topic: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?  (Read 2253 times)

KisKis

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Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« on: May 06, 2016, 11:24:09 AM »
Would you do it?  DH and I (two kids) and his sister's family (one kid, with maximum of two more planned) are seriously thinking about building a house together across the street from my in-laws.  My in-laws have been FIREd for almost 10 years, and currently provide childcare for the three grandkids.  Both our households are solidly high-middle income for our area, so we can afford building a pretty good-sized home together, and we both already own our own paid-off homes.  They are in their late 20s and we are in our early 30s.  Our current rough draft for a floor plan is at 6,000 SF.  My in-laws own the lot and will pass it on to us as long as we do a fair buyout of DH's other sibling who lives out-of-state.  He has no interest and has said that money is not expected but would be accepted as a nice windfall.

We have been talking about this pretty heavily for the past few months, and know that we will need to draw up a written agreement in case of divorce, or if one family wants to leave, utilities, how to handle disputes, etc.  We have spoken seriously about our expectations for cleanliness, use of utilities (heating/cooling), sharing of food, personal space, and there have been no deal breakers so far.  The good thing is that we are all open, logical, and forthright about everything, so I don't see any passive aggressiveness, hurt feelings, or slow building of rage happening.  We already see each other almost every day, spend vacations together, and help each other out with kids.  Being in the same house would just make things so freaking convenient.

Still, in America, it seems like a crazy idea.  Wondering what the mustachian take is on this.  Bad idea or smart economies of scale?

elaine amj

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #1 on: May 06, 2016, 12:26:17 PM »
What about building a duplex? Have the basic separate stuff on both sides (sharing kitchens are usually the hardest part). The entry points between the two houses can be designed in such a way that if necessary, a drywall partition can easily be added in the future (if one family wants to move, etc). Would help with resale value too. You don't have to use both kitchens/all the bathrooms, but you might find it come in useful.

My aunts did this (both were single and lived alone). They bought a side by side duplex. There is an opening in the kitchen area and front yard and backyard are shared. When one throws a party, they use both sides and the whole outdoor area.

I thought that was brilliant and have had visions of doing something similar (my mom occasionally talks about doing some kind of shared housing).

KisKis

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #2 on: May 06, 2016, 02:08:15 PM »
What about building a duplex?

Our original plan was a full family compound, but that is not financially feasible in the way we envisioned.  We did consider a duplex, but the lot we own is not zoned for multi-family dwellings.  I did check with our City's Building Department and what we are currently planning is perfectly fine.  Really, we could have a duplex as long as we left a cutout between the two units. I was told that as long as there is not a firewall separating two completely separate living spaces, then it counts as a single family residence.  The reason why we are leaning towards shared common spaces is that we are all suckers for the big open floor plan/great room/cathedral ceiling look, and a gourmet kitchen is immensely appealing as opposed to two smaller regular kitchens.  We have the two master suites on separate sides of the house with a large mudroom/laundry, pantry, office/crafts room, open kitchen/living/dining space and a large deck.  We are thinking five bedrooms upstairs for the kids or any guests, a playroom, and a gym.  It's pretty deluxe.  We are going to schedule a sit-down with a builder and/or engineer in the next month to see if our plans fit our budget.  After some informal input from friends in the local construction industry, I am budgeting $200/SF (to include the recommended 10% cushion) with high hopes that we can come in under that since we live in a low cost of living area. 

DH and his sister are really the chefs in the family, and they love cooking together.  Me and my brother-in-law would be at work most of the time.  Both our families like to cook big meals on the weekend and just reheat leftovers or make sandwiches the rest of the week.  We'd maybe do communal meals on the weekends, but our weekday schedules are pretty staggered so all four of us wouldn't have much overlap.  The majority of my time would be in my own suite, outside, or upstairs with the kids.           

Cassie

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #3 on: May 06, 2016, 03:38:00 PM »
To make this work you would all have to agree to some house rules. Families can and do live together and if you get along well it will work but if there is conflict about child raising etc then it won't. My grandparents lived with us for number of years and it went very smooth. None of the adults ever had any conflict and as kids we were so happy to have them around.

smoghat

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #4 on: May 06, 2016, 09:08:32 PM »
I was for it until I found out you can't have a multi-family home in which you could rent out half.

How will you ever sell it? Who will buy it? If you can answer those questions then maybe it's worth going with.

ptgearguy

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2016, 03:22:44 PM »
Im buying a house with my brother. However, I am single and he has his wife and two kids. We have lived together in the past and all get along. We also work together and are able to argue and fight about stuff without getting butt hurt. In my opinion if you have never been able to work out a dispute, I probably would not go ahead. Some people cannot fight and will bottle up emotions until it is too late.

Pigeon

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2016, 07:24:51 PM »
I agree it's not going to be a good idea for resale.

As far as the logistics, I would only do it as two units.   It sounds like you would be OK in terms of the ordinance if there was a connecting door inside.   There is no way in hell I would share communal living space like that.  I like my privacy and some peace.  My own teenagers and their friends can be enough to handle, I would not want to live with someone else's.

asiljoy

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #7 on: May 07, 2016, 07:58:41 PM »
 There's a world of difference between spending vacations and dinners together and living together. There's a reason for why they say turning a friend into a roommate is the quickest way to lose a friend.

Cyaphas

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #8 on: May 07, 2016, 10:46:40 PM »
I've lived in several types of these situations and am currently living in one. I really like it. I don't like being alone and I really like having other adults to spend time with and I don't have to leave the house to do so.

Make sure that every adult has the authority to punish/reprimand a child how they see fit. Make sure there will be no public challenge/questioning from another adult. Just like parents the adults all have to be on the same team. If one of the other adults living in the house doesn't follow these rules it's going to wreak havoc on all of the kids behavior.

Utilities: I'd split them evenly among every person in the house. They have 2 kids and you have 1, they pay 4/7's you pay 3/7's.

Get ready for a lot of compromise. You have 4 adults and 1 house. What happens when the kids become teenagers?

You could always try to do some testing on how well everyone does in the same house. Realizing your current homes are significantly smaller, try staying under 1 roof for a week or two together. You will run into issues but are the issues because of space or are they huge ideal differences in child rearing, politics, religion?

KisKis

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #9 on: May 08, 2016, 12:36:59 PM »
All good comments from everyone.  Thanks.  I agree that the house may not be ideal for resale, but we are hoping this will be a forever home.  Still, I think we will be able to sell a luxurious waterfront home with two masters if it becomes necessary.  We may not make a huge profit, but we'd be okay with that.

You could always try to do some testing on how well everyone does in the same house. Realizing your current homes are significantly smaller, try staying under 1 roof for a week or two together. You will run into issues but are the issues because of space or are they huge ideal differences in child rearing, politics, religion?

Yes, we have spent extended time living together often over the past decade, sometimes for a month or more at a time.  They've spent entire summers with us before they got married, bought a house, and had a kid.  We usually spend weekends staying at one of our houses or at the in-laws.  Like asiljoy mentioned, I know there is a big difference between vacationing together and permanently living together, but there is just no way to be sure until it happens.  No major ideal differences in diets, exercise, children, politics, or religion.  The other couple is slightly more church-inclined while DH and I are pretty much atheist-leaning agnostics, but that wouldn't affect us at all.  SIL and I have discussed it before.  She likes the family values and social benefits of church, but doesn't truly believe the actual religion any more.  I have nothing against church, and don't mind if our kids attend with friends or other family.  I think exposure to different beliefs is important.  None of us are political.  We're all very supportive of free thought.  We are considering living together at my in-laws while we put our houses on the market and temporarily rent them out for extra income, so that may be an even better test. 

Teenagers are an interesting consideration.  I am sure there will be difficulty there regardless of where we are living.  A consideration of living together is that we want our children to grow up closely with each other.  It is also helpful to have the extra eyes.  All of us are hands off parents but we have no problem disciplining by taking away computers, junk food snacks, and parenting lectures.  We are all on the same page on that.  There will be no brats in this household if we can help it. 

« Last Edit: May 08, 2016, 12:44:38 PM by KisKis »

Spitfire

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #10 on: May 09, 2016, 08:26:07 AM »
As far as selling considerations go, is it in a high-end area? It could be sold as a McMansion to someone if it's a nice house in a great area. The volume of buyers will be lower than a standard house but it would not be impossible to sell.

KisKis

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 09:48:39 AM »
As far as selling considerations go, is it in a high-end area? It could be sold as a McMansion to someone if it's a nice house in a great area. The volume of buyers will be lower than a standard house but it would not be impossible to sell.

It's a coastal resort community with a (relatively) desirable school district.  Our lot is located in a residential neighborhood away from the short term vacation rentals.  I agree that the volume of buyers will be lower, as with all luxury homes, but hopefully it wouldn't be impossible to sell, especially if we were not unreasonable about the listing price. 

KCM5

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Re: Multi-family Home - Stupid or Smart?
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2016, 10:16:48 AM »
You're planning on building a $1.2 million dollar house? High middle income, huh ;) Just embrace it - call yourselves high income!

But really, this is the sort of thing that is extravagant and you know it. That doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Just know you're building a huge, fancy house that may or may not sell for what you have it in. If everything goes wrong, can either family afford the house by themselves? Do you have a fallback agreement for if things fall apart?

Regarding the living with another family - if you get along well, and it sounds like you've tested things quite a bit - then that sounds like something I would totally do. I love the idea of living with close friends or family.