Simply put, they are becoming busier as we remind ourselves how sharing the load makes life easier. Look at the article below. Hopefully the design of the home is flexible enough to meet our changing needs....
One in four Australian adult children move back home, new data shows
Domain: by Tawar Razaghi May 19, 2020
To put it simply, there is confusion between the building code, planning scheme and some local councils about the risk and impact of the installation of a second kitchen and/or a separate of living quarters. Even though there are examples of single leveled multi-generational homes, (and the numbers are increasing), these are on typically large lots located in the outer suburbs. Unfortunately there is unexplained resistance to multi storied varieties which will increasingly be relevant in an urbanising city not just here in Melbourne but in many other developing cities.
It couldn't be summed up any better than the owner of a Washington (USA) building company (Quail Homes). “Quite frankly, the rules are outdated for today’s society.”
The wall street article explains just how familiar the issues are here as they are in the North America as they too search for solutions to a growing shift in how we live
Hurdles to Multigenerational Living: Kitchens and Visible Second Entrances (A Wall Street Journal Article)
So, why does a housing system, which claims to assist in finding affordable and community focused solutions, struggling with the Multi Generational housing concept?
As living cost are forever increasing, we all need to make better use of our resources without compromising our lifestyle. When we design our homes, we often forget how our family structure changes over time and how our homes need to be able to adjust to accommodate various family dynamics, or even for unforeseen events.
Homes should be designed to primarily improve our lives and reduce stress. This is best achieved if they are able to quickly adapt to create living environments that best suit the inhabitants needs regardless of their stage of life. Whether that be by creating accessible living spaces for those with disabilities, providing family independence or improved utilisation of your major asset. All these elements should be considered at the start when looking at the design of a long term family home.
Adaptive design principals are at the core of multi-generational homes and through this website I intend to outline the significant benefit this approach will have on both your household and the community at large.
Would you consider it if:
Living with your parents or in-laws might be enough to send shivers down the spine, however the increasing pressures caused by time scarcity and the cost of living is only likely to get worse. Add the increasing responsibility of taking care of our aging population in a failed aged care system and it is not hard to see there are going to be some real challenges we need to face and design solutions for.
There are solutions, if only we were willing to give them a try and you take the issues into account as you design the solution.
[Article originally written in Nov 2018. Now with minor references to COVID]
Did you know that you were once fined by the authorities if you had a water tank in your backyard?
If buying a house was not challenging enough, to live affordably is a whole different ball game. Our cities and communities are increasingly under stress partly as a consequence of our own success, but mainly from the acceleration of demographic shifts and population growth. There are more of us with increasing needs that are attempted to be delivered by a decreasing pool of resources. We need to think smarter and differently to meet these challenges.
Many of us have difficulties in finding affordable child care spaces, paying for quality aged care services and reducing energy bills. On a broader level, bureaucrats are searching for an equitable approach to delivering disability services while social planners are struggling to halt a mental health epidemic that is increasingly being linked to loneliness. [Now we need to deal with COVID19!]
These are not necessarily new problems; however, the issues are now overlapping and multiplying the sense of overwhelm, making it difficult to find a solution to one issue without affecting others.
Our urban environment has changed, and as technology and global urbanisation speed up, we cannot remain stationary. Applying existing controls to this changed urban context will stymie our ability to adapt and provide us with substandard options. Do you remember what it was like riding a taxi before Uber came to town?
We should be encouraged to work towards a range of useful options that collectively start making inroads in some of the pressures and stresses of urbanisation. Unfortunately, the sensitivity behind housing and the protective nature of regulators is discouraging the necessary innovation which can deliver positive change. Just like other industries that were asleep at the wheel, change in this space is inevitable and will be dramatic as the need for a different approach becomes more urgent. [As COVID has only highlighted to well when it comes to home care for children and our elderly]. Where the need is the greatest, or more viable solutions are technological available, others will enter the landscape and begin to force the change of the rules just as uber did to the taxi market.
How long will it take for regulators to understand that the status quo needs to shift? If we needed a drought to force us to sensibly reverse water tank rules, what will it take for regulators to examine new housing approaches? The Royal Commission into aged care? The housing affordability crisis? [The clarity of our urban issues as being made more clearly by COVID19].
I really hope we are better than that.
When I share with friends my idea that housing affordability advocates could learn a lot from the AFLX, they often give me this look that makes me wonder if they think I chewed on batteries as a kid. Sure, it’s a long bow to draw a relationship between the AFL and housing, but in actuality, advocates from both groups are trying desperately to increase audience accessibility via the same strategy - both are seeking to gain increased access to affordable land within areas of high amenity. After all, the smaller the land lot, the more affordable it is.
For those not familiar with the AFLX, it is simply an experimental version of the AFL game with one key difference: new rules allow it to be played on smaller rectangular shaped pitches, which of course are globally more common than the larger AFL ground.
The search to access smaller land lots is however where the similarities between the AFL and affordable housing end and the lessons begin in doing things differently. The first of which is the AFL’s appetite and commitment to experimentation.
Reasons to experiment are endless and the rationale for doing so is harder to support when failure or a crisis is not present. In housing, there is increasing recognition there is market failure in the supply of affordable housing, providing no shortage of reasoning to look for creative solutions via experimentation. Whereas with the AFL, it’s the polar-opposite as it seeks to radically redesign the currently most successful sporting code in Australia.
So why would you experiment so early? There are many examples that highlight the consequences if you do not. Blockbuster and Kodak are just two where the combination of complacency, arrogance and a lack of foresight found them asleep at the wheel. When they finally realised their failures, the change needed to pivot was just too great. This reinforces the need to continuously question and challenge the value you currently offer and how this may diminish in an ever-changing and expanding future. Where the failure in these private organisations generally only impacts the organisation itself, it is not the same in public institutions where no natural and direct competitors exist. In this case, a failure to adapt unfortunately and adversely effects those it was meant to serve, rather than the administrators that run them. The AFL presents a live case study where early and continuous experimentation is an attempt to either protect or increase its relevance as it navigates through the challenges it predicts, are on the horizon. Which brings me neatly to my second key lesson the AFL offers affordable housing advocates: foresight.
Of course, foresight is only appreciated after an event has occurred. Yet, its beginnings are nothing more than an educated guess. Who in 19th century would have predicted that a brutal game in Sheffield, (known originally as football only because it wasn’t played on horseback), would become the sporting phenomenon we know today? Soccer’s period of popularity is relatively minimal in human history terms and even though it's not under immediate threat, there is no certainty that it will maintain its superiority in the decades to come. This is particularly pertinent to the plight facing the NFL. As American Football’s popularity is under serious threat due to the increasing scrutiny over the irreparable brain damage it causes, there is now an opportunity, as well as a perceived threat, that if the AFL doesn’t act, it will lose access to a new and significant audience base. What is the most direct and perhaps bullish way to capture this audience? Make it as easily accessible by bringing an alternative game to the thousand of smaller rectangular shaped fields that are scattered throughout all the major cities. Enter the AFLX.
As for affordable housing, somewhere along the way we lost its social value and instead directed our energies into transforming homes into primary wealth generating assets. Future generations may very well look back and rightly say it was obvious to see the events (or lack thereof) where housing tenure increasingly became out of reach for so many. Previous leaders lacked the foresight and the courage to experiment and find alternative answers on how to sensibly disrupt an investment addiction to residential property. Equally when it came to town planning, the same leaders too readily succumbed to local political forces that were more interested in their own municipality than that of the broader community-based ecosystem it sits within.
While a football game is not directly comparable to a home, there are many that believe they have an intrinsic right an own both. The AFL should be commended for their willingness to be vulnerable in their pursuit of pushing the boundaries, or rather in this case, pulling them in. They are seemingly doing this without fear of criticism from the public as they back their judgement and experiment in finding how they will be remain relevant in the decades to come.
What would be the one experiment you believe, should be affordable housings equivalent of the AFLX?
Quality Space or A Purple Shagpile?
Do you remember your first bedroom? I was lucky enough to have one to myself and I remember the sanctuary that space provided from the outside world that I was only starting to comprehend. The extent of that world wasn’t known to me back then, but I was intimately familiar with my bedroom space.
Outside that imaginary drawbridge of the bedroom, my senses needed to be on full alert as I navigated and stumbled my way through boring and torturous social norms just to have more fun. Often, my idea of fun was rarely shared by my parents and I have no doubt that I pushed as many of their buttons as Donald Trump does with the Democrats. In any case, whether exhausted, frustrated or battered and bruised, I had the luxury of being able to return to my sanctuary believing for even just a little while that when that drawbridge was up, I was truly the master of my own world.
As the years passed, I learnt the more I pushed the boundaries, the more I would hear those favourite parenting words, "my roof, my rules"! So, the answer to that was simple - find a different roof. Thus, began my life as a roofer…no, not really but just imagine if I did…what a story?! I did leave the house soon after my 20th year and reacquainted myself with my earlier theory of the meaning of life: "to have fun"! During those early years I took the guise of a scientist, endlessly experimenting in my exploration of different neighbourhoods. Here started a journey that would eventually lead me to living within 14 different suburbs of Melbourne. Each one with a unique drawbridge and sanctuary of its own.
At first it wasn’t so evident but when you consistently change something for long enough, you start to see patterns in how different places and spaces impact your psyche. There are places I could not wait to get back to and others that were so energy sapping that on occasion, I would walk through the front door backwards just to create a different perspective. All this did was remind me how happy I was when leaving the place. That approach had a short lifespan.
This realisation of the relationship between space and one’s well-being was also further fuelled by my experience living overseas in 10 different homes. Each home unknowingly influenced the way I approached or closed out every day. I found my connection to space was influenced by simple things such as the interior palette chosen, the way the morning sun hit the courtyard, how cool it stayed on a scorching summers day, how poorly soundproof the walls were and even the type of carpet used in the toilet, (yes, its true and it was a big hairy purple shagpile!). All these things would force a slight change of behaviour; some relaxing, others suppressing. Yet the relationship between space and emotion was undeniably connected and would slowly become a fascination for me that would transcend to the urban landscape. Which unfortunately for those accompanying me on a trip or a simple walk down the street would only increasingly become too aware of as I constantly questioned the existence of all things urban and spatial. Why was this street more welcoming than the other? Why have people chosen to converse in that area and not this one? And did lawn mower enthusiasts invent the suburban nature strip?!
Fortunately then, I chose a career in property where I could apply theory as to why things were the way they were. Through this process I soon discovered that knowing doesn't necessarily mean being satisfied with the answer. As my experience grew, so too did the realisation that the industry was unashamedly applying approaches from yesterday to deal with the way we live today. It was like hearing "my roof my rules'" all over again. This led me to become interested in the significant impact technology was having in the way we use space whilst increasingly becoming aware of just how reluctant the property industry was to change. It was somewhat of a conundrum…like the excitement of going on a four-day road trip only to find the driver wanted to listen to nothing other than Miley Cyrus. Hopefully the recent entry of Google into the property sector is the beginning of another disruptive moment, echoing Airbnb and Uber in their respective industries… "Hey Google, No Miley please".
Exploring this issue, had me questioning;
"If it took Melbourne 175 years to build 2 million homes and we will need to build the same amount in the next 40 years, how would I like to see my city evolve? "
That made me take notice and challenge the importance of space within our community. I was adamant the pressure of change was inevitable as the city would only densify further as it increasingly encourages reduced car usage to deal with one of its greatest threats: congestion. How we envision the future utilisation of our spaces whilst solving the expected need for 2 million homes will become critical. It is by no means a simple puzzle, but knowing that you can just as easily create bad spaces as you can good, is cause for urgency to review our current approaches. If we don’t, then our place of sanctuary may one day be replaced by a big hairy purple shagpile… “Hey Google, maybe Miley wasn’t so bad after all”.
A property expert with over 25 years experience working across both private and public sectors, predominately within the housing space.