Innovative homes in Arizona offer space, privacy for multi-generational families

One Arizona home builder thinks they've found the perfect solution to creating a home designed to accommodate a family - and the grandparents.

95-year-old registered nurse Thelma Williams retired last year, and that same year she moved in with her daughter, Theresa.

"I would not be here today if I could. I’m physically unable now to work, but I would love to work," Thelma said. "I enjoy what I do. I’m a registered nurse. A psychiatric nurse and I enjoyed my work. I enjoyed being of service."

While Thelma may still want to be working and living on her own, she says her current situation is the next best thing. She credits that to their home.

"Total independence," Thelma laughed. "I can close the door and block them out. Lock them out."

Their home is called a Next Gen home, which is built by Lennar Homes. The company's goal is to keep families together with ease.

"When it comes to the comfort and the ability to have your own space and enjoy each other and still be comforted that in this particular situation, my mom is right here with me and I don’t have to worry about her," said Theresa, the daughter. "I can just walk down that hall and check in on her and make sure she’s OK."

Lennar started building this style of home in 2011. Today, it makes up about 25% of the homes built by the company here in the Phoenix metro area.

"The concept was to try and create a home where families can live together cohesively, benefit economically and still have their own space," said Alan Jones, Lennar division president.

Jones says he's seen a wide variety of people benefit from the concept.

There’s often times where a family, there’s a special needs child, or a son or daughter goes away to school and maybe they can’t get a job immediately," Jones said. "There’s a need for them to come back home, and most often what happens is it’s a parent that needs additional care."

From the exterior, one can't tell the difference between a normal residential home and a Next Gen home. Once inside, there's two complete homes under one roof.

"What builders will do is they will take a garage and turn it into a bedroom and bathroom," said Jones. "We didn’t do that. What we do is for your mother-in-law [for example]...we don’t put her in the garage, we make it so she has her own garage."

Some of the key features include separate entrances, bedrooms, bathrooms, living rooms, laundry rooms and kitchens. Plus, there's a connecting door that can lock from either side.

The independent personal space also extends into the outdoors.

"There’s a door to the side yard, and we’ve created a separate barbecue area to where the person who lives in the Next Gen suite has their own backyard separate from the main home," Jones said.

Soon, homes will have even more options. In their next development, Lennar will offer RV garages to the Next Gen model.

Prices vary based on upgrades and amenities, but the base model runs at around $550,000. Lennar currently has six developments under construction.

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