The rise of prices and intergenerational living

With rising house prices and many struggling to get on the property ladder, the National House Building Council (NHBC) has seen an increase in family generations combining their assets to buy a family home together. Fergus Pickard, product development director at P C Henderson, explores how folding and sliding doors can help make the most of space and privacy available in family homes

With a record amount of grown-up children living at home and a rise in two or three family generations living under one roof, NHBC even predicts houses will be built and adapted to suit the surge of ‘co-homers’. Sliding and folding door hardware can offer vital added privacy and flexible layouts to improve such intergenerational homes.

Lack of affordable housing

The Intergenerational Fund (IF) researches fairness between old, young and future generations. Its housing report ‘Hoarding of Housing’ identifies that 25 million spare bedrooms are ‘under- occupied’ in the UK and encourages older home owners to downsize and free up space for those who are struggling to find a family property. Of course boosting housing supply is an ideal solution but this has proved difficult, especially with an ongoing brick shortage which further raises the new build house prices.

The worrying shortage of affordable housing has further social side effects for younger generations with many holding off settling down and starting families as they are stuck in the rental market and house shares. The average age of a first-time buyer, buying without assistance with a deposit, has risen to 37. This is matched with older generations dominating the buy-to-let market, which they then rent out to younger tenants.

Intergenerational living

The Ideal Home Show census learnt that four per cent of the population – 728,000 people – now live in homes with two other generations – a higher rate than in the Victorian era. With expensive care for the elderly and children in addition to a pricey housing market, inter-generational living provides many fiscal advantages, but lack of privacy and space can become an issue.

This news follows a study from the RIBA which shows house sizes are shrinking so we’re getting even less for our money. The average home has decreased in size from 1,647 sq ft, with four bedrooms in the 1920s, to today’s equivalent which has 925 sq ft and three bedrooms. Furthermore, the NHBC predicts that the familiar ‘granny annexe’ could evolve into co-homes with shared kitchens yet separate bathrooms and front doors.

Benefits of intergenerational housing include living with loved ones and convenient care for the elderly or children. However, living together permanently can have some disadvantages when it comes to privacy and respecting each other’s space. Sliding and folding door hardware can help by providing privacy screens and versatile layouts. Optional closed areas can be created with a sliding or folding door system for relaxation, or the door can be folded back or concealed to create open plan areas for socialising.

Create space

In addition to providing privacy screens and interchangeable layouts, the interior floor space can be increased by the use of sliding door gear systems, which are silent in use. They can be used as room dividers to create a flexible living area without compromising on an open plan design, which helps create space and allow more light into the property by removing walls and open- ing up rooms. In contrast, as the winter nights become colder, such partitions can close to make rooms cosier and reduce the amount of energy needed to heat the room by making the area smaller.

According to the Halifax monthly price index, house prices have risen by £17,970 in the year up to October. In addition, a report from the Post Office shows the average house size has halved by 700 sq ft in the last century, further showing the challenge to find affordable living space. By using sliding door gear systems floor space is created in a home in contrast to a swing door which impacts on the room once opened. In a house with ten 3ft internal doors, up to an additional 70 sq ft of usable space can be released in the home by eliminating the room needed for it to swing and function.

With a rise in intergenerational living and children staying at home for longer, sliding and folding doors can help increase useable room and floor areas at a time when space is at a premium. Partitions and dividers can help demand for versatile room layouts and pocket doors can help provide a more open plan feel to the home as well as letting light flow through openings. More useable space can be created with the use of silent in motion sliding doors as the swing function of a door is removed.