While lockdowns have torn us apart from loved ones, they have also helped to bring some families together.
More than a third of us now live in a multi-generational household, according to the insurer Aviva. This is mostly down to “Boomerang children” – nearly two in five of these set-ups include adult offspring staying at home with their parents, financially unable or perhaps unwilling to move out.
The pandemic has exacerbated this trend, as children have given up pricey rented flats to return to the family nest. Two-fifths of 18 to 34-year-olds have, or are planning to, return to their family home, either temporarily or permanently, according to comparison site Compare the Market.
The “granny annexe”, hosting elderly relations, has long been popular but the proportion of older relatives living with their children has grown in recent years, in part due to the pandemic. They now account for 14pc of multi-generational households, according to Aviva, up from 9pc in 2016.
Many have moved in with family because they don’t want to live alone but would rather avoid going to a care home, particularly due to the pandemic, but also because of the crippling fees.
In recent years, annexes have risen to the top of many buyers’ wishlists. These are still rare, however, with fewer than one in 600 homes having an annexe, according to research by estate agency Savills.
For some, having family members move in means they can stay at home and don’t have to downsize even when the house gets too big. Kenneth Webb, 83, decided to build an annexe at his home in north Norfolk three years ago so that his son and daughter-in-law could move into the main property. Recently widowed, he didn’t want to look after a big house on his own – but he also didn’t want to leave his beloved garden.
He sacrificed his vegetable patch to make way for his new home, which was built by annexe specialist iHus. It has two bedrooms, a lounge, kitchen, bathroom and utility room, and cost £125,000. He funded it through the sale of the main home to his son. He said: “It’s every bit as good as a bungalow that would cost £350,000.”
The average iHus takes six months to plan, build and fit, according to the firm’s James Lund-Lack. “If the building is being lived in all the time, it needs planning permission,” he said.