DFW builders finding niche in multi-generational housing designs

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More and more builders across North Texas are starting to custom-design houses for families comprised of multiple generations.

"Multi-gen" homes are designed with a separate living space inside the structure, where a grandparent, adult child, or a child with special needs can live. 

"I'd say at least half my clients have a need for something like this. They may not go that route but when they're thinking about their parents' aging, it is a concern," Lisa Birdsong, longtime DFW realtor said.

D.R. Horton has been designing "multi-gen" homes for the last three years. The "home within a home" design has a bedroom, living area, kitchen, laundry, and bathroom. Amy Clasen works with the company and says a lot of families are pooling their money together in a competitive housing climate. 

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"You can afford a much better quality of life when a couple and maybe their older parents invest together," Clasen said. 

Clasen said people choose this style of housing for many reasons, ranging from post-college children with too much debt to buy a home, to aging parents who can't afford retirement communities. 

"Senior care can cost thousands a month, and a lot families simply can't afford that," Birdsong said. 

"Multi-gen" homes have always been popular in many Indian and Asian communities, where the culture promotes children taking care of their elders through life. 

"I think there is a lot we can learn from that family focus," Birdsong said. 

She says families outside those cultures are starting to catch on. In fact, in 2014 a Pew Research Center study said there were more Americans living in multi-generation homes than ever -- at a record 60.6 million.